“Because that’s the way we’ve always done it!”

Have you ever had someone in your family or your work group utter those stultifying words?

Like somehow you were supposed to know the unwritten rules of relationship? Somehow they slipped under your skin by osmosis?

And, more troublesome, the speaker often honestly thinks that anything like creativity, growth or change would be unthinkable!

Couples generally create unspoken agreements by their habitual behaviors.

“Well, I didn’t plan anything because you are always tired on Friday nights and you want to stay home.”

Did you ever indicate that? Maybe it was that one Friday when you’d just returned from a whirlwind business trip and had to do all your reports that day, and you wanted to just relax into a hot bubble bath with a glass of whatever soothes you and make it an early night, that night that he really wanted to go out on the town and you were unavailable.  It’s funny how such an event sticks in the mind and, how once becomes “always”.

“That’s just the way things work around here.”

This is the ultimate justification for not handling, not managing and not speaking about inequities, injustices and insults in the workplace. The “you know how it is–wink, wink, nod, nod–around here,” as though everything is written in stone and who would ever think to get a hammer? That phrase is also code for “Who do you think you are?”  and “Don’t rock the boat!” These are unwritten rules.

When jobs are in jeopardy and employment unplentiful, people are rightly concerned about rocking boats and capsizing careers.

This is when courage is called for, and, as Rudy Guiliani said, “Courage is about the management of fear, not the absence of fear.”  And, I add that this is when well-honed communication and conflict management skills are called for, when the ability to communicate in ways that are totally honest and totally kind at the same time in relationship are called for. This is the time to know who you are and be able to express it, illuminating possibilities rather than dampening spirits.

So, what do you do in face of unspoken agreements to which you are being held hostage, or, at least, accountable?  It may be time to speak up?

(If you know you need help to speak up in your relationships, in ways that are both totally honest and totally kind at the same time, you may want to work with me to create a customized solution for your specific relationship issue. Don’t worry. It won’t cost you an arm, leg or first born! 

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