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Work It Out: The Art of Successful Confrontation

Learn to speak your mind in a way that contributes to ending conflict

Although often necessary and occasionally therapeutic, confrontation is seldom an enjoyable experience. Everyone has their own way of dealing with people or situations that are unacceptable, ranging from outright avoidance to an aggressive showdown, but many courses of action can leave you feeling uncomfortable long afterward.

The key to feeling confident and competent in confrontational situations is having a plan for a measured approach where, regardless of the outcome, you can feel good about taking a stand for yourself and articulating your feelings in a manner that is both calm and fair.

Stand up and speak out

A lot of us dread confrontation, and that’s a perfectly normal response. Whether it’s due to unsuccessfully resolved past confrontations, a fear of seeming difficult or unreasonable or simply discomfort around asserting yourself, try to accept that personal growth involves facing many different challenges, and confrontation is one of those.

Unjust situations aren’t likely to magically work themselves out in a way that makes you feel good, so it’s imperative that you advocate for yourself and that you know you’re capable of doing so. Like most skills, the more attempts you make, the more successes you’ll have, and the better you’ll feel about your abilities.

4 Key strategies for resolving confrontation:

1. Think things through. There’s a fine balance between overthinking a situation and overreacting without consideration, and both will create some anxiety. First, give yourself an appropriate amount of time to dull the initial onslaught of emotions. Although the advice to “sleep on it” seems cliché, it’s repeated so often because it’s effective.

Also, try to consider the issue from the other side’s perspective. Doing so can help you gain insight into their potential response and may help you suggest a solution that could be satisfactory to both parties. Write down a few different options for a response – one or two fact-based sentences – and see which one best resonates with you. Try not to take a “you vs. me” approach, don’t use hyperbolic words like “always” or “never,” and make sure your approach includes a reasonable suggestion for resolution.

2. Approach appropriately. Time, place, and tone are everything when it comes to addressing a difficult issue. Find a calm and private moment to politely request the attention of the involved party.

Set the tone by acknowledging the other party’s stance and affirm your commitment to the relationship and desire for a satisfactory solution. Also, when possible, acknowledge your role in whatever the problem is – people are far more likely to be amenable when you’re meeting them halfway and demonstrating vulnerability and self-awareness. It may be a good idea to role play with a friend or family member so that they can give an objective opinion on your message and delivery.

3. The power of silence. What you don’t say is as important as everything you do. Calmly and respectfully deliver your message and then be quiet. Don’t fumble to fill the space; if there’s an awkward silence, let it ride.

Leave room for the other person to share their thoughts and actively listen while they do so. Don’t start mentally composing your thoughts as the other person speaks. When you do respond, do so in a way that indicates that you’re considering their side, such as: “I hadn’t considered that perspective,” or “I can see why you may feel that way.” Don’t get sidetracked; stick to the facts involved with your original points.

4. Be willing to negotiate. Although you will most likely have a clear idea on what would be the most desirable outcome for yourself, don’t adhere too rigidly to any one solution. Successful confrontation requires collaboration – you’re going to have to work with the other person to find a middle ground that works for you both.

Think carefully about any suggestions the other person may offer, respond with the positive and negative aspects of the proposed solution, and offer additional parameters that could help resolve the situation satisfactorily.

Of course, not all confrontation concludes with a successful resolution. At a certain point, you have to give yourself credit for respectfully addressing the issue and then find a way to personally resolve whatever it is that can’t be fixed with the other person. However, it’s important that these social setbacks don’t prohibit you from advocating for yourself in the future. Learning to speak up for yourself is an act of empowerment that can lead to great personal growth and is a skill worth practicing when necessary.

Gigi is passionate about helping others claim their confidence and reach their full potential. Using a plan of inspired action throughout her life, Gigi is an expert at assessing situations and tackling obstacles until she is the only one left standing.

If you would like to learn how to become unstoppable like Gigi and find out how to get beyond your limits and fears to really start living with fulfillment, contact her today.

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