The word “confrontation,” makes some of you very uncomfortable. You believe that confrontation is a recipe for disaster but in reality, the opposite is true. Sharing your concerns with your friends can actually improve your relationships.
You grew up watching unproductive arguments between family members and in the media. You observed pointless nagging or explosions of tears; petulant tantrums or vicious contempt. No wonder you’re afraid of talking to your friends about how you feel.
Still, it doesn’t help to avoid dealing with the things that bother you in your relationships. When you hold back your feelings, your feelings transform into resentment and then into anger. Eventually, the anger leads to nasty remarks or passive-aggressive behaviors. Your intention was to prevent conflict, but suppressing your needs and feelings tends to back-fire on you.
Another result of avoiding confrontation is that you become emotionally disconnected from your friends. Not sharing your true feelings causes your relationships to stagnate or to break apart. Obviously, the idea is to learn how to communicate effectively, but this is not always easy: It’s one thing to tell your friends how much you care and how happy you are in the relationship; it’s another to express dissatisfaction or worse yet, anger.
You fear rejection, believing that if you’re not “nice” or “pleasing,” your friend will abandon you. You forget that a real friend won’t disappear at the first sign of difficulty; especially if you express yourself in a respectful manner.
If you were frustrated as a child in your attempts to express your needs to the grown-ups in your life, you will grow to expect this in your adult relationships.
In fact, talking to your friends about the things they’ve done to upset you is one of the best ways for you to discover who you really are. If your friends are compassionate and responsive to what you tell them and are willing to change the problematic behaviors, it’s proof that they truly care about you.
So, a few pointers on how to go about the scary business of confrontation: Let your friend know how much you value the relationship, and that this is why you’re sharing your concerns.
Avoid saying words like, “You always…” or “You never…” Likewise. Remember, confrontation is supposed to resolve a problem; not to create another one.
Choose an appropriate time and place where you can have a meaningful conversation without any distractions, and where your friend isn’t likely to get embarrassed. Then, be quiet and pay attention to your friend’s reaction. How they respond will provide you with invaluable information.
Confrontation is initially a daunting proposition. After a few successful attempts at talking to your friends about your needs and feelings, it will become second nature. Your friends will know where you stand, and you’ll be in the privileged position of knowing who your true friends really are.