Are you comfortable with confrontation? Be honest, did you break out into a sweat when I said that word — confrontation?
Most people aren’t at all comfortable with confrontation. In fact, most will do almost anything to avoid it. We tend to equate confrontation with a negative tone and past hurtful experiences.
The reasons for this are due to misbelief that confrontation has to turn ugly and inevitably will cause another person to not like them — but this does not have to be. Confrontation does not have to be ugly.
When done in a loving way, confrontation can actually strengthen a relationship. It can clear up sometimes fuzzy communication and remove any interference that often halts authentic relationship.
Confrontation does not have to cause the person you are at odds with to disapprove of you — even if it did, you can’t control how other people think about you anyway. I know from experience putting too much emphasis on how other’s think of you brings strife, not peace.
Comfortable Confrontation is Done in Love
Recently, I was confronted by a friend regarding a concern about something I wrote and shared on my blog. Her approach in confronting me was gentle. She did not choose combative words, nor did she make accusations.
Instead, she simply stated an observation in a kind and genial way regarding what she observed. She also followed up her observation with supportive encouragement and affirmation.
Her genuine and humble approach was direct, amiable, and effective. Not once did my guard go up. Although I was momentarily caught off guard by her observation, there was no alarm raised in feeling the need to defend myself.
In fact, her gracious appeal nudged me to recognize my error and improve the post in the process. Because of my friend’s willingness to love me, by confronting me directly with tenderness and respect, I was able to recognize the value of her friendship. It has made it a more genuine and trusting place for me.
Avoiding Confrontation Brings Disconnection and Distrust to Relationships
Conversely, when someone hides from confrontation an unbalance can begin to form for one or both parties. When we avoid confrontation and just sit on the problem we allow a disconnect to form between us and the person we have conflict with.
As women we also mistakenly often bring other people into the conversation instead of directly confronting the person ourselves. While having another person as a sounding board may help us consider how to approach a situation, too often we use this as an excuse to delay or reassign others to be part of the encounter.
When we bring other people into the equation, regardless of our noblest of intentions, it can cause the person being confronted to feel like they are being ganged up on or gossiped about. Sometimes in our desperation to not to offend or hurt someone we end up causing even more hurt and pain.
When we choose to not directly confront in love and ask someone else to do so, it causes feelings of not being safe to trust those you may have previously trusted. Misunderstanding is easily bred due to the lack of confidence of talking directly to the person you have conflict with.
Again, confrontation does not have to be ugly. The key to successful confrontation is to approach them authentically. This means before you confront someone you have issue with you may need to take a step back and examine yourself and your own motives.
Four Questions to Ask Yourself When you Find Yourself in Conflict
I am not an expert on confrontation. In fact in the past I was pretty awful at it myself, either coming on too strong or avoiding it altogether. After several situations of trial and error I began asking myself some questions. These questions have helped me navigate sticky conflicts with friends and colleagues and prepare for confrontation.
What is the real root reason for the conflict?
Am I more interested in resolution of the problem or reconciliation of the relationship?
Are there any assumptions I am making about the situation or person?
Is there a win-win scenario in this conflict that can bring both resolution and reconciliation?
Recently, I used these questions regarding a conflict in an online group I am part of. Due to a ‘slip of the tongue’ during a conversation with a fellow group member, she revealed there were several concerns about me discussed among other group members. They came to her for advice of how to handle it.
I felt quite disappointed and somewhat betrayed that several of the members had come together and talked about me. I also felt embarrassed and hurt they felt the need to go to another group member, who was a mutual friend to discuss their concern and not approach me directly.
Very quickly I felt the comfortable walls of protective isolation rise around me. Soon after, I experienced anger. I began contemplating the need to confront the women whom I felt were cowardly to involve others instead of approaching me directly.
I had to intentionally take a step back and re-examine why I was feeling so offended and hurt. I had to question if I wanted and needed to confront them about it. I also had to check myself to see if their concerns were legitimate and decide how (and if) I would interact with the group in the future.
Conflict is Inevitable
The truth is conflict is inevitable within a group of people, especially women. When conflict does arise we have the responsibility to take action(s) in order to restore peace. When we find ourselves in a situation needing to confront another person, we must remember that some of our differences may never be completely resolved, but we can be reconciled with one another in peace.
Hiding from confrontation does more damage than good most of the time. Instead of hiding from encounters that might be uncomfortable, we can lovingly and authentically choose to resolve and reconcile the situation, humbly, graciously, and in genuine friendship.
We can choose to be iron that sharpens iron, continuing on the journey with one another, rather than against one another. When we face the hostilities that are lurking in our own hearts, before we add another person to the conversation, we are working toward peace.
We don’t have to be afraid of confrontation. Sometimes it makes our friendships stronger, unified, and more authentic — and who doesn’t want that?
If confronting in truth in relationships is important to you, you may be interested in this post: 5 Reasons why Truth Telling is Important to Relationships
Questions to ask Yourself:
Am I comfortable with confronting those I love when there is a conflict?
What is it about confrontation I am most afraid of; it turning ugly or the disapproval by others?
Is there someone I am currently in conflict with that I can confront in love for the purpose of resolution and reconciliation?