By Harry Petsanis and Donna McCance
A summary of the definition of confrontation as described by various sources is the act of confronting someone about a conflict of clashing ideas, resulting in hostile, angry, and argumentative disagreements. When you confront someone, it means you face up to them to deal with a problem or difficulty.
No wonder so many people are afraid of it and avoid it.
It doesn’t have to be that way.
Confrontation is one of the healthiest and most fearful things a person can do. The fact that it is healthy is overrun by the fear of conflict because of the anticipation that someone is going to get angry.
This is when conflict avoidance is developed, which can be very unhealthy. When you bottle up your feelings, it doesn’t make them go away. To the contrary, they begin to fester and become worse. This is not only very inefficient, it’s also not good for your mental health.
People avoid confrontation and justify the avoidance by saying it’s not worth their time or energy . They lie to themselves by saying confrontation will only make the circumstance worse. They lie to themselves by believing they can actually avoid confrontation. Avoiding confrontation only creates greater conflict at a later point in time. The truth is, people avoid confrontation because they’re afraid and/or they think they’re taking the easy way out.
People don’t like it when others confront them because they don’t want honesty. They just want to have things go their way, and will get angry and bully people because they know most people will back down from conflict. How do you act or react when someone confronts you? Do you become defensive, react, deflect, and shut down? Or do you listen, consider what the person is saying, and have healthy discourse?
Most problems can be resolved efficiently and effectively through confrontation. The reason most things don’t get resolved is because people will use every excuse to not confront someone directly. In reality, justifications cause complications.
People choose to become passive aggressive, which conditions them to complain and vent to others as an outlet for their lack of action and confrontation. They try to ease their conscience and convince themselves that venting resolves problems, when in reality, confronting the person is actually a step toward resolving, or even preventing, problems. When people don’t want to do what's right and confront things properly, they will create every excuse they can, proving they are cowardice.
People fool themselves into thinking confrontation is an option, something you can avoid, instead of thinking of it as something necessary that you must do to identify issues, express yourself, and clear things up before they become a problem, or turn into an even bigger problem.
Most people's lives are dramatically affected because they don’t confront things directly and immediately. And like a ripple in the pond, they suffer lifelong negative ramifications for not confronting something directly and immediately.
Confrontation doesn’t have to be disagreeable, acrimonious, and emotionally exhausting. It’s actually extremely efficient, provides clarity, confidence building, and can be emotionally cathartic.
Conflict should be left out of the definition because it is a separate issue that arises as a behavior to deflect the confrontation. For example, you may confront someone about constantly leaving the door open without it becoming a conflict. When the person starts denying it or resisting your statements and you resist theirs while both of you are reacting emotionally, then it becomes a conflict.
If you determine confronting someone is not in your best interest, then there’s no benefit in doing it. However, you can’t complain about it and voice your dissatisfaction in private because then it is in fact an unresolved issue that needs to be confronted.
When deciding to confront someone, you must first think about your purpose, which is to resolve an issue efficiently and permanently. There are three key things that you must have in order to successfully confront people: assertiveness, emotional intelligence, and a plan.
There’s a difference between being assertive and aggressive. When you are assertive, you have the confidence and courage to speak up for yourself in an honest and respectful way. It helps you to match your actions with your words, which helps you to become less fearful and more transparent. When you are aggressive, you are forceful and hostile as a way to dominate.
In order to confront someone, fear must be left out of the equation. You just simply have to accept the fact that you need to take action, regardless (unless it’s a potentially harmful situation). You can take steps to help yourself deal with anxiety, such as deep breathing, mindfulness, staying focused, and not becoming emotionally reactive. As you become more self-confident and gain experience, you will become less anxious because you will learn in time that there is nothing to fear but fear itself.
Self-confidence and assertiveness go hand in hand. Being informed and prepared before confronting someone is essential. You must define your purpose, remind yourself of the purpose, and stick to your purpose. In this way, if the other person becomes emotional, defensive, and/or aggressive, you can redirect the conversation back to the purpose to dismiss deflection.
Remind yourself that you are in control. It’s entirely up to you if the confrontation turns into an argument. It takes two people to argue. Discourse, or a verbal exchange of ideas, opinions, and views is a healthy practice. People truly listening to each other's opinions without interrupting is healthy. Agreeing to disagree is healthy. Getting angry, defensive, insulting, forceful, taking things personally, and being demanding are all examples of being emotionally unintelligent.
Instead of reacting to emotional behaviors, you may make the decision to end the discussion for a later time when people are willing and able to have discourse, not an argument. But it must be clear, the discussion will continue until the problem gets resolved.
Sometimes it’s helpful to have someone else there during a confrontation to mediate or moderate. There may also be times when people are so adamant about having a discussion that you may need help from a supervisor, human resources, or another adult if the conversation is not work related. The fact that another person does not want to have an issue resolved does not mean the issue does not get resolved.
Writing your thoughts in a journal helps you to clarify the situation. You may find that there really isn’t an issue worth confronting because there really isn’t an issue, but something that you built up in your mind. If you do identify it is an issue that needs confronting, you can prepare yourself by writing down your purpose and plan of action to help keep you focused.
Another helpful step is to focus on changing your mindset so that you can develop self-confidence, work on being less fearful, stop being passive aggressive, and develop your authenticity. We have written blogs at our website here that address each topic in more detail. All this leads to your being a confident, assertive individual with a healthy mindset and ability to resolve issues efficiently and permanently before they become problems. This leads to a better life, a life of self-respect.
About the Authors
Harry Petsanis is a philosopher of human nature, mindset specialist, and lifelong fitness and wellness specialist. He is a writer and author, with three published books: “The Truth is A Lie,” “The Logical Path To Life,” and "Knowing Me from A to Z, A Child's Mindset," which he co-authored with Donna McCance, M.Ed.. Harry has a Bachelor’s Degree in Journalism. He has an intense passion for psychology and the human condition.
Donna McCance, M.Ed. is a business administrator, writer, author, licensed teacher and principal/vice principal with over 20 years experience teaching in elementary education and educational leadership. She has a Masters in Education, Masters in Human Services Management, Bachelors in Business Administration and Associates in Business Administration.
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The Truth is A Lie" and "The Logical Path To Life"
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"Knowing Me From A to Z, A Child's Mindset"