Constructive Confrontation: Why You Need This Skill Right Now

Anticipatory dread:

Confrontation. Doesn’t the word send chills down your spine? When you contemplate talking to a friend, family member or romantic partner about something they did to upset you or something you need them to do differently, does it fill you with dread?

There are two criteria required for a successful confrontation:

  1. The person delivering the message has to be clear, concise, kind and respectful;
  2. The person receiving the message must be reasonable, vs. hostile, defensive, paranoid or crazy-making.

People you shouldn’t confront:

If you sense that the other person is likely to react badly to confrontation, it’s better not to confront them at all, and you might want to reconsider being associated with someone who is incapable of receiving constructive confrontation in a reasonable manner.

What do you want out of the confrontation?

Once you’ve ascertained that there’s a good possibility of the other person being open to hearing what you have to say, it’s time to ask yourself what you want out of the confrontation.

Why do people fear confrontation?

I’m thinking that discomfort with confrontation comes from previous attempts that didn’t go well. Maybe you didn’t go about it properly; maybe the other person was unreasonable?

The pitfalls of avoiding confrontation — anger and alienation:

When you avoid confrontation and hold back your feelings, they tend to accumulate internally, transforming into resentment and even anger.

The fear of rejection:

You should know that as long as you’re doing it right, a caring, reasonable person won’t abandon you for confronting them about an issue.

The benefits of constructive confrontation:

Constructive confrontation can foster greater intimacy and trust. Sharing your needs and feelings can deepen your connections and when confrontation results in a good outcome, it deepens the trust between people.

Five tips for successful confrontation:

1. Start by being affirming. Let the other person know how much you value the relationship, and that this is why you’re sharing your concerns.

Time to hone those emotional intelligence skills:

Things are opening up and we’re all getting back in touch with the people in our lives. That means you’ll be negotiating your needs with friends, family and loved ones. Confrontation can be a daunting proposition but like anything else, the more you do it, the easier it will become.

Writer, speaker, MD, and author of the Short & Sweet Guides to Life book series