Very few people enjoy confrontation. It often stresses us out and it brings out the worst in us. It’s actually a unique subject to me because I live in Minneapolis, Minnesota where people are traditionally extremely anti-confrontational. And I’m natively from Germany where people are much more outspoken and vocal which leads to more confrontation. No matter where you live or how much you dislike it, you will still have to deal with confrontation
Approaches To Confrontation
Extremely Passive Aggressive
Passive aggressive people are people who are averse to conflicts will deliberately be inefficient. They may not communicate or they may simply pout.
On the other hand, high conflict people often have an all-or-nothing attitude. They have elements of victim blaming and they’re very aggressive and they look at it more like a battle.
In my experience neither style is productive to actually solve a conflict. So, here is how you can actually get some results.
Keep in mind that the goal of a confrontation is that you solve an issue and improve things. In order to get there, you need to have an open and honest conversation about the issues without being hurtful.
Common Myth: Confrontation = Bad
I would argue confrontations are not bad. The core is just a disagreement between one person and another. We’re all individuals and because of that, there will be confrontations. Just look at a confrontation as a starting point. Rather than trying to avoid it and feeling bad about yourself or others or angry, it’s better to tackle the issue right on. Avoidance will not solve your problems, they will just amplify them and make you feel bad. You may have some bad experiences of confrontations in the past and I hear you, but that doesn’t mean that all future confrontations will end the same way especially if you utilize the points outlined in the video. Keep in mind that you can be assertive and kind at the same time the choice of words
How To Handle A Confrontation Like A Gentleman
It All Starts With You
Take ownership of your issues with confrontation or maybe the elements that contribute to it. Most people I know range anywhere from being a complete pushover who goes along with anything the other person says to a constant aggressor who always wants to tell other people what to do and what is right. Both extremes are unhealthy in the long run and it really helps to put you in an uncomfortable position to try working against it. So if you are generally more of a pushover person that is easily influenced by others try to stand up for yourself and have not others dictate what you do.
On the other hand, if you’re aggressive, it may get you sometimes what you want, but in the end, it just makes you a bully that is not liked by others. In the long run, it will hurt you and your reputation. If you’re mad at someone or you disagree with them chances are you have been doing something that contributed to that situation. If you admit that you make a mistake you don’t all of a sudden lose all credibility. On a contrary, it shows that you’re self-reflective and that you’re open and vulnerable. By leading with an apology and recommitting to a better outcome is it will likely instill a similar behavior with your confrontation partner.
For example, if I’m unhappy with a co-worker because he’s constantly late and I feel disrespected and I feel like my time is wasted I shouldn’t just phrase it that way. Instead, you could say, “You know in the past I know I haven’t always been on time for our meetings. I sometimes had to deal with my daughter, but I promise I’ll do my best to be on time in the future. Lately, I noticed that our meetings haven’t started on time and when you come late to meetings it really makes me feel undervalued and disrespected and I would like to ask you to really recommit to our meetings and try to start them on time.” By making it more about you and how you feel and by avoiding extremes and superlatives, the other person won’t feel as attacked.
Ask What They Think And Feel
As a next step, you can ask them what they think about it, what their feelings are that shows them that you care about what they have to say. Even though you might think the other person is probably to blame for an issue. Think of it this way, you’re two people and so you’re 50% of the confrontation. Take responsibility for your part and I promise you the resolution will be easier and better for both of you.
Going with a mindset of a mutually beneficial resolution rather than I want to win and I want to be right. Someone with a legal background, that’s quite hard but it’s not good to resolve a confrontation outside the courtroom. Especially, if you’re afraid of a conversation you may want to wait for a “good time.” The problem with that is there is no such thing as a good time for a confrontation and the best time is right now. Of course there’s a caveat, ideally, you have a confrontation in person or at the least over the phone. Doing it over text message or email will just prolong the whole conflict and on top of that, it’s hard to read into words because you don’t see how people say things and there’s no tone to the words. So try to have it in person or at least on the phone so people can really see what you mean.
It’s very important to stay calm even if the other person is riled up. In those situations, it can help to have a pause in there and just keep your composure and don’t tell them what to do but lead by example. If someone screams at you and you scream back they have dragged you down to their level.
The next point is to genuinely listen to what the other person has to say. If you mentally prepare your answer all the while the other person is talking you’re not really absorbing what they’re saying what their core issue is. Sometimes confrontations can be easily resolved because it’s just a feeling that is hurt or something that you don’t even do intentionally but you’re in fact hurting another person. To ensure they understand, listen. It’s best to paraphrase what they said in a sentence with your own words.
Steer Clear Of Absolutes
In a confrontation, always stay clear of absolutes. Using things like, “Oh you never clean the dishes,” or “You always leave your socks on the table,” will not get you any further. It also provides ammunition for the other side to point out singular cases where those things weren’t the case and then make you look like you’re just over exaggerating.
Rather than blaming the other party, try to stick to “I” statements and talk about how it makes you feel. This not only forces you to focus on your side of the conversation but it makes the other person feel less attacked. For example, rather than saying, “You never show up on time.” you could say, “I feel disrespected when we can’t start the meeting on time.” Do you see? I made it about me and my feelings not about them. If they think about it they know I feel disrespected and we start late because of them but I haven’t said that and they have made that transfer knowledge in their brain and therefore they are more open to change.
Focus On One Issue
Last but not least, try to address just one issue at a time. It’s very easy to put all kinds of different things into one argument but that will rarely help you to resolve anything.
Ultimately there’s no cooking recipe or perfect solution to resolve every conflict but these concepts will surely help you to get a result that is mutually beneficial. It makes you feel better about yourself, the issue and the other party.