How I Got Over My Fear of Confrontation and Learned to Speak Up

Years ago, I started a brand new job, and I was contracted on terrible project. There was no real work to do, so instead of technical writing—my actual job—I spent my time getting coffee for people and making copies. Rather than ask my boss about this, I kept it to myself. Weeks later, she confronted me, puzzled: “Why didn’t you speak up?”

It’s pretty bad when your boss points out that you need to speak up for yourself more. I cringe to think of all the experiences that were more stressful than they needed to be, simply because I was afraid of confrontation.

For a long time, and even now, to some extent, I’ve been afraid to address another person about an issue—any issue. Here are some examples:

  • If a friend did something I didn’t like, I never said anything.
  • If I had a question, I wouldn’t ask.
  • If I didn’t like a situation at work, or anywhere, really, I wouldn’t say anything.
  • I never even considered negotiating my salary.

In short, I was so afraid an interaction might turn into a confrontation, I became a pushover. In recent years, I’ve learned to work around this fear pretty well. And working around it helped me get past the fear altogether.

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