Even if you hate conflict, or believe yourself to be terrible at confrontation, you will do yourself a lot of favours by squaring up and facing it. Here’s how.
Bottled-up rage is bad for the soul – and it’s bad for your brain, too. What’s more, resentment is wired through the part of your brain that deals with stress, so the longer you sit on it the less rational your eventual response is likely to be. Even if you hate conflict, or believe yourself to be terrible at confrontation, you will do yourself a lot of favors by squaring up and facing it.
Easier said than done, perhaps. You might be wary of making enemies, creating a bad atmosphere, or just making things worse. That’s why you’re not advised to simply leap into the conflict – rather, face up to it personally, get prepared, and then wade on in.
That means figuring out just why you’re so angry, disappointed, or offended. It can help to sit down with a pencil and paper and actually sketch it out – what the problem is, how it affects you, the outcome you want – so that you can express yourself clearly and effectively when you meet the target of your fury.
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Ask yourself what potential solutions you can offer to the issue that’s bugging you – or whether it should be the offender that needs to work it out. Most likely, a good outcome will come about from an open dialogue and collaborative ideas on how to proceed. You might want to set some measurable goals so that when you check in later, you know that your complaint has been heeded. If you don’t often argue, or you’re worried your arguments don’t add up, meet with a friend to run through it together and role-play the confrontation. That should give you a chance to get match fit and increase your confidence.
Find a time that is appropriate to meet the offender, and introduce your issue in clear, open terms. Use facts where possible to backup your arguments and, while your feelings are valid, it may be more effective to express them in context of their effect – for example, ‘I was worried when you didn’t call, which prevented me from concentrating on work’.
As much as you may want to give them the hairdryer treatment, yelling or using personal insults and accusations can be counter-productive because it puts the other person on the defensive. Be cool, say all you need to say, and then listen. Whether it’s your kid or your boss, they’re more likely to engage if they feel they are part of the conversation and their perspective is being heard.
Nobody loves conflict, but those who usually avoid it at all costs can improve the quality of their life, their mental health, and their self-worth by rising to the call when it’s needed. For a checklist on the strategies you can use to make the process successful, have a look at this new infographic from NetCredit.