It’s an inevitable fact of life that we will periodically come across unpleasant people or unpleasant situations. Maybe it’s a driver who cut you off, a kid teasing or beating up another kid, an unpleasant customer that tried to get you in trouble at work, or an unkind, judgmental family member. For the most part, it’s best to just smile and move along.
Often there’s nothing you can do or say to make the other person see the error of their ways, and it’s too much of a headache and waste of energy for you to try. Other times, it’s necessary to draw the line. Standing up to someone who is consistently nasty or rude can do wonderful things for your self-respect and confidence. It also lets the person who is the target of such hatefulness (if it isn’t you) know that they are not alone.
Confrontation is not something that comes easily for everyone, but sometimes it’s necessary. Here are some ways you can approach those uncomfortable situations and keep your head held high.
1. Stick to basics.
People get defensive when you confront them, and you have to be prepared for that. It’s totally understandable; we don’t like it when we feel like we are being attacked and as a result, we lash out. We say anything to get the focus off what we’ve done wrong, and that’s when you have to keep your conversation on point. Keeping the conversation on track will ensure that it doesn’t devolve into yet another argument or dispute that you’ll have to deal with later.
2. Be willing to listen.
You’ve heard it takes two to tango? The same idea applies here. If you’re going to put someone in their place, you should anticipate that person having a response. A productive conversation involves both listening and responding, but when we are angry we tend to forget the “listening” part. Be willing to listen to what they have to say, if they say anything at all. You may not like it or agree with it, but since you’re asking for that courtesy it’s only fair to return it.
3. No name-calling.
Don’t get ugly during the confrontation. It’s a lot easier said than done, but if you can keep your cool and the other person is freaking out, you remain in control of the situation. If you’re in control of the situation, you have a better chance of directing the outcome in a positive manner.
4. Do it when you’re not angry.
In the heat of the moment is when problems arise. It’s when we say things we don’t mean, or say thing just to hurt someone. If you give yourself time to cool off, a lot of tension will automatically be removed from the equation. When you’re calm, you’ll be less likely to give into someone else’s anger and let the conversation turn into an argument.
5. Write it down.
Writing down what you want to say is good for a number of reasons. Writing in itself is a very cathartic process; once you write down everything you’re feeling, you may find that you don’t need to proceed with this confrontation and you can let it go. If not, writing gives you a chance to make sure you say everything you want to. Writing it down also allows you to edit yourself, making sure you stick to the point and not getting too catty.
6. Prepare for the worst, but hope for the best.
As stated earlier, people generally don’t like being called on their bad behavior. They don’t like someone showing them they were wrong for their actions, and in turn will find any way to point the finger at someone or something else. Unfortunately, there’s not much you can do other than accept this as a possible end to your encounter. You can only control your actions and responses, no one else’s.