Are you always scared or wary of confrontations? Do you know that confrontation is a tool that can be wielded for either a positive or a negative outcome? Have you learnt to use it efficiently and effectively? Confrontation, in this sense, refers to a conversation between two parties about uncomfortable/tough topics pertaining to the issues in their relationship.
It is a known fact that most people dread confrontations like the plague. I once worked with someone who was so afraid of confrontations, that she shivered at the mere mention of the word. At the slightest sign of it, she flees as if she had the hounds of the devil after her. If she had to stay, she would cry all through and could not utter a word. Even in the workplace, it was so bad that everyone knew this weakness of hers.
And of course, most people used it against her. They tried to dominate her and impose unnecessary authorities on her, even those that had no right to. Her direct supervisor felt she was not firm and emotionally-balanced enough to step into any management position. And so, she was passed up time and again in favor of another person when she was meant to be promoted. A simple use of confrontation as a tool could have solved this.
The truth is that no matter how we wish otherwise, confrontations must arise. It is, therefore, pertinent to know that confrontation is a tool; an essential tool that can help in personal growth and career advancement. Without confrontation, the chances of advancing so fast and smoothly is slim. This is because success often does not happen by chance. You have to desire it enough, work towards it, and make sacrifices including confronting those people or issues that seem to be a blocking stone to your success.
So, how do you make your confrontations as effective, productive, and healthy as possible? How do you use confrontations as a tool for improved productivity and advancement? How do you initiate a productive confrontation? Here are a few strategies;
DETERMINE THE SEVERITY – One of the most important decisions you have to make while deciding to confront an issue or person is the severity of the issue. Is it a breach of trust? An issue you consider very important? Or is it a mild issue that you can easily overlook? In as much as you should never dread confrontations, it would also be wise to avoid unnecessary altercations. Attaching too much importance to mild issues would only devalue important issues when they finally arise.
PREPARE YOURSELF MENTALLY – A confrontation that you want to be constructive and productive is not one that you can start up anyhow without adequate preparation. Take the time to mentally prepare yourself and figure out what you want the outcome of the confrontation to be. This is also the time to look at things from the other party’s perspective, True, he or she may be at fault, but it also doesn’t mean he/she is totally wrong. What is a six for you can be a nine from the other perspective.
CHOOSE A SUITABLE TIME, ENVIRONMENT AND/OR MEDIUM – One important factor most people neglect in the haste to confront issues is timing and environment. A friend once told me a sad story of how he neglected this factor while he was trying to confront his lover. Apparently, they had gone partying and an altercation had ensued. Rather than keeping calm and waiting for a suitable time to address it, he had demanded for it to be addressed right there. In the heat of anger, he created a huge scene. His lover was so embarrassed that she called off the relationship right after. This is a clear case of a confrontation that went wrong due to wrong timing and environment.
Therefore, choose a time when both parties are not fuming with anger or holding a defensive stance. Also, choose an environment that is conducive to address such private issues. A market, lecture hall, or church is hardly the place for this discussion. But a quiet restaurant, hotel, apartment, or parks can be just the right fit. Alternatively, you can choose a suitable medium if both partners live far from each other. Email, phone, or video calls are some suitable ones.
STRIVE FOR POLITE LANGUAGE AND TONE OF VOICE – When it comes to confrontations, your language, and tone of voice make all the difference. Any person would react negatively if you use a harsh language and a raised tone. To the best of your ability, strive for a cordial conversational tone. Avoid laying accusations that will make the other party go defensive. Remember that your aim is to solve the issue and not compound it.
REACH A MUTUALLY-BENEFICIAL AGREEMENT – The ultimate goal of every confrontation is to reach a favorable agreement and possibly eliminate future occurrences. You’ve taken the time to prepare yourself mentally and you have already figured out what you want the outcome to be like. At this point, it is easier to reach an agreement because you have the power to steer it to the direction you want it. Be firm about the agreement and ensure your partner understands how important it is not to have a repetitive confrontation.
It is generally wise to only initiate confrontations when both partners are calm and sentiments are put aside. It always helps to understand your confrontational style and possibly that of your partner’s style (if in a love relationship). With the above-mentioned strategies, you can use the tool of confrontations effectively and productively in your relationship.