I'm listening to a presentation about metrics, the classic red-yellow-green visual for communicating where things stand, and how people tend to soft-pedal measurement to avoid a "red" if at all possible. (Note that this is different from trying to prevent the "red;" it's more about how to massage the numbers so that things look better on paper than they really are.) The speaker said, "If we're always oscillating between "green" and "yellow," then problems are invisible."
In organizations, in relationships, we so often gloss over issues or bury problems so that we don't have to deal with them--so no one knows the problem is even there. SHHHHH. It will just go away. I've certainly been guilty of this myself. But in the last couple of years, I've really pushed myself to grow in this area. In some ways, I think having a broken marriage helped--I had stopped addressing the core issue already, but it wasn't as if I had anything to lose, so I decided I might as well address auxiliary issues as they emerged. So I did, and to be honest, I wasn't always good at it. As a woman in our society, rocking the boat isn't exactly encouraged, you know? So I had some serious upskilling of myself to do, to use some of our clients' language for a moment.
I still have a long way to go--this is a journey, after all--but I think I've made great progress. I raise what is important, and sometimes it makes for difficult conversations. Sometimes I have to just breathe and listen to the voice in my head rather than that knot in my stomach in order to make myself press on. And sometimes I get more than I bargained for. But every time, I feel better about who I am. I feel better about doing my work and my part. I owe it to the people I care about to make the problems visible. I owe it to them to call out what I am experiencing, how I feel about it, and why it's important to me. Even more, I owe it to myself.
(You know what that means? If you are in my life and I raise a difficult subject, that is the surest sign that I care about you.)