“There can be no progress without head-on confrontation.”
― Christopher Hitchens, Love, Poverty, and War: Journeys and Essays
About 2 years ago, I had this staff member directly reporting to me who was bad-mouthing me behind my back. Apparently, she was blaming me for some lapses she made because according to her, I didn’t tell her of the consequences of her actions or inaction which, obviously, is her responsibility from the get go.
I ignored it at first and pretended that it didn’t happen but when I reached my boiling point, I knew I had to talk to her. I confronted her about all the things she’s been saying about me and I must admit, I didn’t handle it the way I should have. I could have done better if I knew what to do back then.
I’ve never been good at confrontations and I’m still not as we speak. I was never the confrontational type. In fact I feared confrontation and did my best to stay away from it because it makes me feel uncomfortable and awkward. I bet some of you feel the same way about conflict because being in one is never an easy feeling.
The bad news is confrontation is inevitable. No matter how hard you try to stay away from it, one way or another, you will soon get into one if you haven’t yet and it would be helpful to know how you should behave when that day comes and not follow in my footsteps. As such, here are some tips on how to handle a confrontation:
1. Be Ready
Just like a soldier preparing to go to war, you have to make sure that you are well-equipped or you’ll die. Think of the conflict at hand and what lead to this moment. Prepare the things you will say and the points you will make and keep in mind that this is not a competition and that you are not there to prove each other wrong but to settle your differences and make things right.
2. Stay Calm
One of the misconceptions about confrontation is that it is synonymous to a fight which clearly isn’t but most of the time, it can’t be avoided that a person would come into a confrontation with their emotions still high and their tempers flaring. These are the kind that ends up ugly. There’s shouting, cursing, and sometimes even violence that happens when both parties are emotional.
Before you confront someone, keep you emotions and temper in check. Stay calm. Breathe if you must because cooler heads prevail. Speak with diplomacy, use proper language and never put yourself above the other person.
3. Stick to the Issue
I had an ex girlfriend back in my high school days who was very confrontational and every time we have a misunderstanding, she would always dig up some of my previous shortcomings which really irritates me because it has no connection to our current spat.
If you are going to confront someone, stick to the issue and avoid bringing in other subjects or people into it. Focus on what it is that pushed your button so the other person would understand and respect your boundaries moving forward.
4. Give the Benefit of the Doubt
People have different reasons for doing things and most of the time, unintentionally, we do things that hurt other people. We get misunderstood and our intentions are questioned and before we know it, we are already embroiled in a conflict with the other person.
There are still good people out there and everyone isn’t out to make you miserable. Get all the facts straight before you start questioning people’s motives because for all you know, you may just be over-reacting.
5. Do not demand change
After the dust have settled, the one thing you would want to achieve is to make sure that this conflict does not happen again but make sure that you do not demand change from the other person. You may request or nicely ask the person you got in conflict with to recognize your boundaries and to do his best to respect it moving forward but never, under any circumstances, should you demand something out of the other person.
No one should be forced to do something. Rather, each one should learn from the experience and do their best to not step on anyone’s toes once again.
We all get into confrontations but it doesn’t have to be a negative experience. Every conflict should result in resolution and bring about positive change to the persons involved.
Have you ever been in a confrontation? If yes, how did that turn out?
I would love to hear your stories so please feel free to leave a comment or feedback below.
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