At some point, you’re going to find yourself in a situation that requires confrontation. It can be super uncomfortable and stressful causing further damage to our mental health if we are not careful. Whether it’s a disagreement with your boss or your significant other, confronting someone can be done so that you feel validated and respected.
Confrontation is a normal part of life, and it’s worth the effort to learn how to deal with it effectively.
Confrontation can be positive (when you speak to someone you are working on a project with to try and reach the same goal) or negative (when you confront someone who has violated your boundaries).
It’s important to understand that confrontation doesn’t have to mean conflict; it just means speaking up when there’s an issue or disagreement between two people.
Confrontations aren’t always easy conversations, but they’re generally beneficial for both parties involved because they give each person the room needed for growth and maturity.
The conflict expert (https://the-conflictexpert.com) explains how conflict directly impacts our mental health:
How Conflict Affects Mental Health
Conflict can often result in anxiety, depression, stress or insomnia for the following reasons:
- It can be very expensive, especially if lawyers are involved. This is especially hard to deal with if you are already in financial difficulties.
- The result can sometimes be unpredictable. You can never predict what a judge will decide and it’s often not clear whether a negotiated settlement is desired by the other side.
- Sometimes parties are unreasonable and will not change their position, especially when dealing with a narcissist.
- Conflict is scary. You’ll know this if you have faced a violent party or somebody who acts or speaks aggressively.
- It makes you feel vulnerable, especially if you are in conflict with a spouse, a business partner or somebody who you once trusted.
- It can change how you view the world. You can experience feelings of loss relating to a relationship, a conflict can change how you view the future and it can also distort your view of the past. This can be very difficult to accept.
We all must get really good at handling confrontations so that we can live healthy lives. I have been involved in confrontations that went well and those that didn’t. Some of them in my workplace and some in my personal relationships.
For example, one time I had a face-to-face confrontation and the other person was in a hurry. I said my piece and so did they; however, because the meeting was rushed and there was no time to set up the goals of the conversation, it became heated and overwhelming, and there was no resolution to the conflict. Alternatively, I had a face-to-face confrontation with a friend when I was planning a party (one of my favourite pastimes) and it did go well. Both the other friend and I felt we were understood and we found a resolution that was beneficial and didn’t cause any further damage. We both respected each other and put our egos aside, becoming compassionate even in the confrontation. We are still great friends to this day.
Not all confrontations with friends, however, work out successfully. To help improve their outcomes, I’ve now identified five tips that help me when handling confrontations:
1) Think before you speak
Now that you’ve had time to collect yourself, it’s time to have the actual confrontation. When this happens, remember:
- Take a deep breath and give yourself a moment before responding. This will help you keep your composure, stay focused on what matters in the conversation (and not be distracted by other things like how stressed out or angry you feel), and choose words that are going to work best for everyone involved.
- Don’t assume that your opinions are actually facts—consider other perspectives as well as yours. Remember that people who challenge your beliefs don’t necessarily have bad intentions; they could just want what’s best for everyone involved!
- Listening closely and keeping an open mind when having confrontations with others is crucial because it helps us learn more about what makes each other tick–and how we can all get along better together instead of arguing all the time over small disagreements.
As an extrovert, I always naturally feel the need to speak up in any empty space or talk if there is a pause in the conversation. Unfortunately, this hasn’t worked well for most of the confrontations that I have been in. Now, I make sure to take a moment before speaking to take a deep breath. I listen closely with an open mind and I am slow to get angry. This way of approaching confrontations has been so beneficial to not only the relationships in my life but also my mental wellness and overall health.
2) Be open
One of the most important things you can do to handle confrontation is to be open. Open yourself up to the other person’s perspective and let them know that you respect their opinion. It’s important for both parties involved in a disagreement to feel heard, so don’t cut off their train of thought by telling them they’re wrong or shutting down their point of view. If you are not sure what you want to say at first, just say that you need time to think about it so that you don’t feel pressured into responding immediately.
Asking the other person to give me time and space to think before responding has really helped me in approaching the confrontation with a healthy and clear mindset. This could mean taking a break for an hour or a couple of days to clear my head and calm down. For example, I was in a meeting at work and the other party provided me with new information in the confrontation that I had not previously known. The information was upsetting to me. Instead of quickly responding and maybe regretting things said when I was upset, I asked if I could take a break from the meeting. The other party agreed to this. I then was able to think about the new information, get a handle on my emotions and respond appropriately. I returned to the meeting with a positive attitude and was able to continue the confrontation with a clear mind.
If there are situations where open communication is hard or uncomfortable, practice having difficult conversations with people who are close friends or family members before approaching someone who might be more difficult or intimidating.
3) Take a deep breath
Here’s how: Take a large inhale through your nose, breathing in as much air as possible. Hold it for three seconds, then exhale through pursed lips (this will help with the relaxation). Repeat this five times and then feel your shoulders drop down and back. You’ll feel calmer and less likely to say something you’ll regret.
The reason why this works is because of how fast we breathe when we’re stressed out and anxious. Hyperventilating causes us to feel more overwhelmed than we actually are because it sends more oxygen throughout our bodies than needed, which makes our heart beat faster and raises our blood pressure. This actually decreases oxygen to your brain, though. The result is feeling like you’re about to faint or pass out. This overwhelming feeling can lead us into making rash decisions without thinking things through first, because your body is desperate to return to normal state.
When we take deep breaths instead of shallow ones during these moments, it gives us time between each inhalation so that they’re less frequent but still effective—meaning less stress overall! Start practicing these simple exercises today so that next time you find yourself in an uncomfortable situation where confrontation could happen soon afterward (like arguing with someone), you will already be prepared with one of the best tools for managing the discussion.
4) Don’t be afraid to say no
As with many things, there is a right and wrong way to handle confrontation. The right way means saying no when you need to. If someone asks you for a favour, it’s okay and perfectly acceptable to say no if you can’t or don’t want to do it.
You also have the right to speak up if someone makes you feel uncomfortable by asking too many questions about your personal life. People who are good at handling confrontation are assertive in their actions, but they also understand that saying no can be difficult at times. This is because we worry about hurting other people’s feelings and losing friendships or opportunities for jobs or promotions at work.
But the fact remains: There is nothing wrong with being assertive when confronting someone else with their bad behaviour or standing up for yourself against those who would act without concern for other people’s feelings.
5) Know when to let it go
If someone confronts you, they expect an answer or some sort of reaction from you. If they are yelling at you and accusing you of something that isn’t true, it might be tempting to yell back and argue with them until they believe what really happened was what actually happened. This is a bad idea because it just gives them more ammunition against you and doesn’t make them understand anything better than they did before they started yelling at you! Instead, take a deep breath and think about how best to respond calmly so that the conversation can move past the confrontation stage as quickly as possible without causing any further damage in its wake.
When you feel like you have said your piece, don’t say anymore. There is no point in arguing with someone who isn’t listening. If they continue to argue with you, walk away and do not engage with them further.
If they come back at a later time with more arguments or questions (or even just ask if they can continue), politely decline any further discussion until they are ready to listen reasonably without becoming aggressive themselves. This is really important to protect our mental health. Confrontations are difficult enough without them leaving scars on you mentally. We can and should protect ourselves from aggressive behaviour and walking away until someone decides to not act that way is perfectly acceptable. You will appreciate the health and wellness that comes from living this type of stress-free way of life.
It’s important to remember that not all confrontations will be easy. Sometimes, they can be incredibly stressful and difficult to manage on your own. It’s OK to ask for help when dealing with tough situations.
The next time you find yourself in a situation that requires confrontation, prepare yourself by reviewing these 5 steps. Putting them into practice will make it easier. If you approach confrontation with proper planning and the right mindset, it can lead to better results. Remember what you’ve learned here and don’t forget that you’ve got this!