Confrontation has never been a strong suit of mine. In fact, for the vast majority of my life I often went out of my way to completely avoid it.
While in the moment this may feel like the easier thing to do, it often leads to one of two unwanted outcomes: (1) the suppression of true feelings, (2) gradually becoming less of yourself and more of what you believe others wish you to be.
It wasn't until a couple of years ago that I realized just how unhealthy my fear of confrontation was for my well-being. As part of this discovery, I identified that so much of what I feared about confrontation was not the words being said or actions being done, but instead my reaction to them.
As the infamous saying goes, cooler heads do prevail; it's just a matter of giving ourselves a chance to get to that calmer state before fully responding.
Here are 6 responses that I've found to be particularly effective in the moment of confrontation that allow you to not only quiet the other parties involved, but also give you the time you need to process and properly address the issue.
(NOTE: Of course there are always exceptions and extreme situations where responses of this nature are inappropriate. Always use your own discretion as to when and when not to reply using any of these techniques.)
1. Thank You
To many of our egos this is likely the last thing we would ever want to say, but I personally believe that's what makes it so powerful. By simply saying thank you, you not only communicate your appreciation for the other person's perspective, but you also tell your ego mind that you are going to look at the bigger picture before reacting.
Even if the other person is being completely irrational or rude, they are still offering you an opportunity to become stronger within yourself. You could even be thanking them for helping you realize they are someone you no longer want to be a part of your life.
2. Just Listening
One of the biggest challenges associated with confrontation is that it often involves two emotional heads both doing plenty of talking and not enough listening.
Quite possibly the most powerful technique I've come across is to actually just listen to what is being said without outwardly reacting. Doing this not only allows the other person to feel like they are fully voicing their side of the situation, but also tends to make them reflect on it as well.
By not having your voice combat theirs, they are forced to focus on their own words, often identifying (usually down the road) how irrational they were being.
3. Let's Talk About This Tomorrow
While some may think that more time will only give the other person's mind the opportunity to brew an even nastier batch of verbal venom, it's actually quite remarkable what a little sleep can do.
One of the great things about sleep is that it forces you to come to a completely relaxed state. Even if the experience feels just as emotionally fresh in the morning, you still did get to a point where you both relaxed and let your subconscious mind do a little processing.
What's more, most people can appreciate the logic behind taking some time to cool off, regroup, and tackle things once the heat of the moment has passed.
4. You're Right
It may be hard to find, but no matter what, the person that is currently being rude or is upset is always right about at least one thing. Being willing to not only identify that but to also give credit to it can go a long way toward reaching a peaceful resolution.
For example, we're likely not actually being a selfish son of a b**ch, but our actions may suggest that we need to look at the true motives behind what we do.
Telling the person that they are right and that you are going to think about what they have shared can end a nasty conversation pretty quickly. And usually the only part of you that isn't cool with that is the aforementioned ego mind, which will always get over it soon enough.
5. Let's Ask Someone Else
While very few people like to be thrust in the middle of a confrontation, having an unbiased moderator can do wonders in helping reach a peaceful conclusion. The less the person knows about either of you the better, since they will have no vested interest in supporting one side over the other.
Of the six items in this list, this is undoubtedly the most difficult to arrange, but when it is available be sure to exercise that option.
6. Forget the Past; Let's Focus on What's Happening Right Now
Something that can easily make conflict a lot more challenging is choosing to connect it to circumstances of the past. As much as those previous experiences may relate, they very rarely have any bearing on what is happening right now.
A friendly reminder that you both need to focus on the issue currently at hand rather than punishing for past transgressions can save a lot of time in an argument or fight.