Life TherapyTM
Psychotherapy & Coaching + Mindfulness & Meditation

How Can We Become Less Confrontational?

This is a contribution by Guest Blogger Tonya Vrba.
A non-confrontational person is not the same as someone who can’t stand up for themselves. It also does not mean the person is never involved in confrontational events. Avoiding confrontation at all cost is like avoiding war. Never start it, but when it is thrust upon you, act diligently. A person who gets angry about small things and starts unnecessary aggression is not a happy person. They get involved in drama and fights that are petty in nature. Anger and aggression are not good for the person feeling it or those whom the emotions are directed at. The non-confrontational person is often not afraid to speak their mind. They simply make a point of phrasing their words is a way that will bring about the least confrontation. Here are a couple common situations where the non-confrontational person shines:

1. You live with a roommate or partner who leaves a mess everywhere.

Before saying anything, make sure you are aware of your contribution to the mess. After all, you live there too and may leave things here and there. When you speak to your roommate, be sure they understand that the mess belongs to both of you. Find specific things to suggest to your roommate.
Here is an example of bad phrasing:
“This place is a mess. How come you never help me clean it up? It’s be nice to have some friends over sometime.”
“Did you notice the trash is overflowing? Why don’t you ever take it out?”
Here is a better way to handle the situation.
“I noticed that you often leave the junk mail on the table. It piles up so fast. Do you think we could make an agreement to always throw junk mail in the trash right away?”
“We’re both so busy, the trash and dishes rarely get done. Would you be opposed to taking turns with the responsibility. We can keep track of it on the refrigerator calendar.”
In all examples, the person stood up for themselves, but in the second set of examples the person tried to understand their roommate and acknowledge that the problem belonged to both of them.
2. One of your friends is badmouthing another.
Like the above example, a non-confrontational person will make sure they fully understand the situation before they go sticking their nose in it. This is important because understanding breeds less confrontation than uninformed opinions. It is important to speak with both of your friends without choosing sides. Speak to your friend who is saying bad things and ask why. What has happened that makes him or her feel the need to say these things. Then, approach your other friend. Ask if any part of what is being said is true. Ask also if they have any idea of why these things are being said. This will give you a full picture of the situation. Remember when speaking to both friends not to choose sides until you have all the information. You don’t want to be misinformed. For the purposes of this example, let’s assume your friend is speaking lies and you want them to stop. You also want to do what you can to avoid confrontation and losing a friend.
Here is a bad example:
“Why are your spread lies about {name}. You know they’re not true.”
“{Name} says you’re a liar and are just jealous. What kind of friend are you?”
Both of these examples are confrontational. They are accusatory and show no understanding for the friend you are speaking to. These words will be especially hurtful if the person thinks they speak the truth or if they don’t think their words were hurtful. Accusing breeds confrontation.
Here is a better example:
“{Name} is really hurt by what you are saying. Don’t you think you should talk this out? You may be losing a friend.”
“Listen, you are my friend, but so is {name}. I’m hurt by the things you’re saying. Could you stop saying those things? S/He is willing to talk with you about it if you are.”
This is a trickier situation because there is little you can say that won’t bring about some confrontation. All the same, approaching the situation in a non-confrontational manner can reduce the emotional response you may get from your friend. These last two examples do not accuse the friend of lying or of being a bad friend. Instead, they express concern for both parties involved. Along with expressing the hurt being caused, these last examples provide an avenue for your friends to resolve their differences if they want.  If the problem persist, you may want to reiterate the hurt you feel and let them know you won’t be able to be friends with them if they continue.
This may also seem idealized. In truth, none of us are perfect. Sometimes our emotions take over and sometimes we don’t have time to think about a situation before acting. Whenever possible, take a moment and think about all the ways you can confront issues in your life. Ask yourself what action will yield the results you want with the least amount of confrontation. You will be more at peace knowing you did everything in your power to avoid a drama and confrontation.

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