art work by John Ceprano
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Walking On Eggshells

Have you ever had the experience of “walking on eggshells” around another person? Or, someone has said that’s what it’s like for them – about you?

The origin of this idiom is not clearly known (from what I researched), but it may have evolved from the older idiom “walking on eggs” which presents a difficult situation of avoiding damage while walking on a delicate object.

Generally-speaking that’s how most of us understand the expression “walking on eggshells”. That is, when any of us “walk on eggshells” we are being very careful not to offend someone or do anything wrong. In fact, we might make an effort to be diplomatic, careful and inoffensive.

The following definitions are relevant:

  • To be overly careful in dealing with a person or situation because they get angry or offended very easily; to try very hard not to upset someone or something; and
  • To be careful and sensitive in handling very sensitive matters.

If you feel this way about someone or know someone feels this way about you, here are some Conflict Mastery Quest(ions) to consider:

If you feel you are “walking on eggshells” around someone, what precipitated this dynamic, as far as you know?

What specifically are you afraid of or concerned could happen?

If that happened (your answer to the above question), how would that be worse than what is going on in the relationship now?

If that happened, how would that be better than what is going on in the relationship now?

How might you describe what you would prefer to “walk on” with this person?

If you sense or know someone feels they “walk on eggshells” around you, why do you know or suppose that is?

What are you gaining from the dynamic between you in these situations? What are you losing from the dynamic between you in these situations?

What might she or he fear or be most concerned about relating to you?

How realistic is it that you might react the way the other person fears?

What would you prefer this person feel like around you?

What else occurs to you as you consider these questions?

What insights do you have?

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