Confrontation can be uncomfortable. Most of us were raised with the idea that we shouldn’t upset others. Confrontation has a negative connotation, but it shouldn’t. It doesn’t have to be negative, hostile or upsetting. Confrontation is addressing a behavior you don’t like with the intention of finding a resolution.
If you’ve made a habit in your life of avoiding confrontation, review the tips below and begin to take action on some of those things that you know are hindering progress. Confronting issues in a positive manner is the healthiest way forward for everyone involved.
Handle confrontation maturely and calmly with these ideas:
- Understand that most “confrontations” aren’t confrontations at all. Sometimes we are simply afraid of sharing our own opinion. That’s not a confrontation. You have just as much right to your opinion as anyone else and have every right to share it in most circumstances. Sharing ideas isn’t confrontation.
- Understand what’s bothering you. Do you really have a reason to be bothered or are your expectations unreasonable? Everyone is unreasonable at times. Perhaps it’s just your turn. Ask a friend for his opinion if you’re uncertain.
- Determine the desired outcome. What would you like to see happen? Be specific and ask yourself if that’s a reasonable expectation. Be positive. Know what you want, not just what you wish to avoid.
- Be prepared. When you’re confronting someone, trying to handle the situation spontaneously isn’t ideal. Take the time you need to prepare, and if possible think of what you need to say and how you should say it. Your tone is important.
- Take control of the situation. Be the first to address the situation. You have more control and can set the tone for the remainder of the encounter. Be calm, cool, and collected, and the other person is likely to follow suit. If you’re hostile, expect hostility in return.
- Ask questions. Ensure that you fully understand the situation before making any requests. You may misunderstand the current situation. Maybe there’s no need for a confrontation at all.
- Stick to the facts. When you stray from the facts, you’re viewed as reaching. If you can’t make a legitimate claim with the facts you possess, more research is necessary.
- Let the other person know what you want, rather than request they cease a behavior. “I want you to arrive to work on time” instead of “I want you to stop being late.” Keep your request in a positive form. Avoid feeling anxious about your request. It’s just a request.
- Address behavior, but avoid assuming you know the motives of the other person. “When you’re late, I feel like you don’t care” is more effective than “I know you’re always late because you don’t care about this project.” You don’t know what the other person is thinking until you’re told. Making assumptions puts others on the offensive.
- Stay calm. Good things can happen when you remain calm. Any escalation in emotion will create more drama. Avoid taking anything personally. Share your opinion and let your request be known. Stay calm even if the other person becomes angry.
Confrontation can be positive. Confrontation provides an opportunity to improve the current situation. It’s normal to be anxious at the prospect of confronting another person, but avoid letting that stop you from sticking up for yourself. You’re entitled to your opinion. Learn to share it effectively.