Are You Beating Around the Bush?

Cinergy Coaching by Cinnie Noble

When we are in conflict, some of us avoid coming to the point about something we think may upset the other person. The idiom beat around (or about) the bush describes the sort of prevarication when we delay or are evasive about raising difficult things. Or, it may be we act this way when we are having challenges answering a hard question.

The expression – beating around the bush – has an interesting derivation. One story says it is from bird hunting in which some of the participants roused the birds by beating the bushes – enabling other hunters to catch the quarry in nets. Essentially, beating around the bushes was the preamble to the main event – being to capture the birds. Apparently, grouse hunters and other forms of bird hunting still use beaters today.

In the conflict context we may consider a full blown argument as the ‘main event’ and beating around the bush is an effort to avoid it. As previously discussed in another ConflictMastery™ Quest(ions) blog entitled Bury Your Head in the Sand, we avoid conflict for many reasons such as fears we are experiencing. This may be fear of offending the other person, retaliation, things becoming unsettled, and loss of the relationship. Alternatively, we may have in our minds that such an approach as beating around the bush may help to prevent the possibility of a full blown argument and perhaps, even soften things. Or, we may think beating around the bush will indirectly help to prepare the other person that something is amiss.

If you are beating around the bush in a situation or generally tend to do so, consider this week’s questions.

In what ways does this expression apply to you and a particular situation you have in mind, or in general?

What are you more specifically doing or saying – or not doing or saying – in that situation that describes how you are beating around the bush? Or, what do you generally do or say or not do or say when you beat around the bush?

What is motivating you to beat around the bush in the particular situation? Or, what motivates you to do so generally?

What may you be protecting, if that applies? Who may you be protecting, if that applies?

What is the worst case scenario you imagine in the specific situation, if you state the point or answer you are not expressing?

What is the best case scenario that may result in this situation, if you state the point or answer you are not expressing?

Imagine yourself not beating around the bush and coming right out to say, ask, or answer what is on your mind, what exactly would you say, ask, or answer? How does that feel?

If you were to proceed to state or respond to the other person – as to no longer beat around the bush – what would you want to be especially careful about in doing so?

How do you imagine you will feel if you no longer beat around the bush about this matter? How does your answer to this question deter you? Motivate you?

What other ConflictMastery™ Quest(ions) may you add here?


Cinnie Noble

Cinnie Noble is a certified coach (PCC) and mediator and a former lawyer specializing in conflict management coaching. She is the author of two coaching books: Conflict Management Coaching: The CINERGY™ Model and Conflict Mastery: Questions to Guide You. MORE >

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