People who will do anything to avoid difficult conversations usually have these 8 traits

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There’s something about difficult conversations that makes most of us want to run for the hills. I mean, who actually enjoys sitting down and discussing something uncomfortable or potentially heartbreaking?

I know I don’t. But I’ve noticed a pattern, some folks seem to avoid these conversations like the plague. 

It’s not always a conscious decision, sometimes it’s more of a gut reaction. You see the potential for conflict and your instinct is to sidestep it, to keep the peace.

But here’s the thing: it’s not always healthy, this constant avoidance. In fact, it can be downright harmful, both to yourself and your relationships.

In this piece, we’re going to dive deep into the characteristics of those who would rather do anything than face a difficult conversation head-on.

 And trust me, it’s not as simple as just being shy or non-confrontational. There’s more to it than that.

Stay tuned.

1) They are conflict-avoidant

It’s the most obvious characteristic, yet it’s worth starting here. People who dodge tough conversations are often conflict-avoidant by nature.

Now, we’re not talking about the occasional instinct to sidestep a heated argument. That’s normal. What we’re referring to here is a constant, almost pathological, need to avoid any form of disagreement or conflict.

These individuals can’t stand the idea of rocking the boat. They would rather swallow their feelings or opinions than risk causing a stir. It’s this fear of conflict that drives them to dodge or postpone difficult conversations.

The problem is, by avoiding these conversations, they’re often just delaying the inevitable. The issues don’t disappear just because they’re not being addressed, right?

2) They have a fear of vulnerability

I’ve spent a lot of my life being afraid of showing my true feelings. It’s not that I don’t have them, quite the contrary. It’s just that expressing them felt like opening myself up to criticism or rejection.

People who avoid difficult conversations often have this fear of vulnerability. They worry that exposing their true thoughts and feelings will make them appear weak, or worse, will be used against them in some way.

This fear can be paralyzing. It can keep you from expressing your needs, your wants, your fears, your dreams. It can prevent you from having the kind of open, honest communication that deepens relationships and resolves conflicts.

I’ve learned the hard way that while being vulnerable can be scary, it’s also necessary. Without it, we’re just skimming the surface of our relationships, never really getting to the heart of what matters. 

3) They’re experts in evasion

I have a friend. Let’s call him Jake. Jake is the kind of guy who can turn any conversation into a comedy routine. He has this knack for making you laugh, even when you’re trying to have a serious talk. 

But over time, I’ve come to realize that this is more than just a talent for humor. It’s a defense mechanism.

People who avoid difficult conversations often become masters of evasion. They use jokes, changing the topic, or even silence to steer the conversation away from anything uncomfortable.

Jake would crack a joke whenever I tried to address something serious. He’d then quickly change the subject before I could steer us back on track. It was frustrating, but it also made me realize how deeply uncomfortable he was with these kinds of discussions.

If you notice that someone constantly deflects or shuts down when you try to initiate a serious conversation, it might be a sign that they’re doing everything they can to avoid difficult discussions. 

And while it can be challenging to break through these defenses, understanding why they’re there in the first place can be a good start.

4) They often have high levels of anxiety

Take a moment and think about how you feel right before a difficult conversation. Your heart races, your palms sweat, your mind is a whirl of worst-case scenarios. Now imagine feeling like that all the time.

People who habitually avoid difficult conversations often deal with high levels of anxiety. The mere thought of an uncomfortable talk can trigger a significant stress response, making the avoidance seem like a survival mechanism.

In fact, research has shown that people with social anxiety are more likely to avoid confrontations or difficult talks. It’s not that they don’t care about the issue at hand, but their anxiety makes the situation feel incredibly daunting.

If this sounds familiar, you’re not alone. And while it’s challenging, it’s also possible to manage these feelings and learn to navigate tough talks more effectively. 

Because let’s face it, avoiding every difficult conversation isn’t really an option in the long run, is it?

5) They tend to be people-pleasers

You know those people who never seem to say no, who always go with the flow, and who seem to put everyone else’s needs above their own? Yes, I’m talking about people-pleasers.

In my experience, individuals who avoid tough discussions often fall into this category. They’re so keen on keeping everyone around them happy that they’ll bury their own feelings or concerns.

The potential of causing any discomfort or disappointment to others scares them more than suppressing their own needs.

People-pleasing isn’t about being kind or generous, it’s about avoiding conflict and negative emotions. It’s an attempt to control how others perceive us, driven by the fear of rejection or disapproval.

But here’s the kicker: you can’t please everyone all the time. And in trying to do so, you often end up neglecting your own needs and feelings. 

6) They’re often perfectionists

At first glance, perfectionism might seem like a good thing. Who wouldn’t want to strive for the best, right? But when you dig a bit deeper, you’ll find that it’s not always so black and white.

People who avoid difficult conversations often have perfectionist tendencies. They fear making mistakes or being seen as flawed. So, they avoid situations where they might have to admit they were wrong or that they’ve messed up.

I’ve been there myself. There were times when I would rather keep quiet than admit that I’d made a mistake. It was as if acknowledging my flaws would shatter this perfect image I was trying to uphold.

But the truth is, no one is perfect. We all make mistakes. And sometimes, admitting to them and having those hard conversations is the only way to learn and grow.

So if you’re stuck in this perfectionist trap, just remember – it’s okay to be human. It’s okay to be imperfect.

7) They struggle with self-esteem

This one is a bit tricky, because it’s not always visible on the surface. But trust me, it’s there. Beneath all the evasion, the anxiety, the people-pleasing and the perfectionism, there’s often a deep-seated struggle with self-esteem.

People who consistently avoid difficult conversations may be dealing with feelings of unworthiness. They might believe that their thoughts or feelings aren’t valid or important enough to be voiced.

They fear that expressing their needs or concerns might lead to rejection or criticism, which would further dent their fragile self-esteem.

I’ve had days when I felt like my voice didn’t matter, that my feelings were insignificant. But over time, I’ve learned that this isn’t true. Everyone’s thoughts and feelings are valid and deserve to be heard.

If you find yourself constantly suppressing your needs or feelings for fear of how others might react, it might be time to work on building your self-esteem. Because remember, your voice matters too.

8) They often lack effective communication skills

And here we are, at the crux of it all. The one commonality that ties all these traits together – a lack of effective communication skills.

In my experience, individuals who avoid difficult conversations often struggle with how to express their thoughts and feelings.

It’s not that they don’t have anything to say, rather they’re unsure of how to say it. They fear misinterpretation or the potential fallout that could arise from saying the wrong thing.

I remember a time when I would rehearse conversations in my head over and over, trying to find the ‘right’ way to express what I was feeling. But the more I rehearsed, the more anxious I became, and ultimately I would decide that silence was the safer option.

But here’s what I’ve learned: there is no ‘right’ way to express your feelings. Communication isn’t about perfection, it’s about connection. And sometimes, saying something imperfectly is better than not saying anything at all.

Mastering communication skills can be a game-changer. It provides the tools needed to navigate tough talks effectively and honestly. 

So if you’re stuck in the cycle of avoidance, maybe it’s time to focus on enhancing your communication skills.

Because at the end of the day, difficult conversations are a part of life, and having them can lead to better understanding, deeper connections and ultimately personal growth.

The way forward

Recognizing these traits within yourself can be a bit like looking into a mirror you didn’t really want to face. But here’s the thing – awareness is the first step towards change.

If you can see yourself in these descriptions, don’t panic. These traits are not a life sentence, they’re just patterns of behavior. And like any pattern, they can be changed.

Start by acknowledging your tendency to avoid difficult conversations. Consider the impact this has on your relationships and your personal growth. Reflect on why you dodge these talks and what fears lie underneath.

Then, start taking small steps towards change. Maybe it’s having that conversation you’ve been avoiding, or expressing your opinion when you would usually stay silent. It could even be as simple as saying ‘no’ when you’d usually say ‘yes’.

Change won’t happen overnight. It’s a journey. But every small step you take is a victory in itself.

The ability to have difficult conversations is an essential skill, one that can lead to stronger relationships and increased self-confidence. And remember, it’s perfectly okay to seek professional help if you feel overwhelmed.

It’s time to step out of the shadows of avoidance and into the light of open, honest communication. Because in the end, it’s not just about surviving difficult conversations, but thriving because of them.

Mia Zhang

Mia Zhang blends Eastern and Western perspectives in her approach to self-improvement. Her writing explores the intersection of cultural identity and personal growth. Mia encourages readers to embrace their unique backgrounds as a source of strength and inspiration in their life journeys.

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