Confrontation is inevitable, and how we handle it can either strengthen or weaken our relationships with the people in our lives. A real relationship cannot exist or survive without successful conflict resolution.
One thing I love about confrontation is the opportunity to see how the other person communicates and expresses themselves. Confrontation allows you to see each other in adversity, when perhaps the worse of you is revealed and how you and the other person handle the often dreaded confrontation. While the experience is typically never a positive thing, it allows you to see how you and the other person handle arguments and it allows both of you to have an idea of what to expect in disagreements down the road, because they will arise.
There is fine art to confrontation, and handling conflict, unfortunately, many of us do not possess such skills.
When confronting someone about an issue don’t attack him or her, instead focus on the issue and how it made you feel. Often times the other person in the confrontation may not have realized that their actions hurt you and if you just begin screaming at him or her, I can assure you they will want nothing more to do with you. Instead, try to wait until you two are alone so you can talk one on one – making a scene in a group or public is not forthcoming.
When faced with conflict with another person and they bring such an issue to my attention I always follow these steps:
Listen. Listen to what s/he is saying – devoting all of your attention on him/her. (No txts, No TV, your eyes and ears on them).
Empathize. Put yourself in his/her shoes. Try to understand where s/he is coming from and listen to their point of view. Many conflicts we encounter in life are because we viewed a situation in a different light than that other person.
Apologize. Apologize about what happened – and be sincere. If you value his/her friendship, or your relationship with this person, after listening to him/her, putting yourself in the same situation and understanding what they are going through, apologize for what happened and how they must be feeling.
Describe (if necessary) Describe your take of what happened. As I just alluded, often times in life each party viewed a situation or conflict in two different ways – when someone explains how s/he felt about what happened (and if that was NOT your intention to make him/her feel in that manner) then express your view of the subject matter at hand, and apologize again for not taking their feelings into account.
As a reminder, it is important to NOT attack the other person, but to attack the issue or the problem at hand. Avoid using terms of accusation (such as YOU), instead focus on telling him or her how you feel about the situation (I feel.. I think.., etc.).
Confrontation should be viewed as an opportunity to build your relationship, but if you aren’t careful you can destroy your relationship by being flippant. Open, honest communication should always be shared between you and the other party involved during every confrontation and if you both respect one another the conflict will obliviate - and your relationship will become stronger.
As a side note, if a person is flippant with me after multiple attempts of resolving a conflict and s/he makes it obvious they do not care in resolving the issue as rational adult, it may be best to move on with your life and not try to work things out with him/her.