Tara West

This article was originally posted to LinkedIn and Facebook on November 23, 2022

Several years ago, my then-boyfriend (“Ben”) and I used to hang out with Ben’s friends (“Steve and Maureen”) pretty regularly. I loved hanging out with Steve and Maureen, but every time we got together, Steve and I would just end up arguing about something.

We both enjoyed debating, but our debates always got heated, and mysteriously our respective partners didn’t enjoy that so much. So finally Ben told me that if I kept fighting with Steve, we weren’t going to be able to hang out with Steve and Maureen anymore.

Wait. What? Okay, you got my attention. But how was I going to stop fighting with Steve? It hadn’t really seemed like a choice before - the arguments just kind of happened. And then Ben gave me this sage advice: “If Steve says something that bothers you, just let it slide off of you like water off a duck’s back.”

Interesting. This was new to me, but I was willing to give it a try. So the next time we were out with Steve and Maureen, I kept picturing water sliding off a duck’s back. It almost became like a game to me, and it was actually kind of fun! I had no idea how easy it could be to simply let things go once I made the decision to do so, and how much more I’d enjoy my time with Steve and Maureen once we stopped fighting. And of course when I didn’t respond, Steve stopped his part of it, as well.

So why am I telling you this story on the eve of Thanksgiving? Because you will undoubtedly have opportunities to argue, thoughtfully discuss, or simply let things go tomorrow. While I can’t know what choice will be right for you, I do know that choosing not to respond can be just as empowering as choosing to respond, and when you make your choice thoughtfully and intentionally, that is empowering in itself.

And for a 3-step plan that can help you pause and make a conscious choice you can feel good about, check out this short vintage but still relevant video:

Conflict Resolution in Stressful Times - A 3-Step Plan

Happy Thanksgiving!


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