The fatalist’s reasoning for avoiding a difficult conversation is this: It won’t make any difference. Ah, there’s nothing like a self-fulfilling prophecy to make your day predictable. Maybe it won’t make any difference.
Certainly if you think it won’t, you’re probably setting yourself up for exactly that outcome. And it’s a guarantee that not having an important conversation will yield little—avoidance rarely results in change. Yet maybe the way you’ve been engaging such conversations is one reason they’re not making much of a difference.
If your goal in a difficult conversation is to "get the other person to ___" (you fill in the blank: change, stop an annoying behavior, change a deeply troubling behavior, etc.), then you are probably dooming yourself before you begin. If your approach is to help them "see the light" by telling them the ways they should change, success is likely to be elusive. The way you approach the conversations that matter makes all the difference.
And maybe your own lack of commitment to working through a difficulty is also playing a role. If you and another person have a long-term dynamic, or they have a long-term behavioral pattern that’s problematic, then change is unlikely to occur after one difficult conversation. That conversation is better seen as the first of several important conversations. If you want to see a change in a relationship dynamic, you’re better served to think of your desire as a commitment of energy over time.
Many people think that when they tell someone about a problem behavior, that other person will suddenly and miraculously stop doing it. That pretty much never happens, because (1) people tend to adopt behaviors that work for them in some way, (2) just because we see it as a problem doesn’t mean they do, and (3) we are usually seeing the behavior from a single perspective (ours), instead of trying to understand theirs.
The first post in this mini-series is at Conflict Avoidance Reason 1: It Will Hurt the Relationship and the next is at Conflict Avoidance Reason 3: I Don’t Want to Seem Aggressive.