Look up confrontation in the dictionary. Does the definition resemble this, “a hostile or argumentative meeting or situation between opposing parties?” This description makes confrontation sound like an event to be accessorized with boxing gloves. While some confrontations may resemble this definition, I think perhaps there is more to the story.
Although I could not testify as to when or how, but at some point in my life I decided that all confrontation is bad and should be avoided at any cost. If I were being completely transparent, I am pretty sure I know the driving force behind this avoidance, but that topic shall be saved for another column.
I am quite accomplished at confrontational avoidance. If you want to have a knock down, drag out argument with me, you’ll be sorely disappointed. I’m more likely to purse my lips, widen my eyes and stare at you than to say anything. What I have discovered though is that my perspective is slightly eschewed. Confrontation can be successfully navigated without causing a scene, and it can be an avenue to usher in change.
Confrontation requires courage. If you are unhappy with a situation, but unwilling to confront it, then you are stuck living with the consequences of your inaction. We convince ourselves that by keeping silent we are being the bigger person, but I think the truth is we are being cowards.
I like to think of myself as fearless, I even have the word tattooed on my rib cage, but if I am genuinely not afraid then I would exercise the courage to speak up when I don’t like something, right? Confrontation can be handled with tact, diplomacy, and at a normal decibel.
This semester I agreed to join a leadership program as a mentor to a college student. Preparation is vital for me, so I asked a lot of questions before committing to the program. When the schedules were published, imagine my surprise to find an unexpected deviation from the plan. I was very uncomfortable with the change & had I known about it from the beginning, I would not have agreed to participate.
Three choices loomed on the horizon. I could attempt to make a graceful exit from the program. I knew this option was highly unlikely so I quickly crossed it off my list of possibilities. I could continue on and grumble miserably for the nine weeks of the semester, or I could muster the courage to confront the person in charge of the program.
A tug of war ensued but eventually Courage outmatched Cowardice and over the line I went. I scheduled a meeting, calmly shared my perspective and just like that, the obstacle was removed from my path. It really was an easy sell, the hardest part was convincing myself to take that ginormous step and confront the issue.
What hindrance is in your life that needs confronting? Perhaps you struggle with your weight. Standing in the mirror and yelling at your reflection will not make the scale move, nor will punching yourself in the face. You have to confront the unhealthy habits that caused the problem, and then change them.
Are you performing poorly in school or on the job? Lamenting about it won’t make any improvements. Confronting the root cause of issue and then working to change it is the only way to be successful.
Confrontation is not a dirty word. Its bad reputation is completely undeserved so I think we should rewrite the dictionary to read something like this, “Confrontation – exercising the courage to engage in an uncomfortable situation and then calmly introducing change.”
Give it try! After all, what do you have to lose?
Until Next Time,
Becky J Miller