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Tanisha's Tips: How Do You Handle Conflict?

Do you bottle up your anger until you can't take it anymore? It's time to handle it like an adult.

Senior Editor Tanisha A. Sykes says dealing with haters is a J-O-B in and of itself. She gives you something to think about while she tries to figure out how to take the high road.
Aside from my 9-to-5 (actually 10-to-6, but who’s counting?), I’m a very active member of a few nonprofit groups. Anyone who knows me knows that I say yes more often than I say no, sometimes to my own detriment. It can mean taking on more than I can handle, doing everything at a much higher standard than my cohorts and pressuring myself to do more and be more.
Recently, it caught up to me. For weeks, I had been grinding it out on a project at work, while at the same time trying to figure out a financial mess that needed fixing, while at the same time trying to find something for my kids to do this summer. Yes, I know — we do too much as moms, wives, sisters, daughters. But I do it all because I like to, and… I’m good at it.
Nonetheless, as I’ve grown older, it’s become apparent that taking on too much means some balls are going to drop — and that was the case when I didn’t uphold one of my duties at my nonprofit. So, I was called out, talked about, and even received a dig or two via email. Now, I’m a big girl, so I can own up to my responsibility, but when does the hateration end?
Interestingly, I’ve only experienced these types of hurtful, high school antics with strong Black women such as myself who might find me a bit… um, gruff. Okay, my grandmom always said my tongue is sharp; if you’re not on point, I’m the first in line to correct you. But not in a spiteful way — more like, “Now baby, here’s what you need to do to rectify this…”
The problem is, the negative vibes I’ve been getting seem to run deeper than “Hey, you messed up, now fix it.” What’s that I smell? Jealousy? No, it couldn’t be. What if it is? I got another email today in which I was inadvertently blamed for someone not doing what she was supposed to do. I was two seconds from flying off the handle, chastising the person, belittling her and letting it be known that it wasn’t my fault. But doesn’t that make me just as petty as the person who started this silliness? I took a deep breath, called a friend, explained the situation and did not respond to the email.
My aunt told me, “You need to pray before you cuss… somebody… out!” True dat, but I also need to better understand why this type of incident has happened to me more than enough times in my life. Do I piss people off to the point that the only way for them to get me back is to nitpick me? Or do they think I’m beyond reproach? My husband has always said I have a chip. What does he know????
Seriously, is it that I need to communicate more, listen, think and then respond instead of just flying off the handle like a Richardson (my surname) girl? Yes, that’s it. I think Black women bottle up too much, then pop off in all directions, oozing our attitudes and craziness onto anyone in our paths. Not all of us do this, of course, but sometimes I will let things simmer under way too many assumptions, unspoken truths and hurt feelings.
As you get older, playing the mean high school chick is just as tired as playing her timid victim. They say two can play that game, but I won’t play either — and neither should you, because life’s too short.
Tell me what you think. Am I crazy? Or do I need to take some ownership of these situations I find myself in, especially if they were to happen at work? To be continued…