Dear Abby: I think our culture is severely lacking when we don’t teach our children how to politely and non-aggressively stand up for themselves when the need arises. People suffer in all sorts of relationships — work, family, friends — because they’re afraid of confrontation. Raising a subject that may be embarrassing and risking angering someone isn’t fun, but it’s COMMUNICATION.
If you have a problem, large or small, address it in private with the individual. And if someone tries to talk to you about something you’d rather not hear, be an adult, listen and respond civilly instead of reacting childishly.
We teach children to respect authority, be kind to others and be leaders — but we don’t teach them healthy confrontation, which is something we all encounter in our lives.
:Talking It Out In Indiana
:Dear Talking It Out: I agree with you. The kind of communication you’re describing is a skill. It requires not only a strong ego on the part of the “confronter,” but also tact and diplomacy. And the “confrontee” needs to have the ability to listen without responding with hostility to what is being said.
:Dear Abby: In my university classroom, students place their feet on chairs, teachers lecture while sitting on their desks, and the dean of the school herself sits atop her desk and places her feet on a chair in front of her. Please tell me that this is NOT OK!
:Proper In Washington
:Dear Proper: It appears you come from a generation or culture in which the atmosphere has always been quite formal. I can tell you it’s “not OK” if it will make you feel better, but if it’s acceptable to the teacher, the dean and the school, then it’s time for you to loosen up.
Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Write Dear Abby at www.DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.