We all know someone who can’t stand conflict. He or she is non-confrontational and avoids tension as much as possible.
You probably know some people who are drawn to conflict, too. The pilot light is always lit because they’re always looking for an opportunity to confront someone. It’s not necessarily because they dislike others, but because they thrive within challenges and seek them out.
It would be easy to pass off confrontational people as angry jerks, but there’s more to it than that.
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A Parable of Confrontation
Here’s an example:
If my friend borrows one of my books and returns it with bent corners or torn pages, I would be unhappy about it. If my friend completely ignores that he didn’t care for the book, I am likely to be frustrated. I could let that frustration simmer for a long time until I have opportunities to passive-aggressively jab my friend’s character or actions because of my unhappiness.
Rather than be covert about it and avoid the subject, why wouldn’t I simply confront my friend about the shape of the book and ask him to own up to it? Now, my friend may not have noticed the book is in tatters because he generally doesn’t notice details like that. Or he may have been too embarrassed to mention it. Confrontation allows the truth to show up.
We should be wary of assuming the people around us know what we’re thinking or feeling.
Confrontation may feel like an outburst of anger or displeasure with someone, but it’s really a healthy relationship component. Our healthiest relationships won’t avoid confrontation, but will learn how to navigate it well. (tweet that)
A Weapon Or A Tool
Yes, confrontation can be handled poorly. It matters not just that we use confrontation to face the truth about someone or something, but how. It’s a weapon or a tool depending on how we use it.
Used wisely, confrontation is not a weapon to harm but a tool to enhance a relationship.
Gentle, honest confrontation is a tool to help our relationships grow. Without honesty, the relationship will suffocate. But with authenticity, we have the chance to show each other who we really are, accept where we’re at, and hopefully move forward together.
“Unless we’re honest with each other, we can’t connect. We can’t be intimate.” – Donald Miller
Progress in our relationships happens when we learn to appreciate another person in a deeper way. That’s one of the things I wrote about in my new book, The Variable Life.
The Best Thing About Confrontation
Sometimes the best way to connect with someone is through confrontation.
Confrontation is just an opportunity for clarity. (tweet that)
Clarity offers us a refined, more accurate perspective of how things really are. It can bring a whole new understanding to the way we behave and relate, and through that, find a way to make progress. When there’s clarity, bad relationships can become good ones and good relationships can become great ones.
And who doesn’t want great relationships?
What is one way you’ve seen confrontation used as a weapon or as a tool?
- Find more in John’s new book, The Variable Life: Finding Clarity and Confidence in a World of Choices. Start reading for free at thevariablelife.com.