Joyful confrontation an oxymoron?
It is possible. Doable. Real.
I admit, confrontations used to make me sick to the stomach when I was a child, a teenager and even till early adulthood. But then I had to change my attitude towards it simply because it was draining my energy not to confront. Not to speak my truth, my point of view, my perspective.
I just set my heart and mind that I’m going to be cool with it- come what may. And so I went on a journey of trials and errors and came out with a way to turn confrontations into meaningful conversations.
These passed weeks many discussions with clients and friends revolved around confrontation. “I just hate it” ” I want to say what I have in mind but I can’t”. “Ughh! It’ll hurt their feelings”. “not today”. “if I speak the truth, our relationship won’t be the same anymore”. “I wish they’d understand without me having to talk about it”.
So I thought I’d share my step by step formula to make it easy on you too if you’re struggling with confrontations or know someone who is. Hold on, if you’re a Confrontation Expert then please read through and you might want to share your insights and tips too.
First Let’s start with Deconstructing the fear of confrontation:
At the root, It’s a fear of rejection. The fear of feeling judged. Once a client explained it as a “painful fear of separation from those he loves”. It’s perfectly normal. (People pleasers may have huge difficulties with confrontation).
The upside of confrontation
Wanting to have that hard talk isn’t something to be avoided. It’s actually great news! It says how much you care for the other or the issue you want to address. In other words, confrontation is a pure act of love (it’s always about love!) and a willingness to remain connected (despite the difference). It’s a way of saying:
” Hey, what you said had this effect on me and I disagree because….. ” and
“I’m talking to you right now because I care about you and our relationship and I want you to know that….”
” I want to strengthen our relationship and that’s why I want to share this ….”
“Even if you have a different point of view which is….. I’ll listen to you and I want you to listen to me too. Because this is the way we will reach a place were both of us feel fulfilled/satisfied/in agreement/accepted (and yes: loved).
Or simply something along those lines ” I want to say something and I want to be heard cos it’s important to me. So listen!”
Having a conversation is very important in all sorts of settings- in business, at work, in a relationship, with a friend, lover and a family member. The difficulty of confrontation depends on the topic and the emotional tie with the person you are confronting. ( Think: Asking your boss for a raise -versus- telling your achievement driven parents that the thousands of dollars for X number of years on your tuition to become a Plastic surgeon are going down the drain and that your real passion is to become a diving instructor and to study how the great white shark mates and migrates)
What we’ll be doing here is shift the act of confrontation to creating authentic conversations and dialogue.
Here’s The Joyful Confrontation Formula!
Before The conversation
:: Acknowledge your feelings. “I’m allowed to feel angry, upset, irritated, sad, misunderstood, neglected, under valued……”. Strongly acknowledge your feeling. It’s your full right to feel it and express it.
Important: Make sure you don’t fall into justifying other peoples reactions “oh they did that cos they were tired or they’re going through a tough phase”. It’s a gentle way of bailing out on your self and not facing the music.
:: Clarify your Intention. That’s huge, before you step into ’The Confrontation’. Sit with yourself. Write it down if you must. Why am I having this talk? What is the point I want to get across? What do I really want?
This will allow you to move away from the emotional drama and get clear on your real authentic message.
:: Be a solver. What makes a joyful confrontation successful is to come in with a solution, with a perspective that’ll take the confrontation move towards a dialogue. Choose to be in solver mode.
:: How do you want to feel? We tend to forget that we can choose how we want to feel in any situation. I’m referring to the good feelings. Those feelings that open up your chest and make you feel in harmony with yourself. Do you want to feel joyful? Kind? Serene? Connected? Peaceful? Find your own good feeling. Make it a conscious choice. It’ll set the tone. Expand it. Cultivate it. Nurture that feeling throughout your talk. It’ll help you not to slip into getting overwhelmed and flooded by your emotions and feeling the pain or awkwardness. Take the lead.
During The Conversation
:: Say it as it is. be true to you. Using “I feel ….” and ” I want…..”.
If you still feel knots in your stomach rehearse out loud (no joke). Ask someone from your circle of influence (very helpful) to listen to you and give you feedback. And if no one’s around you can record yourself and give yourself feedback!
Important note: Avoid saying ”You are not understanding/unloving/ …” turn it around to ” I feel unappreciated, misunderstood, undervalued, I feel unloved”. OR “I want more understanding between us. I want to feel more appreciation. I want more love”. It takes you out of the emotional drama. It allows the person to listen to you versus feeling judged and rejected. Remember your intention and remain a solver.
:: LISTEN During your confrontation. Listen to what the other has to say too. Create a dialogue. Ask questions. What about you? how do you feel about that? what do you suggest we do? And also propose your own solution
:: DRAMA-FREE: Remain Anchored by being a solver + rooted in your intention. So you don’t fall into the trap of becoming flooded by your emotions that you can’t have a proper conversation.
:: SMILE! Smiling people, do less and get more. Trust me on that.
:: BREATHE. Put your attention on your breathing as it brings you back into the present moment. Calms you down.
Take it easy on yourself. The more you train to converse the more you build that muscle. It’s a process! (I prefer to use the verb converse rather than confront I think I made my point!).
NOW BACK TO YOU: What’s that thing you want to get off your chest? What do you want to say to someone but haven’t been able to? How do you deal with having hard talks? What would become possible for you when you do say what you feel/want as it is? What’s one joyful step you want to put in practice right away?
Bonus Tip: Find a person around you that is a Confrontation Queen/King. Ask them for tips. Have them as your mentor. You can’t imagine how this removes the pressure. And we all have a person like that in our circle of influence. God bless them right?
See, being truthful and happy requires us sometimes to stop and have that honest talk not only because we care about others or the situation, it’s also because we have respect and care for who we are, what we want and what we need.
Happy, wise conversations !
P.S. Share with someone you know who’d benefit tremendously from reading this. It means the world to me and I know it will to them. Thank you!
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