Confrontation is that moment when you approach someone boldly and let them know how they have been making you feel. Most of the time, confrontation comes with anger.
To confront, or not to confront…?
I blame TV and movies for creating the false premise that confrontations will solve all your problems. If someone is treating you poorly, become fearless and angry enough to corner them, and suddenly they will have an awakening and change their ways. That’s how most stories end. The person who gets confronted may need some time to process everything, but soon enough, they come back a changed person.
That is really not how real life works. By confronting someone, you cause them to feel defensive. In turn, they will most likely end up denying and repulsing you and your emotions, even more-so than they have been previously doing.
You know those moments when you (or maybe a friend, or anyone else) is going on and on about how frustrated they are feeling with someone — and then they say — “that’s it! I’m going to confront them!” Or maybe someone turns to another for advice — “what should I do about this person who is treating me unfairly?” And they say, “you should confront them!”
But understanding the reality of confrontation, is it really worth it…?
In my opinion — yes and no.
First, I think you should examine the expectations of your confrontation.
When you move past the illusions from TV and movies about confrontations, you are left feeling crazy and delusional. You cannot just “fix” a person or behavior — most especially from one single conversation.
What’s going to happen, is that your delusions are only going to become more amplified. In defense, the defender is going to come back at you with every reason they should not be punished or held accountable for their own behavior.
And then… reality sinks in… Oh… my projection of you is actually not your fault after all... You are not responsible for making me feel this way…
And it’s true. We are ultimately responsible for our own reactions, emotions, feelings, and perception of how we project people’s behavior. Is it truly your fault for treating me poorly? Or is it actually my own fault for setting you up for unrealistic standards?
But I say, ultimately, the truth is somewhat balanced. It is never 100% the confronter’s fault, or 100% the defender’s fault. While the defender should be aware of how their behavior impacts others, it is also nobody’s job to make everyone happy — it’s impossible. When the defender treats someone poorly, it’s not necessarily a personal attack against the confronter — rather, it’s a direct reflection of the defender’s personal issues that they have with themselves.
That’s why I say that confrontation IS necessary sometimes, when your expectations are in the right place.
If your expectation is NOT to fix the person or situation — rather, to COMMUNICATE your feelings and leave it at that — I say go for it.
It’s always best to approach important conversations in a calm matter, but sometimes you can’t help but let out all that steam you’ve been holding in while you pretended you didn’t care. I think it’s okay to let a little bit of anger out — as long as you can let it go.
So, the confronter corners the defender with all of the angry and frustrated emotions they have been keeping locked inside. Naturally, in turn, the defender rejects and pushes these emotions away, in order to protect themselves from getting hurt by the confronter. And now, the confronter ends up getting hurt because the anger/frustration they have spewed towards the confronter has bounced back at them.
Now there are two ways to go from here — 1, you can keep going back and forth — the confronter continues to prosecute, while the defender continues to gaslight, and the pain keeps bouncing back and forth until it becomes so out of control that both parties are hurt. Or — 2, the confronter has already said everything they needed to say, they swallow the pain that the defender bounced back at them (in all fairness, the confronter deserves this pain bounced back at them because they started it), and then the confronter walks away and lets it go.
This is what the confronter needs to accept:
- This is going to be painful for both parties — but ultimately the confronter will end up the most hurt, because they ignited this fire, and the defender is simply protecting themselves and never consented to a fight.
- This is not about CHANGING behavior instantly — this is about COMMUNICATION and EXPRESSION, which may or may not lead to change in the long run.
- The defender should be aware of how their actions affect others — but realize that while from your side of the story they may look like the villain, from THEIR side of the story that YOU may look like the villain. Let go of stubbornness and one-sidedness.
- ONE & DONE — You’ve told them how you feel, now let it go. If they want to change, they will — if they don’t want to, they won’t. You made your point clear, but now this is out of your control, so let it go. Do not continue confronting someone over and over about the same exact thing.
So yes, if someone is driving you crazy, I think you have every right to confront them with pent up emotions. But your expectations should be “expression/communication” — not “change/manipulation.” If you never let this person know how you made them feel, then they will never learn and grow from their negative actions. At the same time though, you cannot manipulate people with your anger.
Oh yeah, last thing, confrontations should always be done IN PERSON!!! Not online!!!