Is this normal? | Mark’s Remarks

When you get to a certain age, people coming to you and asking for an opinion is rare.

You see, we get in the mode where we feel we need to impart our wisdom on the masses, especially because we think we’ve been around the block and have umpteen life experiences and vast knowledge to share. 

So people avoid old fogies like us.

In addition, you may have tried to have a conversation with me, or any other teacher for that matter. We are so used to giving all the details (and repeating them several times) that we tend to be a bit verbose.  

Layer on the fact I come from a long line of big talkers on both sides of my family.

Gee, Tullis, sorry I asked.

Anyway, someone actually came up to me not long ago and asked me a question, fully wanting to know the answer – absolutely wanting to know something they thought I might know.

“Do people around here usually talk to everyone else instead of going to the source of the problem? Is it normal for people to avoid confronting someone and instead, they go around the person or even over their head?” 

This was the question I was asked.

Is this normal?  This was repeated again.

I had to think about my answer. I’ve lived in small communities my entire life. I’ve been a part of the school community my entire life.  I’ve hung out with large groups of parents with differing opinions. I’ve been part of a church family for many years.

The answer is yes. People do that stuff. But I’m not sure I think it’s normal.

Sure, we all know that few people enjoy conflict.  Many people go out of their way to avoid any sort of confrontation. People like me get real brave behind a keyboard or through written word, but fear getting tongue-tied if they have to confront a person or problem head on.

People like to complain their patooties off, and many of them think if they complain enough and to the right person, something will change.  

I know what these people think because I’m one of them. Not all the time, but enough of the time.

Most people don’t have the gonads to walk up to someone and say “Hey, listen. I’ve got an issue I want to talk over with you.”  Even if the conversation is done in a tactful manner, people still fear such an interaction.

Am I right?

Furthermore, how many people do you know who DO confront and try to rectify a situation? Women and men who do it get labels attached to them. They aren’t looked on favorably nor are they treated with respect when they decide to be honest and speak up.  

Those types of people are avoided just about as much as conflicts themselves.

In addition, even when you hear people talking about “open door policies” and saying things like “Just come and talk to me,” there’s still the possibility the person you go to will get their feelings hurt, hold a grudge or get ticked off.

There’s a whole outline in the Bible for confronting issues. Yet, I’ve watched people do it the right way over and over.  I mean, “in Christian love” may sound cliche, but that’s what I’m talking about. The people went to the person like they were supposed to. Yet the confronted member of the church flew off the handle, threw a fit, or reacted in a negative way.

Stop and think about it. How often have you seen things go south when people finally took the initiative to try and fix something?  

At my age, I’ve seen it happen numerous times. It’s no wonder we avoid it.

So, again, yes; I’m afraid it’s a normal thing that shouldn’t be normal.  People don’t typically go straight to the source.

Aren’t you glad you asked me?

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Mark Tullis

Mark is a 25-year veteran teacher teaching in Columbia. Originally from Fairfield, Mark is married with four children. He enjoys reading, writing, and spending time with his family, and has been involved in various aspects of professional and community theater for many years and enjoys appearing in local productions. Mark has also written a "slice of life" style column for the Republic-Times since 2007.
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