Confrontation takes many forms and occurs in a variety of situations. For example: If you play competitive sports, you confront the opposing team. If there’s someone standing behind you and you turn to face them, that’s a simple physical act of confrontation. If you have a problem with someone or something, you’re encouraged to confront the problem. Some choose to do that with words. Some choose to do that with violence. If you’re having an argument with your significant other where they think they’re right but you know that you’re right and you have evidence that proves them wrong, you confront them with the evidence. In this day and age, expressing a thought or opinion or simply asking someone a question can be seen as confrontational.
Some of these situations are voluntary and enjoyed by many. For instance, if you’re a competitive person, confronting the opposite team in a game of basketball might give you an enjoyable adrenaline rush and fill you with energy.
Some people choose a career of confrontation when they join the military, the police force, or politics. Even psychiatry, psychology and therapy can be seen as careers that help other people confront problems with their mental and physical health.
Then there are those of us who try to stay as far away from confrontation as we can.
We have a problem, but are we going to confront it? No. We would rather let it fester and eat us alive. Someone is doing something that bothers us. Are we going to talk to them? Nope. We’re just going to glare at them when they’re not looking and hope that our thoughts transfer over to them via osmosis. We don’t like bacon. Are we going to say that out loud? Not a chance. People would probably banish us from the breakfast table.
I must admit, I was one of these people for a long time. I was afraid to talk to people about issues I was having because I didn’t want to make them angry or uncomfortable. I considered my problems a burden, not on me, but on everyone else. For a long time I lived in a world of quiet denial – everything was fine, I didn’t have any problems, and I certainly didn’t have opinions.
In my head, confrontation would always be met with hostility. The outcome would always be bad.
It took a number of years, but I eventually realized that I could address problems, have intense conversations, and ask questions without the world ending. In a sense, I confronted myself about my own problem with confrontation, and I came out with a new understanding of what confrontation can be. It’s all in the approach.
Confrontation can be as simple as starting a conversation. If someone has done something that is affecting you negatively, it’s simple to pull them aside, politely explain how and why you are being affected, and ask them to be aware of that the next time they’re doing that particular thing. They might not react how you want them to, they might ignore you altogether, but at least you’ve opened a door to further conversation.
A disagreement with someone on a certain topic, like religion or politics, doesn’t have to end in name calling. It doesn’t have to end a potential friendship. A simple, “Why do you think that?” can lead to some fruitful conversation, and help you to understand who they are on a much deeper level.
Of course, there are some instances where confrontation will be hostile. If you catch someone stealing your wallet, you’re probably not going to want to calmly pull them aside and explain how it’s affecting you negatively. But in general, wouldn’t it be better if we confronted people with curiosity and empathy, instead of hostility and hate?
How do you deal with confrontation? Let us know in the comments!