Dear Dr. Doris,
I’m in an uncomfortable situation. I hope there is another way to handle the problem other than personally confronting my date.
I met this woman a couple of weeks ago at a party. Things were great until I asked her out to dinner.
That’s when I experienced the shock of my life. She has absolutely terrible table manners. She talks with food in her mouth and she’s so animated with her fork and knife that I had visions of having a meal with Edward Scissorhands.
I’m not Mr. Etiquette, but my parents did teach me proper table manners. I’m not planning to dine out with her any time soon because I don’t want to crawl under the table in embarrassment. This means that we’re limited to meals at her house or mine. I can’t take her around my friends.
I hate “difficult conversations.” I’m very uncomfortable confronting someone about a behavior I don’t like and we’re not in a committed relationship.
I’m struggling because this woman is really great. We have the dating chemistry that turns me on. I’d love to get to know her better if her table manners weren’t so repulsive.
Do you have any suggestions about how to let her know her manners are an issue without having to have “THE Conversation”? I know I can’t change other people.
When we avoid addressing our true concerns with a date or mate, we cheat two people: ourselves and the other person. Because we aren’t being authentic, we lose the opportunity to discover how they handle constructive feedback. That’s just the beginning.
We block our access to critical information. If you want to consciously choose your ideal partner, you need to embrace authentic, meaningful conversations. Until both of you are open and vulnerable, you’ll never enjoy a genuine connection.
When we cover up our concerns, we also cheat ourselves out of a precious growth experience. It takes so much energy to hide our true feelings and opinions that we’re never fully present. We miss blatant clues from the other person because we’re preoccupied with fearful thoughts.
We also miss nudges from our Internal Oracle. If our mind were at ease because we felt comfortable expressing our true thoughts, our intuition would be flawlessly guiding us forward.
Instead, we’re second guessing ourselves and struggling to hide what we’re thinking. We become exhausted when we could be having fun. There is more to the self-sabotage. The issue we’re trying to sweep under the rug repeats until we learn to tactfully and respectfully (yet assertively) express ourselves. You can see this situation is a special gift wrapped in prickly wrapping paper . . . a prime learning opportunity.
If you continue to avoid addressing the issue, you’ll cheat yourself out of the opportunity to discover how to be comfortable during difficult conversations. This is such an important life skill that you truly want to gain comfort and confidence with crucial conversations. You’ll glean both with practice, so ask yourself two questions:
- “If not now, when?”
- “Wouldn’t I want to know if she were avoiding giving ME feedback about the one thing she doesn’t like about MY behavior?”
Relationship coaching will help you develop courage and confidence. You’ll thrive when you are 100% Your Authentic Self in all your relationships. You’ll get your needs met in easy, harmonious ways and your self-esteem will soar.
© 2011 Doris Helge, Ph.D. Excerpted with permission from the book: Helge, Doris, Ph.D. “Transforming Pain Into Power — Making the Most of Your Emotions,” Download sample chapters at http://TransformingPainIntoPower.com