Here's why engaging in confrontation is one of the healthiest things we can do for our relationships.
I couldn’t believe I was being so dramatic! But before I knew it, I was slamming the car door and walking home. I knew it was an overreaction, but once I jumped out—pride wouldn’t let me go back. With each step, I found myself thinking —“What just happened?”
Once calm, I realized that my frustrations had been building over time. Melissa was a good friend, but she had the annoying habit of taking our friendship for granted depending on who was in her life at the time. One day, she was interested in having a conversation that went beyond her problems. And the very next, she was back to being selfish again. I wasn’t addressing the behavior. Yet, little by little, I was erecting a story in my mind. I thought I was handling it, but I was only letting things fester. That night, her selfishness proved to be too much and I lost it.
Conflict is not an easy part of relationships. Most of us dread the words, “We have to talk!” But engaging in confrontation is one of the healthiest things we can do for our relationships. It provides opportunities for growth, change and connection. But in order to get there we need the right tools.
Here are some of the tips I learned in working to strengthen my own confrontation skills that I shared for getting to the “upside” of conflict at a recent workshop I presented at General Electric:
1. Contextualize: Proverbs states, “Every story seems true until you hear the other side.” Regardless of the circumstance, your perspective is only a piece of the puzzle. Even if you are directly involved in the conflict, you’re not in the other person’s heart and mind. Context makes the difference and the only way to get it is by asking questions. Many times we think we instinctively understand, or know, the problem. But assumptions are not truth and living based on them is irresponsible and destructive.
2. Correct: Get yourself straight before you engage in confrontation. Take the time to identify your part in the conflict and then own it. Be aware of your personal trigger points so that you can properly weigh their part in the conflict. This will help you approach confrontation with an attitude of humility and a balanced perspective.
3. Confront: To confront literally means to have a “face-to-face” with someone. Too often we talk about the problems with everyone but the offender. If you’re not willing to talk about it with the right people, then you don’t have the right to be angry. Conversation is the only way to open the door to a different outcome. There are times when we need coaching from others to help us gain a different perspective or approach, but the purpose of that is preparation for the conversation that will make the real difference.
4. Connect: It’s not about blaming or being right. It’s about connecting and becoming stronger by working through a challenging time together. Use positive language and make sure the other party knows they are being heard and valued throughout the conversation. Don’t leave them hanging—affirm them. And make sure your language reflects the fact that you own your stuff. Accusatory statements can derail things fast!
Do Your Work! Identify the area where your conflict skills need the most work and begin to apply them. Focus on owning your “stuff” in relationships where you are experiencing disconnect.
Define Your Wealth! “I don’t complain, I choose to confront in love to make my relationships stronger.”
Named eWomenNetwork’s first “North America’s Next Greatest Speaker” in 2012, Coach Felicia is a Certified Executive Coach who empowers her clients to “Turn their Worth into Wealth” as she partners with them to DISCOVER their WORTH, DO their WORK and DEFINE their WEALTH. Get more insight, download the FREE “8 Choices Winners Must Make” seminar MP3 at www.coachfelicia.com.