Do you dread confrontation? Does the mere thought of confronting someone or something in your life cause a certain amount of fear and anxiety for you? Do you find yourself uncertain on how to do it, what exactly it means and whether it’s necessary?
I mean, do we even need to confront a person or situation that causes a problem in our life? Isn’t it just easier to just avoid it all together?
To confront or not to confront, that is the question.
Webster’s dictionary defines confrontation as “a situation in which people or groups fight, oppose or challenge each other in an angry way”. As a result people who are labeled as confrontational often get a bad rap. We hear phrases like “She’s really confrontational” and think of someone who’s hard to get along with or angry by nature. However, from my experience with confronting various people and situations I can tell you first hand that that’s not true.
How do I know this?
I’m a confrontational person.
Though you’d never be able to tell it by looking at me and probably not even from hanging around me, I am. But I have a confession:
I also hate confrontation.
Confused? Let me explain; I don’t necessarily enjoy confrontation much like the next person but I’ve learned that it’s a necessary part of life.
Contrary to what we often think, confrontation does not have to be done in an angry, fist-shaking, combative way. Maybe that’s the only way you’ve seen it done before but handling confrontation can be simpler. Read on and I’ll show you how!
My first memory of dealing with confrontation is when I was 13 or 14 years old. I had a friend at school who I really liked but there was a problem. Even though we got along great for the most part, she would periodically say mean, negative things about my hair, often times when I tried a new style.
Over time I mentioned this problem to my mom who advised that I talk to my friend and let her know that I enjoyed our friendship but I didn’t like it when she said negative things about my hair; and that if she found something negative with my appearance to just keep it to herself.
I took her advice and spoke with my friend; and while I don’t remember much about our conversation that day; I remember it worked! She never said another negative thing about my hair and we are still good friends til this day!
The other day I had to confront a manager at a local automobile business about an unauthorized transaction on my account. I had gone in for car service on my vehicle and later found out that the sales rep had applied extra services to my account that I did not ask for. After calling customer service and advising them of the problem I called and spoke with the rep that did this. He was probably in his late forties and I was sure he was gonna brush me off and act like I was making too big of fuss and try to twist the situation in his favor. We’ve all heard the stories about automobile shops trying to get over on women one way or another. Needless to say I was very nervous about confronting him.
As the time neared to make the phone call I’m embarrassed to admit I worried about the up-coming conversation more than I should have (remember my previous post where I talked about this ongoing problem?)
Well I went ahead and called the guy and I did it afraid. I let him know that I felt he had taken advantage of me as a consumer, and that what he did was in the best interest of his company and not me as a customer. I did receive some push back from the guy and I had to keep stressing my point and rephrasing it to the best of my ability but ultimately he ended up apologizing and after a bit of work I was able to get the situation corrected.
My last example is a from a casual dating experience. A while back I was getting re-aquanited with a guy I had know in high school. We would talk on the phone and sometimes hang out a bit. After awhile I noticed a pattern developing that I disliked; he would often call me around 10 pm or so on Fridays and Saturday’s wanting to meet up or go out that night. Maybe since I’d know him for so long he thought it was OK to be a little more casual with me, however, I did not like him calling me during booty call hours and trying to make all these last minute plans. So I told him I don’t accept calls after 9 pm and late calls like his may me feel like he’s trying to arrange a booty call. He brushed it off and called me a square. Needless to say we no longer talk, lol!
I share just a few of these examples from my personal life to let you know that confrontation does not have to be a source of dread, fear and anxiety for you. Nor does it have to be all that complicated. It’s not exactly a pleasant activity, but it doesn’t have to be something you avoid at all costs. Once you start thinking of confrontation as less of an event and more of a necessary part of life it will take some of the “fear” out of it.
- Not every situation or every person needs to be confronted even if they are in the wrong. Pray about it and allow God to show you when, what, who and how to confront.
- Confrontation does not have to be an ugly shouting match. You don’t have to dread confrontation. There are healthy, loving ways to confront. Just asking someone for clarification or stating plainly how you feel about something is an act of confronting.
- Confrontation is not about winning or one-upping someone. It is about making sure your voice is heard knowing that the end result may or may not be favorable.
All in all I must say I owe my confrontation skills to my mom. She helped me when I was a kid talk through a lot of situations and circumstances and as I’ve matured she still helps me. She showed me how to confront others in a healthy way.
Confronting for the most part means talking things out. It means communicating, being honest and at times vulnerable which is so hard for us all. At times it will involve setting a boundary or changing a behavior towards the other party if needed. If you’re unfamiliar with boundaries I plan to discuss it in a future post.
In life there will be people and situations that you have to confront. Don’t run. Or you’ll spend the rest of your life doing so.