THE ART OF CONFRONTATION
Last Monday, 16 young ladies from my church came over for a pool party + sleepover. After snacking on junk food, we jumped into the pool and immediately began playing games and before we knew it, we dove (pun intended!) into the girl talk. Soon the hard questions began. The big quandry that stood out the most was: How does one navigate confrontation? I laughed not because I found the inquiry funny, but rather because this was an age old issue I myself had struggled and only recently, have I been able to uncover the secrets to gracefully handle the art of confrontation. As I began to peel back my own understanding on the topic, the other women began sharing their own wisdom and personal experiences, making for a robust and much-needed discussion that went on well into the evening (accompanied by facial masks and cheesy pizza, of course!).
After having a week to really ruminate on our discussion, I felt strongly that I should share the happenings of my personal revelation concerning conflict. If you are reading this and have struggled with this sticky situation (everyone should be nodding YES!!)… fear not! The solution is actually much bigger than the problem itself, and I am confident that if you apply these 2 simple steps (YES,only 2!!), you will find yourself mastering the art of confrontation.
1) Earn the right to confront
Have you ever been in a situation wherein someone confronted you and it seemed unfair because they barely knew you? Did you feel offended because how dare they attack you when they have no idea what your heart or intention was behind the action? I have learned over the years that before one challenges another, he or she must have earned that right. Think of a bowl that exists between every relationship with stones representing trust. Whenever one person pours time, love, or encouragement into the other person’s bowl, it’s like adding a “trust” stone inside; in a healthy relationship, that bowl of stones should eventually grow over time. When it is time to confront, it is the equivalent of taking a stone out of the bowl. If you have not sown enough trust into a person’s bowl, the one being confronted may feel offended or depleted. Rather, if you have genuinely built an authentic relationship over time with that person, when it is time to confront, the person is able to trust your feedback because you have earned their confidence. You must earn the right to confront.
2) Make a confrontation sandwich
Would you believe if I told you all your fears of rocking the boat in a confrontation could be solved in a simple sandwich?? The recipe goes like this: Empower, Confront, Encourage. First, you must build up the other person so that when it is time to give the tough love, you don’t end up tearing them down. Begin the difficult conversation on a positive note; specifically noting a relevant and admirable character trait in the other person. This will set you up in their minds as an advocate and not an adversary. Next is the opportune time to bring up the hot topic. You have set the stage for harmony, and now is the perfect time to proceed with love and caution, reinforcing to the other person that their best interest is your best interest. Finally, seal off the interaction with genuine encouragement. Speaking life into someone is like a superpower; it can have the potency to literally make a person awaken to their strengths and believe in themselves again. When you sandwich confrontation with empowerment and encouragement, the other person will walk away feeling cared for rather than attacked. And best of all, you will have played a significant role in instilling worth in another human being; a priceless and always worthy endeavour.
Remember: Before approaching someone with a hard conversation, ensure that you have done your best effort in earning the right to confront before making them a confrontation sandwich (anyone else getting hungry? :)). Yes, it may take a bit more deliberate time and effort on your part, but imagine if the tables were turned. Wouldn’t you so deeply appreciate if someone took the careful consideration to honor and respect you, especially in regards to confrontation? Put these 2 simple and effective steps to the test and I promise you, not only will your next heart-to-heart go more smoothly, you will have also nurtured and strengthened your relationship. Bonus: You will be known as a person worthy of the highest trust and respect. Don’t run away from confrontation. A relationship devoid of confrontation is a relationship devoid of growth.
Are you ready to grow?
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Dedicated to every Favor Girl.