confrontation

Careful, Courageous Confrontation

Nathan Smith Leadership, Life Skills

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‘Something has got to happen. I can’t keep doing this.’  Have you ever said this before?  We all have.  Whether it’s a conflict at work or a conversation that needs to be had with a relative, all of us have found ourselves at a point of decision.  Unfortunately, all too often that is where it ends.  We vent, share our side of the situation with a third party and then dive back into the status quo.  Why do we do this?  Often it is because we lack the courage to take action or are afraid of what consequences would result if we did.  The problem is each time we reach that place of decision and do nothing it creates a breeding ground for anxiety to grow in our hearts and minds.  The more the anxiety grows, the more aware we are that something has to change and then the cycle starts over.  My heart’s beating fast just thinking about it!  So what do we do?

Few people like confrontation.  And the people that do like confrontation, few people like!  However, confrontation is part of life and while we may not like it, the fruit of non-confrontation is often more difficult to deal with than actually addressing the issue.  Some of the problem is what we believe about confrontation.  When most people hear the word it carries a negative connotation and creates a feeling of awkwardness and insecurity.  We think this way because we are often focused on ourselves in the scenario instead of the severity of the situation or the potential benefit to the other person. Let me give you an example.  If you came across a person distracted by their smartphone who was about to walk into oncoming traffic would you confront that person?  Chances are that you would.  Why?  You would be more concerned about the well-being of the person you were confronting than what they may or may not think about you.  Taking the focus off of yourself makes it easier for you to push past the potential awkwardness. It allows us to focus on the importance of the situation and the potential benefit for the other person involved.  It may be awkward for someone to let you know your zipper is down on your pants, but aren’t you grateful they didn’t let you walk around like that all day?!  When we are willing to carefully and courageously confront someone we do them that same favor whether they realize it in the moment or not. (Click Here To Read My Post ‘Relationships Are Worth Restoring’)

You Looking At Me?

When there is an attitude that needs to be addressed or a money problem that has to be discussed, consider the severity of the situation and how much more clear the air would be for everyone if things were worked out.  Yes, you stand to gain a lot from the issue being dealt with but the more you treat that as a secondary issue, the easier it will be for you to be objective, compassionate and able to move forward.  Of course, there are certainly circumstances where the situation is much more complex and may require a different approach but in many circumstances, this simple adjustment in mindset would help tremendously.  Too often, the fear of confrontation actually causes more stress than dealing with the original issue ever would have.  When we allow frustrations to build, our issue grows bigger and bigger.  We start becoming skeptical of more things which leads to more frustration.  We start spewing our opinions more freely planting seeds of doubt and skepticism in others’ minds.  What started as a lit match escalates into a all-out forrest fire. (Click Here To Read My Post ‘Vain Imaginations: What Do You Mean?’)

In many circumstances, action cures anxiety.  What if you are one question away from sleeping better at night?  What if you are one difficult conversation away from peace in your workplace?  We will always face challenges that we have no control over.  So when we have the luxury of being able to address a situation that is causing us stress we need to take advantage of that opportunity.  Here are a few things to remember when you finally do take action…

3 Keys to Consider In A Confrontation

  1. Do It Sooner Than Later

Delay often deepens despair.  Don’t be overly zealous and do something hastily before you truly understand the situation.  But don’t think about needing to do something for a year and still be talking about it, having done nothing, a year later.

  1. Do It Face To Face

The word confront comes from the same latin root word for ‘forehead’ and could even be translated ‘with the face.’  NEVER text or email in a situation like this.  Face to face is the only way to do this well.  When that is simply an impossibility, video or phone call are the only other options.  The human face and voice communicate as much or more than words.

  1. Do It Expecting To Learn Something

Humility goes a long way in sensitive situations.  Don’t assume you know everything about the circumstance that’s frustrating you.  Be prepared to learn something you didn’t know and you’ll stand a better chance of having your concerns received in a better light.

Confrontation takes courage and must be done with great care.  It doesn’t have to be a scary, stress bomb of a meeting but it is seldom a cakewalk.  You can make it infinitely easier by taking some time to pray before you make a move, consider these suggestions and then take action.  But you MUST take action. The longer you put it off, the longer you are being a part of the problem by allowing the tension in the relationship or circumstance to perpetuate.  If things are already uncomfortable, then let them be uncomfortable because you are trying to take steps towards clarity and unity instead of allowing them to be uncomfortable due to inaction, fear or pride.  Breakthrough may be closer than you think.  You won’t know until you take a step. (Click Here To Read My Post ‘No Breakthrough Without A Breaking’)

From the Bible

“Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother or sister has something against you, 24 leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to them; then come and offer your gift. – Matthew 5:23-24 NIV

“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” – Joshua 1:9 NIV 

“If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother.” – Matthew 18:15 ESV

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