Understanding Confrontation



Have you noticed how many people today have an absolute fear of confrontation?

Have you noticed how many instead of confronting an issue will run away, go underground or into hiding, rather than meeting with the person to work out the issues at hand. Sadly when someone runs away it certainly makes the matter worse! When you don’t confront then you either let the situation fester and get worse or if running away from responsibility create bad blood in a relationship! Sadly, when we don’t confront issues then we often make things worse for ourselves What could have been worked out amicably if done early usually creates a situation where friendly discourse is no longer possible.

Why do people fear confrontation?
Fear of confrontation prevents some people from being straight or even fighting their corner. A chronic fear of ‘upsetting the applecart’ may stem from a childhood spent trying to appease an irritable parent or from having lived in a family in which any disagreement felt like a huge deal.

Many were taught not to confront, always be happy and positive and so sadly this produces a mentality that if I have an issue then I am being negative and it is not allowed in my family culture.ndue fear of confrontation may stem from a fear of rejection. Wanting to ‘be nice’ all the time (regardless of how the other person behaves) is a fast-track route to repressed bitterness, and sends clear messages to the insensitive that “I can be treated poorly”.So let’s look at some strategies that may help you the next time you need to confront someone or an issue.

Another reason is undue fear of confrontation may stem from a fear of rejection. Wanting to ‘be nice’ all the time (regardless of how the other person behaves) is a fast-track route to repressed bitterness, and sends clear messages to the insensitive that “I can be treated poorly”.

Always wanting to be ‘nice’ can backfire. If it does leak out that you’re unhappy about something but you’d never mentioned it, you just seem two-faced. Or you might find that constantly bottling up what upsets you leads to an emotional explosion in which you do and say stuff out of proportion to the original problem, then end up feeling guilty.

The other thing is if you keep running away from problems, ie owing money, being tardy at work etc causes your reputation to do a dive as people will label you as unreliable and with no integrity etc.

Remember people are not mind readers, they don’t know you have a problem, your circumstances have changed, you don’t like certain behaviour etc UNLESS you tell them!


girls talking

So let’s look at some strategies that may help you the next time you need to confront someone or an issue.

1) Decide whether confrontation is needed

Being good at handling confrontation doesn’t mean needlessly shouting people out or creating problems where they didn’t really exist. It’s more to do with being clear in your own mind where the cut-off point lies before you say something. We can and should cut others some slack. Make your own rules, and then respect yourself enough to stick to them.

For example: “Okay, my neighbours have played loud music till late twice this week. They don’t usually; I’ll just see if they do it again before the weekend and if they do, then I’m going to talk to them!” It’s up to you how many ‘chances’ you give somebody. Being clear in your own mind makes it easier to be clear with others when they cross that line.

2) Set some proper time aside
“Can we have a chat this morning, please? What time is good for us?” Treat it as non-emotional business. You don’t need to wade in immediately unless they absolutely refuse to ‘book a time with you’. If they ask: “What’s it about?”, you could say: “Okay, well, I was going to talk later, but since you ask: it’s about…” If they feel intimidated by you setting a time, that’s not necessarily a bad thing. There’s nothing wrong with a bit of time for self-reflection.

3) Stick absolutely, completely, and utterly to the facts
Stick to facts to avoid messiness: “I’ve noticed you have been playing your music loudly until 1am.” This is very different from knocking on the door and shouting: “What do you think you’re doing? Who do you think you are? Where do you get off?”

Yes, I know it means you’re angry, but when you’re confronting someone, they need to know immediately why you might be angry.

Confrontation needs utter clarity.

4) Leave the insults in the playground

Like sticking to facts, deciding to get rid of the insults means you don’t get sidetracked. Sure you’re angry they’ve been thoughtless, but now they are ‘allowed’ to be angry because you’ve just insulted them. Now that becomes the issue diverting focus from what you wanted to discuss.

Insulting might discharge your frustrations in the short-term, but not as much as actually getting them to change their ways will do in the long-term.

5) The all-important “I” statement
Want to know how to make someone defensive? Start a sentence with the word “you”. “You never…!” or “You always…” The word “you” actually stops people listening because all their focus now becomes directed at defending themselves.

But “I” statements will give them less to challenge: “I’ve noticed that you…” is a gentler start up and is unarguable. They can argue with “You…”, but not with “I…”; if you tell someone you feel let down, they can’t actually argue with how you feel (even if they think you shouldn’t feel like that).

“I want to talk…”
“I’ve been noticing that…”
“I have been hearing loud noise coming from your room in the wee small hours…”

Don’t use the ‘you always’ it makes the person defensive and is incorrect, they don’t always……..
6) Be sure to communicate why it’s a problem
Once they know what the problem is (because you’ve stuck to the facts and started with “I” statements to keep them listening), don’t assume they’ll know why this is a problem for you. Tell them. Never, ever expect someone to be a mind reader. Some people feel that they shouldn’t have to ask people to behave reasonably; because people should ‘just know’.

Automatically assuming other people have your standards and values is a mistake: “Any decent person wouldn’t do that…” So tell them to be decent! Make yourself clear.

“The reason that loud music at 1am is a problem for me is that I have to rise at 7am to get the kids ready for school.”
“The reason that shouting at other staff members in front of clients is problematic is that it makes us all appear unprofessional and may lose us business.” (And if they can’t see why that’s a problem, recommend they take a year-long sabbatical to some place far away.)
“The reason never doing your own washing up is a problem is that it creates resentment in the house.”
7) Tell them what change you expect and tell them the benefit (threats are a very last resort)
If you were dealing with an ultra-considerate and sensitive person, then you could be much more subtle but, again, spell out what changes you want to see, and tell them why these changes will benefit you both:

“Okay, in future can we please agree that if you have something to say to another staff member, you will talk to them in the office where clients can’t hear and refrain from shouting?”

Seek agreement (if possible, in front of another ‘witness’). If you need to confront them again, remind them of their agreement (this is where the witness may be useful). If they refuse to agree, only then resort to threats such as: “Okay, well it’s a shame, but I’ll obviously have to inform the police about this late night noise.” If at all possible, though, avoid threats until all other recourses have been exhausted.

8) Above all, keep calm
Losing it lets them know that you are mad at them, but may confuse them as to:

Exactly why you are mad at them.
What you want them to do differently.
If you’ve lost your cool with someone, they may (not completely unreasonably) refuse to have any discussion with you in future. They may even feel the fact you became so aggressive is a worse misdemeanour than what you’d been angry with them about. But how do you stay calm?

The best way to keep calm is to rehearse not just what you’re going to say, but also how you’re going to feel.

Remember LOVE is an emotion that will create peace BUT walking in love does not mean you just have to be nice to everyone at the expense of your own emotional, physical and financial well-being. Jesus walked in love but was never afraid to confront people, his example shows us how love and peace work together to confront the hardest issue and person.

Fear of confrontation almost always arises from the expectation of an angry encounter.

Before you see them, close your eyes, slow your breathing, and just imagine yourself confronting them. See yourself looking so calm, being so clear, firm but fair; one clear message.

Please add your strategies or testimonies you have regarding confrontation

Be Blessed


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