One of the reasons I wanted to write about how to confront someone is because I need a lot of help in that area. I’m the worst at confrontation and will do almost anything to avoid it. As far as any inter-personal conflict goes, I tend to not stick up for myself and swallow my feelings. I have such an aversion for confrontation, that I’ve damaged relationships and chipped away at my own self-esteem. I held grudges rather than coming right out and saying how I felt. As I grew older, I wondered how I could be an emotionally-healthy person if I couldn’t express my negative feelings to other people.
Confrontation isn’t easy for most people, but it’s something that must be done. So knowing how to confront someone compassionately is ever-important. If you don’t confront a problem, it will only get worse and express itself in a terribly somewhere down the line. If it bothers you now, it may bury itself, but it will continue to live in your psyche. The truth is that there are times when it’s in your best interest to confront someone and get it off your chest. The more you think about the problem without acting, the more toxic it becomes.
However, you don’t want to confront someone in such a way that you hurt them. You want to strike a balance between being assertive and getting your message across without becoming too aggressive. Is it possible to be confrontational and still be kind?
How to Confront Someone With 13 Expert Tips
Take a moment to sit with your feelings:
When confronting someone you want to be as clear as you can about what you’re feeling and why. You don’t want to start out at 100% percent on the emotional scale because that will only make things escalate even faster. Clarity is a crucial tip for how to confront someone. Because, when you know exactly where you’re coming from, you’ll be starting from a place of strength and clarity.
Know your intentions:
Knowing how to confront someone appropriately is crucial. Now you know what you’re feeling and what motivated it, it’s time to think about what you wish to get out of the confrontation. Will it be enough for you to just to get it said or would you like for there to be some changes made? If you are clear on the potential outcome that you’d like, you’ll be better able to get it across to the other person.
Know that some people will not get on board:
Understanding how to confront someone doesn’t mean it’ll be successful. “Some people are unable to take any responsibility for their own behavior and instead prefer to blame others,” says Rachel Wall, MA.
“For example, they may point out that they have been treated poorly or [have been] very tired recently. Realize that sometimes there may not be anything you and do to resolve a situation.” If you get the sense that the person you wish to confront will not be willing to talk to you, then it’s probably best to just move on.
Think about the other person’s conversational-style:
Speaking the other person’s “language” is an important tip for how to confront someone. Since you’ve decided to have this conversation, think about how to adapt to the way they speak. If they’re a straight-to-the-point person then you be one too, or perhaps they’d react better if you eased into a more volatile subject matter. By adapting your conversational strategy to match their style, your subject matter may be better received.
Make it as non-confrontational as you can:
Although there are some people who seem to thrive on confrontation, for most of us, engaging in that kind of interaction can be challenging at best. If the person you’re confronting gets upset, it could affect the way that they deal with you in the future. Stacy Caprio, Growth Expert, has a suggestion. “One way to do this [making it non-confrontation as possible] is by talking to them normally, how you would in a regular day at a regular time and slip your confrontation in as a genuine question or something you are able to follow or proceed with a compliment of some sort. This will help it be more natural and likely received in a more positive light.”
Don’t go for a surprise attack:
If you’re confused about how to confront someone, make sure that the person is open to have this conversation and let them state that they’re willing to discuss it. Jami Kirkbride, of Parenting with Personality, suggests starting the conversation with ‘I’ve been thinking about something I would like to discuss with you, would you be willing?’ or any variation of that. If you want to keep it simple, you can ask, ‘Is this a good time to talk?’ “This tends to reduce defensiveness right from the start,” says Jami Kirkbride. “It also mentally implies that they are opening the door to your thoughts or feelings.”
Use “I feel” and “I understand” statements:
Instead of being accusatory and putting the person on edge, express how you feel without blame. This is integral to understanding how to confront someone effectively. You’re standing up for yourself and at the same time guiding the conversation in a more positive direction. When you say “I understand” after they have spoken you’re letting them know that you are trying to see things from their point of view. Jami Kirkbride says, “When we say we understand, we are not saying we agree, but that we are taking the time to see things from their perspective and [we] appreciate how it might feel to them.”
Don’t wait too long:
If you wait until the exact right time, you could lose your nerve or give yourself an excuse to back out as there’s rarely a perfect time for a confrontation. As we know the longer you wait the harder it becomes to have that conversation and it may make getting your point across in an unemotional way almost impossible.
Let them know that you value the relationship the two of you have:
You want the person that you’re confronting to know that you care about them and that’s why you feel not only compelled to speak up but safe to do so. “This shows that you are coming from a place of wanting to make peace, rather than putting them on the defensive, “says Rachel Wall.
Listen to what they have to say and allow them to vent:
A healthy confrontation isn’t you dumping all your grievances on someone and then not allowing them a chance to have their say. It’s a dialogue, not a monologue, and you want to treat them the way that you’d want to be treated with respect for both them and their words.
Don’t take their reaction personally:
Confrontations can get heated and sometimes people say things they don’t mean, or they say things they would never say under normal circumstances. You don’t know what’s going on in their life and you’re not responsible for anyone’s behavior but your own.
Trust your gut:
When exploring how to confront someone, listen to your feelings. If it feels okay, then ask the other person how they see the situation and if they have any ideas on how to solve the problem/issue. Including them on the problem-solving will help them to feel valued, heard, and a participant, rather than the perpetrator.
Work toward a solution:
Ultimately, you want the outcome of your confrontation to be an agreement, understanding, or compromise, but that doesn’t always happen. If there’s no solution to be found, at least you expressed your grievances in a healthy and adult way.
There are times when it’s important to speak your mind and get things out in the open. When you know how to confront someone compassionately, you understand that confrontation doesn’t have to be painful. It can be a healthy way of communicating your feelings of resentment and hurt to other people.
I’m getting better with confrontation. It’s not that I seek it out, but I also try not to hide from it anymore. It’s helped me to get rid of a lot of negativity in my life and I’ve learned that it’s so much better to deal with something right away rather than letting it get worse, even if it makes me feel uncomfortable.