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Why Can’t We All Be Cool With Confrontation?

Confrontation gets a bad reputation. Why? Because it is handled poorly.

So many people are self-described as “non-confrontational.” They would rather allow their personal afflictions be not dealt with instead of having a conversation about what is plaguing them. Many people say that being “non-confrontational” is a method of dealing with issues and is viewed as a character trait.

The assumption that people are non-confrontational by nature is flawed. Although I’m no sociologist or psychologist, it seems unnatural to assume that some people enjoy confrontation as part of their personality while others don’t. What seems to make more sense is that some people are more interested in dealing with the afflictions against them than others. Further, different circumstances can illicit different responses.

Perhaps when accosted by a professor or professional one might be more willing to maintain a passive composure as not to stir the pot. This fear of confrontation might be justified as, unknowing how the other individual might react, it wouldn’t be ideal to risk jeopardizing a professional or academic relationship. A more passive role might be the better option as this relationship is not one that is built to last but rather is one that is required for a given period of time. Subsequently, the more jovial of a relationship one might be able to maintain, the better.

What happens when we take a passive stance in our personal relationships?

Being personally passive can be a big problem! People will only treat you in ways that you allow. If you are consistently passive in your friendships and relationships, they will eventually fail. This is because relationships grow as people do and without the constant effort to maintain your relationships, their growth will be stunted and eventually they will no longer be serving to you.

By being passive in your friendships you are not allowing your friends the opportunity to grow and maintain a positive image. The difference is that you are the only one who adopts this negative view of their style of friendship. Without being confronted, your friends likely won’t know if/when/how they might have been upsetting you. If you are someone who is consistently passive, then your friends will likely have grown accustomed to a certain style of interaction.

If you are displeased with an aspect of your relationship with someone, it is your responsibility to speak up. Dropping hints and being subtle about your dissatisfaction is passive aggressive and, quite honestly, disrespectful to your friends. If you have chosen to be in a friendship with someone then they deserve the respect that comes with that title. They deserve to know when they have done you wrong, and how. Most importantly, they deserve the opportunity to apologize and be a better friend to you. The saying goes “treat others how you would like to be treated” and nobody wants to be treated passive aggressively.

As for the confrontational person, it is important to be soft and receptive. Being able to handle confrontation well does not mean you need to be aggressive. Being amicably assertive is a wonderful social skill and tool. Learn to ask more questions and feed into the dialogue. Be available for low-risk conversations with those “non-confrontational” individuals with whom you are friends. Finally, there are people in your life who are not able to tell you when you have done them wrong and/or who you, in-turn cannot have a direct conversation with, it is time to move on. If the people in your life can’t handle your direct and forthcoming nature, that is a testament to their inability and not yours. Do not make yourself small to make others comfortable. Be bold, be blunt, be better.

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