Tuesday, February 12, 2013

The C word.

Relax! Not that C word. I'm talking about confrontation, a word some also consider a dirty word.
I'm here to tell you it's not a dirty word. It's all in how you go about it and why you go about it. The first thing to ask yourself is what you're looking to get out of confronting someone. Do you want to resolve a conflict and reach an understanding? Or do you want to tell someone all about how much they suck? Because that's telling someone to get bent, which is a different matter entirely. It's not confrontation in the name of conflict resolution. I have lots of tips for telling someone off, see me after class for those. Right now we're talking about confrontation.

Why is confrontation even a thing?  Allowing things build up to an epic crescendo isn't good. Usually letting anger and resentment fester results in a blowup in a time and place that isn't desirable over something that really doesn't matter. If you have something to say, say it plainly and be done with it. Confront the issue.

I know, for some people it's not that easy.

Do you get the confrontation jitters? Does your voice rise in pitch? Do you feel like you might pass out? Take a deep breath. Be calm and share your feelings. You're not a general leading your troops into war, so don't make an offensive charge towards your opponent and don't plan your defenses.

When we get defensive, we put up walls and stop communicating. Keep listening even when it's hard. Some things are hard to say and some are hard to hear. Remember that your truth is not necessarily the truth. If there are two people in a situation, both share some percentage of blame for getting there. Accept your part and work it out.

Talk to whoever you're talking to and not at them. Talking to people encourages give and take discussion. Talking at someone pisses them off and they either tune you out or freak out. If someone starts shouting at you or being aggressive, reflect the negativity back onto them and ask why they're shouting or being aggressive. That should neutralize the situation and enable a productive confrontation to continue.


Of course, not all confrontations will be productive. You will not always reach a balance.

Sometimes the person you're confronting isn't ready to deal with the issue at hand. You can't force someone into addressing something.

Sometimes you're making a big deal out of nothing. The small things usually aren't worth the confrontation, and if you go balls to the wall about every little thing, people will lose their patience for you. Pick your battles.

Sometimes it just isn't worth it. Every once in a great while we're in a no win situation with someone. In that case, I normally step back, adjust my expectations of our relationship, and go on without confrontation. It's not worth my energy.

Sometimes you're not ever going to get the outcome you need. A person's season in your life might be up, and it's best to just let the relationship fade out rather than confront them on something you know in your heart will never change, no matter what you say or do. If that thing is a deal breaker, bid them adieu.

Sometimes nothing will cure a situation except a punch in the face. Just kidding! Actually sometimes nothing will help except a little cooling off and time. Life is long, arguments are short. Give it a breather and some distance.

Standing up for yourself is good. Getting amped up over confrontation to the point where you can't actually make your point or wasting your energy on confrontation that isn't going to do you any good are bad. Know yourself, know what pushes your buttons, know what you want from people and situations, and do what you can to work with someone to get to that place.

Excuse me, I need to get a donut. It is Fat Tuesday.


  1. OMG. I do not like confrontations. Sean's Toy Story toy talking dinosaur Rex said"I do not like confrontations." I know they are necessary. Very good advice. May we all have a non-confrontational way. Oh and that other C word. The English and Celtic fans that one year
    at the Linc. Every other word was C. Perhaps they do not view it as we do. JMJ!
    Love your MOMMA.

  2. I meant non-confrontational DAY!

    Love your momma

  3. As always, I heart you. This post is fantastic and made me think back to when I discovered my precious nephew carved his name in my kitchen table My MIL ended up telling Hubby's sister, and it turned into drama. Sigh. .

    I may also forward this to Hubby. Hubby hates confrontation.

  4. I am confrontational. Sometimes I wish I wasn't but I am. and sometimes that's a good thing.

  5. I really struggle with the "it's not worth it" thing, especially in cases of someone you can't cut out of your life. Because while it probably won't get you anywhere, at least you've put it out there. I know you know what I mean.

    And then there are those times in a Baltimore pizza shop after a night of drinking when some jackass total stranger is calling girls anorexic and you just can't stop yourself from going off on him....

  6. i'm totally fine with confrontation but i try and approach the subject as a friend, not going at them with guns blazing. when things get heated, i keep my voice one octave lower because the higher pitch you go, the more defensive the person is.

    also, when i'm super pissed at something, i find that speaking cordially gets the best results. if you get angry and start yelling, they start yelling, everyone is yelling and nobody wins.

  7. I think confrontation = communication. It has to be the good and the bad and it's nice when you have someone on the other side that understands it the way that you've just described it.

    Unfortunately there are way too many that don't.

    I need to learn that, like you said, sometimes it's just not worth your energy. I give far too much energy to others who are not interested in having effective communication and conflict resolution.

    Thanks for this one!

  8. So so so true. I think I am either overly confrontational about trivial things with people I'm very comfortable with(cough, husband, cough) or not confrontational enough with the people I really need to stand up to.

    It's nice to take the stigma away from confrontation and recognize that it really is healthy. I hate hearing people say "I don't want to say anything, he'll just get mad." BAH! When lines of communication are severed, nothing good can come from it. And resentment begins to fester.

    Blog on, my dear, blog on.

  9. Ah, confrontation... I remember you...

  10. Are you sure you weren't ease dropping on the Mr and my conversation last night?! Lordy Mercy girl, I needed to read this! Preach it sista!

  11. I am more of a get bent confrontationalist. Luckily Jeremy is not and keeps me in check. You know so I don't kill our teens mom lol

  12. I hate confrontation! Mostly because I'm a big baby and talk a big game before/after the confrontation but during? I am a wimp. Haha. I need to work on that, but the most frequent place I encounter confrontation is at work and that's a little tougher than non-work situations! My dad always told me though that "once you yell, you've lost the argument" and that's something I've always rememebered!

  13. Very good post! I don't care for confrontation at all! I get so nervous when this happens and usually don't get out what I need to or say it in a manner that can actually help get my point across or a task completed...guess I need to work on this!

  14. I avoid confrontation, but sometimes things just have to be said. I actually thrive when confronting someone and don't get nervous. I guess I don't confront unless I know I'm right, so it's easy to back up my argument. But you're right, it doesn't have to be so negative!

  15. I find confrontation to be difficult - sometimes. I hate hurting people's feelings. And, I grew up with family members who would just snap your damn head off if you tried to help. They are still like that. That's why I'm glad I'm somewhere else. :/

  16. I'm not against confrontation and it doesn't have to go to a bad place. I had one very soft spoken friend who was constantly and intentionally pissing me off. Any time I brought up how her actions were bothering me, she would shut down, hang up on me, ignore me, and call me a bully. We're not friends anymore. Cause I'm so mean.


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