One of the very first lessons I learnt when I began my self-development journey was that confrontation is necessary. With my blunt nature, putting my new found knowledge into practice wasn’t too difficult; the major challenge was dealing with the responses and understanding what necessary really meant.
What is Confrontation?
According to my trusty source Dictionary.com, confrontation can be defined as:
- An open conflict of opposing ideas, forces, etc.
- A bringing together of ideas, themes, etc., for comparison.
I had grown to accept that if I had an issue with someone, it was better to discuss the problems rather than just ‘cut them off’ as I was famous for doing. It doesn’t take much to make me feel uneasy. Because of this, if I have had a negative experience or encounter with someone I will try to confront it immediately. I avoid seeking opinions and advice from other people with regards to personal matters, meaning that in most cases, I tackle the issue head-on, as soon as I have identified it.
My intention in 90% of cases is to come to some form of resolve, “bringing together ideas” that will leave both parties in a more favourable position. The other 10% of cases see me confronting situations for the selfish reasons- I want to rant and express my feelings more than I want to solve any problems. In fact, maybe this is more than 10%…
Dealing with Responses- It’s a Two Way Thing
It’s worth highlighting the fact that confrontation addresses conflict. A situation in which confrontation ends with schmiles and rainbows is dependent on how mature both parties are. It isn’t impossible, but it isn’t common either. This is the part I had somehow overlooked. When I confronted people, I tried to tackle the issue with a positive mindset, a calm spirit and an open mind- I knew what was bothering me and how to express this. The problem was that often, the other person wasn’t always as well prepared. Simply texting someone “we need to talk” isn’t enough. People don’t like to be caught off guard. What you intended to be an open discussion can very quickly turn into an argument ending with no resolution because people can quickly become defensive.
I also found that in some cases, people just weren’t ready. As I said before, I like to deal with problems as they come. Sometimes I’m just petty, but mostly I just don’t have time for childish games. You’ve got a problem with me and feel the need to indirect me through tweets? Please believe that I will like, retweet and then march through your DMs all within 30 seconds. If you don’t want to say it with your chest I’ll show you how. Most keyboard gangsters aren’t expecting this.
But all social media ‘fights’ aside because I’m not about that life… I’ve ended up arguing with people because I was in the right frame of mind to discuss an issue that they had chosen to ignore. Not everybody realises the need for confrontation- some people simply hope that things will just disappear on their own. This means that when you bring it up, their nonchalant response will leave you frustrated. It’s like trying to squeeze blood from a stone!
When is Confrontation Necessary?
This all taught me that confrontation is only necessary if you can be sure (or at least feel it is likely) that the other party is willing to have the discussion.
If you’re angry and you just want to air your feelings, there are many other ways to do this.
In the case that you feel the person deserves to know what impact they had on you and you feel they aren’t ready for the conversation, there are two ways to address this:
Firstly, you can do exactly that: tell them how you feel, but just for the sake of telling them. Prepare yourself for a situation where there is no apology, explanation or even a response. I made the mistake of confronting someone who wasn’t and will probably never be ready and for years I was ‘seeking closure’. That person didn’t need closure; they had buried the thought and moved on. They knew exactly how I felt and I knew nothing about how they were feeling. Spare yourself the hurt people; be mentally prepared for this possibility.
The other thing you can do is simple: wait. Depending on the depth of the problem, it might just be easier to wait for them to be ready. Maybe 5 minutes, 5 months or 5 years- it depends on the scenario. But be willing to accept the fact that you may wait forever and never have this discussion. By accepting this you have indirectly accepted that in this case, confrontation isn’t necessary and this is okay.
To me, very few issues require serious confrontation. I am of the opinion that confrontation is vital when the well-being of both parties is at stake. For example, if a long-term relationship is ending, confrontation could help to save it, or it could help to develop and prepare each person for their next relationship by teaching them important lessons. Whereas if I have only known the person for 5 minutes then I’d rather invest time in something with a larger impact on my life.
The most important lesson I want to share is that it is always crucial that you confront the issue itself first before the person. Is there a character flaw that you need to address? Hidden beneath the harsh words and offensive comments, is there an element of truth that has caused your hurt? Can you learn anything about yourself? Once you have answered these questions and done your part to make yourself a better person, then by all means, go ham!
Have the courage to confront people and do it from a place of love!
All the best,