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Dealing with Confrontation

Everyone experiences situations where we need to speak up. It may be to ask for a raise, demand better treatment, deliver bad news, relay developing facts or communicating how we feel. More often than not, we chose to avoid confrontation and conflict, but this can hurt ourselves as well as others, in our attempt to not escalate a situation.

Generally, when we do find the courage to speak, we can do it indirectly or with frustration and aggression. As a result, we can alienate the other people and create an oppressive and uncomfortable situation.

The fear we naturally feel when attempting to confront a situation is normal, it is due to the anticipation of trouble. We have amazing and imaginative minds that can fabricate hostility and conflict. The common result is repression of feelings or discontent. In my experience, the longer we take to “rip of the Band-Aid” the more it ends up hurting and the consequences can be devastating.

What makes most communication difficult is our need to be liked, loved respected, and yet we as humans have a constant desire to win, and a fear of loss. This leads to either aggressive or defensive responses in difficult situations.

The most effective way I have found in dealing with difficult situations is by approaching the other party with respect and viewing them as an equal. Another way is by promoting self-confidence, trusting my own ability and being honest.

How I get into this mind set is by using a set of questions

  • What is really happening here?

  • What do I feel about it?

  • What would I like to change about the situation?

Asking myself these questions, diffuses my natural adrenaline, and promotes my internal need for truth and honesty. The clearer I am in my answer to myself the better I handle the situation.

Every situation is different and with experience, time, and observation, you can learn an arsenal of different ways to deal with almost every situation. The important goal however is to be truthful to yourself.

Sometimes I will argue, antagonise and confront someone when they are sober, bigoted and aggressive. I will then pull back and give them the chance to respond and seek clarification of their response, I call this the catch and release of emotions. This is used to tire and confuse the other party, and to release tension. It is important that when I increase my emotional display I do so in a healthy and respectful way.

I will repeat their position to them, rebuke it, forgive it and eventually intellectually and emotionally tire them to the point that they believe we are seeking common ground. Although it sounds manipulative it provides ample time to communicate and seek to understand whether the aggressor is mentally ill, environmentally impacted, under the influence of alternative views or drugs, or just having a bad day.

Setting the scene in this way and directing the conflict and communication is only advisable when you are not exhausted, emotional or tired. When my energy levels are low, I have alternative methods I apply.

Asking those 3 questions allows me to clarify my goal to deescalate the situation. I have and will even ask those questions of the other party sometimes to get them to share the position or seek commonality as well.

The reality is confrontation and conflict will become easier to deal with over time, and with experience. The key is to not avoid it but to deal with it quickly. “Deal with confrontation quickly” I say.

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