How to Handle a Confrontation

Before we begin, I just want to clarify that I am, by no means, an expert on confrontations.

I am speaking from two experiences when I was the confronter and the confrontee. Both experiences left me a little shaken up and feeling weird afterwards.

This happened in middle school.
Someone I was trying not to be friends with threatened to commit suicide because I didn’t want to be friends with her, so her two friends confronted me about it. After hearing the news, I was very scared. Then I felt really uncomfortable about the serious tone her two friends, who never talked to me, were using with me. I felt like I was being ganged up on. After school, I called and texted her a lot to convince her not to kill herself. Fortunately, she ended up not committing suicide. Now, I don’t talk to her nor the two people who confronted me. Some time ago, I randomly saw her working at a store I was shopping at, and that was the last time I saw any of them.

This happened in college (like, February 2020). It actually inspired this blog post.
I wasn’t happy with one of my friendships and needed to take time to figure out how to express my discomfort (which she said was me ghosting her for three weeks). Long story short, the conversation did not go as planned. Actually, it was kind of really bad; it took a wild turn. Still, I felt relieved when it was over, like a small weight was lifted. Afterwards, I learned she doesn’t handle confrontation well unless she’s the one initiating the confrontation. We haven’t talked much since, and I feel kind of bad; we still follow each other on Instagram though.

From those two experiences, I learned a few things about confrontations, whether you’re the confronter or confrontee.

HAVE OPEN, LISTENING EARS AND PAY ATTENTION. You’re both there to fix something, even if only one person is having an issue. Don’t interrupt. Don’t occasionally check your phone or start texting other people; that happened during one of my confrontations, and it was a sign that things were going to go poorly because I didn’t have her full attention. It’s important to be respectful and give the speaker your full attention. For some people (like me), it’s not easy expressing what is bothering you, especially when you care deeply for the other person. If the person speaking doesn’t have your full attention, it makes things worse.

STAY ON TOPIC AND HANDLE ONE ISSUE AT A TIME. For me, when I don’t know how to express myself and see things are going bad, I try to soften the blow by changing the topic, which is not good. I stopped doing that. Confrontations are difficult conversations people try to avoid, but at the end of the day, it’s important to have those difficult conversations for the betterment of yourself, the other person, and your relationship. Stay on topic and really focus on the issue, and if there are multiple issues, handle one issue at a time. Flipping between issues causes confusion, which draws out the conversation; I don’t know about you, but I like to get confrontations over with as soon as possible.

COME WITH ALL YOUR DUCKS IN A ROW. This kind of goes with the last tip, especially if you do have multiple issues to talk about. You do not want to be unprepared. When I was the confronter, there were more issues in the friendship I wanted to talk about but didn’t have the chance to because I was unprepared. I was not prepared for her reaction. I also could have chosen a better order to talk about the issues because I talked about the biggest one first. Talking about the minor issues would have prepared me more for how to talk about the big issue because I would be able to gauge her reactions. If it’s necessary, show up to the confrontation with a small notebook or piece of paper with all your thoughts and discussion topics written down. Don’t come with notes prepared on your phone because you could easily get distracted when a notification pops up while you’re reading your notes; it goes back to being respectful. It’s important to get all your thoughts out, even if the conversation isn’t going well.

BE OPEN BUT CALM ABOUT YOUR EMOTIONS. Don’t make a scene, especially if the discussion takes place in public (both of mine were in the school cafeterias). Again, it goes back to respect. Whether you are the confronter or the confrontee, it is important to respect what the other person is feeling. Even if you’re breaking up (breakups don’t just happen in romantic relationships) and you lose someone you genuinely care about, you can still have a civilized breakup by calmly expressing your emotions and respecting the other person’s emotions. Making a scene or saying the other person’s feelings are invalid will only make everything worse. The goal is to come out of confrontations with clear thoughts, a weight lifted off your shoulders, and an understanding where improvements could be made.

Confrontations are never fun; there is a way to come out of them without anyone getting hurt or angry, and there could even be some self growth as a result.

Good luck, and don’t be scared to have difficult conversations.

Be you. Be true. Make smart decisions.

Featured image credit: @chairulfajar_

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