How to Deal with Confrontation

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Confrontations are sometimes unavoidable: neighbors play loud music, work colleagues make unreasonable demands, and people sell you things that don’t work. Sooner or later everyone must learn how to deal with someone who has wronged you in some fashion.

1. Know that you are in the right.

You must be sure of your ground. For example, if your neighbors’ son has an 18th birthday party, you need to make allowances. There may be a little noise, but that isn’t such a big deal; after all, he will only turn 18 once. However, if the noise continues until 2 a.m., and you have to be up for work, your annoyance is justified.

2. Be calm and assertive.

During a confrontation, people tend to be either passive or aggressive. Pushing, shoving, yelling, and cursing are not helpful. Far from demonstrating confidence and power, such behaviors often reveal insecurity and fear. Truly confident people have no need to shout or bully. So keep your voice clear and strong but calm and level. You could even practice this at home. Learn to project your voice by reading out loud. If you are anticipating a confrontation, rehearse what you are going to say in front of a mirror. Above all, stay calm. Calmness implies strength.

3. Watch your body language.

A frightened individual will look at the ground and hunch his shoulders; an aggressive person will try and intimidate by bumping chests, staring fiercely into the other person’s eyes, and clenching his fists. Instead, keep your shoulders back and your chin up. Be neither intimidated nor intimidating.

4. Avoid using the second person. 

In other words, do not keep saying “you.” For example, if your neighbor lets their dogs out late at night, allowing them to bark and wake you up, do not confront them with the words “you always let your dogs out after dark; they bark and wake everyone up. What do you think you are doing!?” Instead say, “I haven’t been able to sleep lately because your dogs wake me up.” If you use the word “you,” the other person will become defensive and emotional, and will stop listening to what you are saying.

5. Work on your communication skills.

Confronting someone does no good unless they fully understand your problem. Some people yell and threaten without ever explaining what is wrong. So try to explain how their actions are affecting you in a clear, simple manner.

6. Never say more than you need to.

This is crucial in any confrontation. Once you have made your position clear, add no more.

Imagine the family who live opposite you are throwing a party on a Sunday night. You have young children, and the loud music and raised voices are keeping you awake, so you decide to confront them. First, be assured you are right to do so. The noise is keeping you and your children awake, which is unreasonable. Knock on the door firmly, but not loudly. Keep your voice calm and strong, and stand with your chin up and your shoulders back. Don’t use the second person, but make the problem clear; maintain eye contact while you say firmly and clearly, “I can’t sleep and neither can my children.” You don’t need to add more. Why should you? You haven’t done anything wrong.

No matter what age you are, you will have to deal with confrontation. And you are never too old to learn how. – Allnatt

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