Perhaps I’m a little bit charged today. Perhaps I’m a tad bit annoyed at myself or others. Either way, I think the topic of choosing your battles is muy importante.
First, simple reasons to choose your battles. If you make this a fight…
Are you going to win anything worth winning?
Are you going to win something you don’t want?
Remember, on the downside of battling, fighting costs more than you realize: energy, attention, opportunity cost, reputation (others ideas about you).
On the upside, if you don’t speak up or persist the other person will have their way by default. Have you ever been mistaken? Perhaps they are. Perhaps there’s some more valuable synthesis that can result if you have a battle.
The last important thing about battles is learning to let go. If you really want to battle, but know it’s not worth it, and yet you cannot stop yourself…what’s the point of even being aware of all that stuff. You’ll just use it later on to beat yourself up. Learn to let go and save yourself some grief.
Okay, we’re all different and we rarely fit neatly into mentally constructed categories. Actually, I see myself below in each one of them. I do know I have strong tendencies though. And as I’ve gotten older I’m seen these tendencies change. Either way…
Which Type of Person Do You Tend to Be?
You tend to get yourself involved in too many battles. And as often as the case is the 80/20 rule applies. 80% of your headache and heartache comes from only 20% of your battles. What may really help you is the ability to stop a beat before you emotionally react. The feelings come welling up and WHAM you’ve already fired the first salvo or POW you’ve decided you’re going to die on this hill out of principle.
You’ll seriously get the most mileage and best results out of being able to just wait a moment before you emotionally respond. I’m not saying don’t respond. I’m just saying you may save yourself quite a bit if you stop for a second. How do you do this. Notice that you’re getting angry or feel hurt or feel afraid.
Now this is quite different than telling yourself you ARE angry, hurt or afraid. If you tell yourself you ARE something or say I AM hurt or angry, really, do you have any other recourse than to act that way? But if you give yourself a chance to slow it down just a second by noticing you are starting to feel a certain way, you’ve given yourself a chance at control.
You’re a doormat. You stuff your experiences. You might think you have no right to feel a certain way (you have any right to feel any way you do, that’s like saying it has no right to rain today…it’s raining, handle the situation as it is, eventually it will stop raining, weather always changes, same with your emotions).
You probably need to experience more confrontations, more battles. Battles are not always wasteful. Sometimes they cannot be avoided…or better stated, sometimes you don’t have the time, experience, or insight at a particular moment to avoid a battle – you’ll always find a way later to see how you could have, after hours of thought…of course you had only 5 seconds in the moment, but why would you give yourself such a break?
Recommendation? Battle more.
Not a lot more. If you don’t ever get into confrontations I wouldn’t recommend you start having one for every single thing. That’s childish. One significant difference between an adult and a child is the understanding that there are more things than the exact opposite. What do I mean. You don’t have to be pleasant to everyone all the time. Childish response: You mean I can be mean and nasty to everyone I come in contact with? Seriously? That’s the first thing that pops into your mind? Here’s a tip, there’s an entire continuum between those two points. Try something closer to where you currently are, get some experience and make adjusts, like the adult you are. You are an adult.
You may be a little like the passive type, but when you are absolutely sure you’re right, you battle really hard and never let go. You know what, you’re probably right 80% of the time…you think you’re right 100% of the time, you’ve developed a great mental defense mechanism of selective amnesia to when you were wrong.
So what’s the problem? The problem is you’re still battling the wrong battles. The right battles to fight are not the ones where you are 100% convinced you are right. You may be 100% convinced you are right on a component of the project, but if that component is minor and now you’ve ticked off your whole team, you, the project, your company and the clients you serve are all worse off simply because of minutae.
Know-It-All, the Aggressive Analytic
If you say, “Well actually…” or consistently make adjustments to what people say, you’re the aggressive analytic. You fight too many battles. You are literally killing yourself by way of a thousand paper cuts.
You’re effectively being an intellectual bully. Bullies tend to get their comeuppance, unless they grow up. And yes, I’m saying grow up. You know how you love that warm internal glow of being right and you despise and dread that cold falling feeling when you know or have been proven wrong? Well guess what? Other people do too. Yep, those smiling, frowning, talking, walking entities called human beings enjoy being right and dislike being wrong. They will avoid you more and more the more you focus on their being wrong.
It is childish. Why? Because adults have the ability to forgo instant gratification for greater rewards later. Adults can forgo the instant gratification of correcting a minor issue for a smoother relationship and a growing respect. Children can’t. Children won’t.
Now, again. Am I saying go to the opposite extreme? No, that, AGAIN, would be childish. Choose your battles. If acting on what the person said would be damaging to them, yourself, or the client, ask for clarification or state, “Wait, you said 14%, did you mean the 17% from column D?” If not, keep it to yourself. You know what, forget keep it to yourself, DROP IT, let it go, forget about it, think about something else, continue to pay attention to what the person is saying.