It seems that the word “confrontation” is something we learned, or were taught, that is not acceptable. I see it as a form of communication - and an important one. It doesn’t have to be equated with conflict, though it seems we are inclined to make the two words synonymous. By definition, confrontation is a hostile or argumentative interaction. And conflict is an aspect of confrontation. But, confrontation does not have to be mean-spirited, aggressive, or overly intense. Most people don’t like expressing anger or having anger directed at them. This is understandable because anger is not a pleasant feeling. And, we tend to avoid feelings that don’t feel good.
I propose that we learn to tolerate, accept, and sit with all kinds of feelings and discomfort. When we allow ourselves to experience, to feel, a range of emotions, including the “bad” ones, we work through them much easier. When we avoid, or use other defense mechanisms to prevent feeling sad, mad, angry, etc. they still live within us; they just come out in different ways such as headaches, stomach aches, anxiety, depression, etc. or they could be displaced onto someone else who doesn’t deserve it.
The intensity of feelings actually dissipates when we accept them, tolerate them, or actually express them. Sitting with the feelings is the first step. This allows us to not act impulsively. When we immediately respond to someone with the anger we feel, the desired communication does not make it over to the other person. It is intercepted by the tone in which it is delivered and the outcome is likely to be unpleasant. So, it’s quite hard to “sit” with the feelings. Often when we impulsively express our feelings, it creates some relief because now we are no longer sitting with them. But what we have done is dropped them on someone else. It’s not always fair, and it’s often not effective. Then, the other person receives it, and either feels badly by the way it was delivered or it’s not heard in the way we intended or wanted it to be received, or with the outcome we envision, and combative friction develops. When we are intensely affected by someone else’s actions, we can be prone to defend ourselves or go on the offense; "fight back”. And fighting back often leads to attacking behavior. On the other hand, those folks who are willing to let their hurt or anger slide, are not getting their needs met.
What to do? Be intentional with your confrontation.
For more about this topic, tune in to What Would Dr. Meyers Do?, Episode #18.