If you are one of those people who naturally faces confrontation with ease and grace, you are awesome. Really, truly, awesome. And if you are like me, you are still awesome (😜), but we need a little help when it comes to getting things off our chest. Ok, we need a lot of help, but why is that? Why is it so hard to tell someone what is bothering us? For me, a few things come to mind:
1. I don’t want to hurt feelings.
2. I don’t want to get into a fight.
3. I don’t want to make things awkward.
4. I don’t want to ruin a relationship.
Ok, so yes, these are all legitimate concerns. But are they so scary that we should allow them to supersede our true feelings, leaving us to carry on as if nothing is wrong? Are they worth bottling up our emotions to the point of explosion? For the longest time, I answered “Yes” to these questions. It seemed way easier to shove my feelings to the side and hold on to the hope that things would get better without actually having to talk about it. At 35, I finally understand that it doesn’t work this way. I’m still working on becoming the person who faces confrontation with total ease and grace, but I’m happy to say that I’m making progress. Mainly because I truly believe that my feelings matter too.
Recently, I had some emotions boiling within me. They had been there for awhile and were just building on one another instead of washing away as I had hoped. Even so, I never said a word. But then one day, something very minor happened and I lost it. I couldn’t sleep, I cried sporadically throughout the day and was otherwise a mute. Not good. It occurred to me that I could not go on like this and it was time to let my feelings out. So I did. It took a lot of courage, a little hand trembling and some tearful words, but I got them out. And guess what? I did not hurt the other person’s feelings, we didn’t fight, things weren’t awkward, and the relationship was not even close to being ruined. In fact, quite the opposite happened. The other person empathized with me, loved me, and together, we discussed a way to make things better. And I know in my heart that the other person needed the talk just as much as I did and we are both much better for it.
I’ve been thinking about all of my confrontation fears and why none of them panned out in the above situation. One of the biggest contributors had to be the way in which I approached the conversation. What do I mean? I responded instead of reacted. My sister recently gave me this advice and it was one of those things you hear that immediately clicks and makes total sense. Responding versus reacting is a complete game changer when it comes to confrontation.
By responding, you do not attack the other person or use hurtful words, but instead explain your feelings in a calm and caring fashion.
In order for me to do this and still get my point across, it helped to write my feelings down on paper. I tried to take the other person’s perspective into consideration as to best understand the situation prior to discussing it. When we sat down, I said things like, “I know you didn’t mean to…but this is how it makes me feel.” and “Please know the only reason I’m bringing this up is because I care and love you so much…” Because that’s really what it’s all about, isn’t it? Caring and loving. We wouldn’t feel the need to confront people if we didn’t care and love.
By reacting, you will most definitely say something you don’t mean and will deal with regret on top of hurt feelings, fighting, awkwardness and possibly a ruined relationship.
There were plenty of times where I could have flown off the handle prior to our recent conversation, and while I could have said something sooner, I’m so glad that harsh and regretful language was never used. Because again, the only reason I felt what I felt is because I cared and loved so much. So why would I want to hurt someone I love, even if we both know it was in a moment of haste?
If you are thinking about confronting someone, it is most likely because you care and love the person. Sure, there are going to be those smaller scuffles in life such as when someone cuts in front of you in line, or when someone makes a big stink about nothing at the PTA meeting, but I’m talking about the bigger things. I’m talking about the relationships that matter in your life, the ones that make your life complete. These relationships are worth treasuring, and if confrontation is needed to keep the bond in tip top shape, then so be it. Remember, delivery is everything. It’s not what we’re saying, but how we’re saying it. Words have a funny way of sticking, which means we need to choose them carefully.
So the next time you’re faced with confrontation – what will you do?
A. Shove it to the side.
B. React with haste.
C. Respond with ease and grace.
I definitely vote C and I hope you will too. Do it for YOU and the ones you care for and love.
And with that, I’m off to Vegas y’all! If you’re lucky, you just might get a sequel to My Inner Party Monster post when I’m back. 💃
PS – Are my sisters amazing or what?! If you’ve been following my blog, I’m pretty sure I’ve referenced at least one of their words of wisdom in every post. So if you like what you’ve been reading, you can thank them too. Sisters, you are the best – I love you with all of my ❤️!