Confrontations – Not Always Easy but Often Necessary

I’ve had several people in my life that I needed to confront about poor behavior. Sometimes, my behavior needed adjusting, and other times, it was theirs. A few times, it was both parties at fault. Yet, if we had not confronted the issues head-on, they would escalate into more significant problems with much resentment down the road. I’m the type that holds a lot of frustration and anxiety internally until I can’t keep it in any longer. Some people closest to me will tell you that when I have had enough drama, I have this stance that I take. My friends call it the “Mini Willie” stance because they know I’m about to turn into a rendition of my mother. My mama doesn’t take crap from anyone, and she intimidates many people around her, including myself.

As I’ve aged, I’ve discovered that suppressing our emotions is often detrimental to our health. Sure, there is a time and place for everything, but that doesn’t always mean that it’s okay to allow others to walk all over us or use us until there is nothing left to use. I’ll give you a couple of examples from my life that you might be able to relate to in your life. As a preacher’s kid, I have mixed emotions about churches. But one of the things that I know without a shadow of a doubt is that if churches or any business don’t cater to the community’s needs, they won’t prosper in the long run. When the current pastor at my church first came, he alienated many in the congregation. So much so that they wouldn’t return. I took matters into my hands to confront him after it became personal. When my dad got sick, the pastor did not handle the situation well. He didn’t keep his word about many things and was flippant in his actions. I tried to remember that he once worked as a manager at McDonald’s and then went into seminary. Still, the buttons he continuously pushed with my family and me continued to escalate. When my father died, he tried to shake my hand, and I’d have nothing to do with him. I was livid at his actions.

It took a while to confront him, but I’m glad I did. We both cleared the air about many issues, and he learned from that conversation. Sometimes it takes a confrontation with a person neutrally to resolve. It made me think about how people could handle various conflicts to meet or exceed common goals. Here are some of the tips I found that might help you. Many different online sites talk about the best ways to handle necessary confrontations, so I hope this information helps you.

1. Identify the problems with being a pushover.

You can’t change your behavior if you aren’t willing to admit an issue with your attitude and how you let things build up. If this issue applies to you, you may want to start by writing down problems you might experience when you avoid confrontation. If you come home from work stressed out, why are you stressed? Is it an issue with someone you work with, or are there other issues? If you can identify what’s causing the root of your anxieties, you can begin to sort out solutions to those problems.

2. List what you might gain by speaking up.

My dad used to say that you won’t complain about an issue if you don’t speak up. I think he was trying to say it’s the same thing with voting. If you don’t vote, you don’t have a right to complain about the issues at hand, whether it’s in politics or business. We all have voices, and sometimes people want our voices silenced. If you believe in something strongly, you need to voice your opinion. Otherwise, those opinions will brew over the long haul, and the reactions that occur from them may not be positive. Listing your thoughts on a pro and con list can help you figure out the best course of action for your voices to make an impact.

3. Reconsider your assumptions about confrontation.

When we allow fear to overtake us, we assume that people will not like us or appreciate our views. Most of the time, that’s not the case. But, fear itself is a severe issue. Many people like myself may reflect on memories from childhood that still affect them to this day. Confronting issues head-on doesn’t need to be violent or scary. There’s a fine line between respecting others and blowing off steam. Think about what you need to say and how you can make others aware of your views without causing a firestorm. People tend to think better when respect is part of the solution and not the problem. In reality, confrontation is healthy. There are many kind—and assertive—ways to speak up and express your opinion, and doing so might improve the situation more than you ever imagined.

4. Address one issue at a time.

This item is a mistake many people make. Let’s say you have one person in the picture that you don’t like to confront; you might want to choose one issue to address. If you pick the most significant problem and stick to that one issue, you might find a solution and keep from having an angry conversation. If you add a list of topics at one time, you might find yourself getting off track and off-topic. Start small and see where that goes.

If you avoid speaking up to everyone around you, pick a safe person to confront first. Maybe you want to start with a trusted friend or family member whom you know isn’t going to blow up at you. When you address minor issues and work your way up to bigger ones, your confidence can grow, and you learn how to navigate confrontations and conversations better in the long run.

5. Stick to “I” statements and work on staying calm.

“At the heart of all good communication is the ability to stick to “I” statements. Rather than saying, “You’re so arrogant in meetings, and you never even bother showing up on time,” say, “I am concerned about the way you address the group, and I feel disrespected when you arrive late.”

Avoid being overly accusatory; express what you think and how you feel. Most importantly, take a few deep breaths and don’t let anger get the best of you—even if the other person lashes out. The goal is to be assertive, not aggressive.” (From Psychology Today.)

6. Keep practicing one small step at a time.

Not every conversation and confrontation is the same. Sometimes people need to gauge a situation before trying to solve other problems. The more you do something, the easier it gets. Learn to speak up for yourself and take things one obstacle at a time. You might not master the art of confronting people, but at least you can control how you handle and react to various situations.

These tips came from an article in Psychology Today. I appreciate some of the information in their blog because it becomes challenging to say what I think. I wouldn’t say I like giving the impression that I’m difficult to get along with because I’m a relatively laid-back individual. But I also don’t want people to think I’m a doormat. My point is I know many who struggles with confrontations. People are not always predictable. I’ve seen individuals that I never thought would get upset about different issues fly off the handle when confronting others over various topics. If my conflict resolution classes from Guilford College taught me anything, it’s that staying calm and processing information before I open my mouth can be life-changing. So far, I’ve found that information to be accurate. I hope this information helps you along the way. Have a great day, everyone.

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