It’s always awkward and uncomfortable when you have to talk to a friend, colleague or partner about an issue. What if it didn’t have to be that way? Confrontation doesn’t have to be scary or leave you feeling worried and nauseous. It’s natural to dread bringing up a problem and to ultimately put it off—but that doesn’t mean it’s healthy. Whether you’re the one giving the talk or reviving it, here are some helpful ways you can handle confrontation through communication.
PLAN WHAT YOU WANT TO SAY
Take some time to think about how you want to approach the situation and what points you want to get across effectively. During the moment, it can be easy to get caught up in emotions, so thinking about your words beforehand will help keep you on track. Make a mental list or write it down. A good way to stay calm and on track can be to also write down what you wish the outcome to be.
This goes both ways. It’s important to make the person you are talking to feel validated, but this also means that you have the right to feel the same! Making the other person and yourself feel validated is one of the main aspects of a productive conversation. If you or the person you’re confronting feels denied of their emotions, it puts a lot of strain on the relationship and can possibly be irreversible.
This one is obvious but often overlooked. If you aren’t listening to the friend or colleague you’re approaching, then you’re fighting a losing battle here. In the same way you’ve prepared what you have to say, also take the time to prepare how to listen. Learning how to listen doesn’t happen overnight—it takes a lot of practice. It’s difficult to turn off your mind for a few minutes to listen without judgment, projecting and having the impulse to rebut. However, sometimes this is all you have to do to resolve an issue. Handling confrontation through communication can be more about making someone feel heard.
Put your phone away and be in a private area where you’re both free of distractions. Focus on the issue and remember the value of the relationship. When you’re focused on the relationship—be it a friend, neighbor, family member or co-worker—that can give you a little boost in staying solution-focused rather than coming off as passive-aggressive. Paying attention to feelings and body language will only strengthen your communication skills.
Want to practice your communication skills? Enlist one of your vinas on the Hey! VINA app over a glass of wine to let the conversation flow.