How to Have a Confrontation That Isn't Messy

Most of us aren't real big fans of confrontation.

I mean, who likes to call out our friends, teachers or even strangers and tell them exactly why and how they've wronged us?

Truth is, most of the resistance we feel towards confronting someone stems from our lack of assertiveness. Growing up, we're taught that it's rude to put yourself before others so how are we expected to be pros at it now?

If you need help holding a successful convo when confronting someone, whether you need to be more assertive or less demanding, scroll below for our tips on how to keep things casual:

1. Refrain From Public Demonstrations

The person you're confronting is roughly 100% likely to clam up and go on the defense if you're accosting them in public. In order to have a smooth convo, you need to be in a private and preferably neutral location. The worst way to begin a serious conversation is by making your friend (or whoever) uncomfortable.

Lotso and Buzz surrounded by toys

(Toy Story 3 via Walt Disney Pictures)

 

2. Do Not Hold an Intervention

If many of your friends want to confront a single person, it may seem simplest to hold a type of intervention. But along with No. 1, this method of confrontation puts the other person on the defense. You want the other person to feel comfortable rather than attacked, and an intervention-style convo is guaranteed to do the opposite of what's intended.

On that note, you also don't want to start drama by mentioning that all of your friends agree with you. Your friend will feel left out, attacked and like she has nowhere to turn to for support.

 

3. Use "I" Statements

If I'm beginning to sound like a shrink, good. You always want to use "I" statements when addressing someone about your concerns. This helps to keep the problem on your end rather than rattling off a list of things the other person has done wrong.

For example, if your friend has just blown you off for the third time to hang with her S.O., you could say, "I feel unimportant to you when you cancel on our plans." A more aggressive and less successful form of this statement might be, "You keep blowing me off for your boyfriend."

The person you're confronting is way more likely to listen to your side of the story if you frame your argument in "I" statements and focus on your feelings.

Woodie laughing at Buzz

(Toy Story via Walt Disney Pictures)

 

4. Stop Saying "It's Okay"

To forgive is divine, yada yada, but exercise your forgiveness cautiously. If you throw out a bunch of "it's okays" and "no worries" directly after confronting someone about an issue, you devalue your feelings by making the person think that their behavior truly was okay. Back peddling on your stance simply for the sake of comfort is not going to right a wrong. Plus, you'll just have to end up having this same convo over and over again until the person realizes that it was not, in fact, okay.

 

5. Say Goodbye to Sorry

Are you an abuser of the word sorry? Have you said it so many times that the word has lost all meaning? Same. But you want to try and keep this needless apology out of your conversation. By overusing the word (especially when you haven't done anything wrong except dare to exist), you turn the blame around and it begins to sound like you should be apologizing to the other person. This word also does nothing to help your assertive side and you are more likely to let them off the hook with an "It's okay" in the end.

 

6. Let Them Speak Their Mind

While you are in control of this convo, it still helps to allow the other person to speak. Let them get their side of the story out—even if it nearly kills you. You may just discover that your issue was a miscommunication or another resolvable factor.

By no means do you want to talk over this person while they explain themselves or lose your cool when you respond. Keeping calm will definitely help this conversation carry on in the smoothest way possible.

 

7. Speak With Confidence

It can be hard to rep your confident side, especially if that side is lacking. But addressing a person with your head held high and your voice unwavering is the best way to convince them to listen. Your arguments will sound more credible and your tone will keep the convo neutral.

 

8. Rehearse Your Speech

If you fear you may fall back on apologies, chicken out entirely or be way too aggressive, it helps to write down your thoughts. Paragraphs work just as well as bullet points when rehearsing what you want to say. I wouldn't suggest memorizing your speech by heart, but taking to the page first is a helpful way to organize your thoughts and stay on track during your conversation.

Rex doesn't like confrontations

(Toy Story via Walt Disney Pictures)

 

9. Talk Face to Face

While writing down your worries is a great form of practice, this paper should be for your eyes only. Do not, I repeat, do not simply hand this note over to the person you mean to confront.

You also want to refrain from texting your issues to the person. Having a convo face to face takes away implications that come from word and punctuation choice. If you've ever received a text written, "Hey." with a period and all, then you know exactly what I mean.

You don't want this person to read into your note or texts because that is exactly how needless drama begins.

 

If you feel like you've become a tad bit aggressive towards your besties, click HERE for tips on how to recognize if you've become a bully to your friends.