Healthy Confrontation Tactics: How to Become Comfortable With the Uncomfortable

Nobody enjoys confrontation, which is why there is so much avoidance surrounding the act of confronting others. We get uncomfortable at even the thought of sharing how uncomfortable we are. But, we must confront others if we wish to be truly happy, to rid ourselves of that uncomfortable feeling and to avoid passively acting out our true feelings. Throughout my own life, and those of my friends, I’ve noticed recurring examples in which confrontation is desperately needed, but rarely imposed: telling a parent about a bad grade, asking a roommate to clean up the shared room space, talking to your significant other about differing life choices, asking a professor why you received the grade you received, and so many more. 

Before I continue, I want to explain how I define confrontation. Confrontation, to me, represents the act of facing something that needs to be addressed head on in a proactive and calm way. Most of the confrontation tactics I see my peers using are one of two: ignore the problem until it ~magically~ goes away, or aggressively interrogate the person as to why they are doing what they are doing. Both of these tactics result in a worse environment than before. Ignoring a problem until it disappears is a fallacy; the environment which results is resentful and filled with negative energy. Further problems are likely to arise when the past ones are buried under a thin layer of self-deception. As for the aggressive tactic, imagine someone coming up to you and, out of nowhere, starts yelling and accusing you of things you didn’t know bothered them. I’m sure you would act defensive, and the result would be that no problem is solved, but rather each person feels angry and unsatisfied. We must learn to approach others in a calm and confident fashion that communicates clearly what we wish to accomplish. Here are some ways to do so:

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1. Take time to formulate what you want to say. With a clear outline of what you wish to communicate, you will feel more prepared, and, thus, more confident to face another person. This extended time period will also prohibit the explosive “in the moment” kind of arguing that  usually results in a screaming match. With time comes clarity and cooled emotions; the veil of immediate anger is lifted, and we can now formulate our plan of confrontation with both our feelings and the feelings of the opposite person considered. 


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2. Admit your faults. Evaluate where you have gone wrong and look at the issue from the other person’s point of view. This is a general practice that we should all implement in our lives. Viewing things from the opposite point of view opens our minds to change and helps us strengthen our own viewpoints. We can derive understanding and compassion from taking a step back from our preconceived views. 

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3. Overcome the feeling of embarrassment. It is common to avoid confrontation because we don’t want to seem “mean” or even come off as “wrong” or “dumb.” We must overcome this initial feeling of embarrassment because confrontation is necessary to promote a happier environment. If something is bothering you, then the best thing you can do to resolve the problem is promote a healthy dialogue about it. Healthy being the key word. Embarrassment can be overridden by confidence and motivation, so if you take time to formulate exactly what you want to say and understand that the problem can be fixed, then the embarrassment will dwindle. 

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4. Run it by others. Find someone you trust and run your plan by them. Asking others if your plan for confrontation sounds healthy and smart provides another layer of viewpoints. The additional viewpoint can point out holes or add value to your explanation. 

It’s easy to ignore a problem or to explode in the heat of the moment. But, the easy way turns into the hard way when unhealthy environments fester into full blown fights and unhappiness. By taking time to formulate a plan, admitting our own faults, overcoming embarrassment, and asking others, we can resolve issues in a healthy way and rid our society of viewing confrontation in such a negative light.