This above all; to thine own self be true. -William Shakespeare
I am so non-confrontation that even the mere thought of saying anything to someone that might rub them the wrong way or cause any discomfort has always given me instant anxiety.
Since I can remember, I have been this way. I’m opinionated and strong-willed, but when it comes to confronting a problem with someone head on, I’ve always buckled, preferring to dance around the subject, hoping that it will resolve itself.
If this at all sounds like you, you know it’s an exhausting way to live. I’ve always said I am like that because I don’t like to cause discomfort on others. But it’s become obvious to me in the last few years that this approach of passiveness doesn’t prevent discomfort, it actually prolongs it.
It’s time to speak the truth…out loud!
When I started facing uncomfortable situations head-on and out-right, it was like a weight lifting off of me. I still need to take my time to process my thoughts and I don’t like to deal with major issues without this period of reflection so I can be sure to look at all angles but ultimately, I confront the issue sooner than later.
It’s incredible how much more simple life becomes just by facing confrontation instead of tucking it away. Here are a few techniques I’ve used to overcome my powerful dislike for confrontation.
1. Is it truly a confrontation?
When I started specifically asking myself this question, I realized that I tend to categorize any little difference of opinion as a possible confrontation and in return giving the encounter much more weight than it actually needs.
Recently, I was in an a large group meeting in which I didn’t agree with the ideas that were being discussed. I decided not to speak up because I was afraid that I was in the minority with my opinion. I was so concerned about the discussion that I brought it up at the end of the session with my boss.
When I spoke my mind, I realized it wasn’t a confrontation at all. Our team discussed it again at the next meeting and I spoke my mind. It ended up being a wonderful discussion and the team was actually able to move some great new ideas forward.
So, when you’re facing what you perceive as a confrontation, ask yourself if it really is a confrontation or just a discussion that includes some difference of opinions.
2. If confrontation is necessary, think through what you want to say.
Often confrontation ends up being tension-filled and uncomfortable because we bring emotion in to the moment. It helps to take the time and think through the situation first. Plan out what you want to say and identify your purpose.
Give yourself some time, write down your thoughts and then deal with the issue.
3. Don’t wait for the other party. Speak up.
Being the first person to speak can be helpful. It sets the tone for the conversation and can relieve some of the anxiety the other party may have about confronting the situation as well.
Say what you want to say but do it in a non-threatening way. Acknowledge that you see things differently which is why you’re bringing it up versus going on the attack.
4. Be true to yourself.
It was really powerful when I figured out that I’m worthy of speaking my own truth. I realized I was putting so much equity in how the other person might feel that I dismissed my own concerns. Don’t forget that your opinion matters and you should always be true to yourself.
Avoiding conflict also leaves other’s constantly guessing how you feel and if they can’t read you, they certainly will have a harder time trusting you. Putting off confrontation only prolongs a difficult situation and often makes it even worse but learning to handle it in the right ways remarkably makes life feel much more peaceful.
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