Ever have a situation where you’ve been wronged, hurt or irritated? Someone did something to you that bothered you so much.
But, you felt powerless to confront them, because you “know how they always react” when you have some negative feedback for them. Or, perhaps you are so overcome with social anxiety, you feel sharing your feelings will lead to not only your relationship ending with this person, but they’ll also get everyone else turned against you, too!
You sit and you stew. Your anger ruins your whole day, week, month, or even years depending on your relationship with this person and the issue at hand.
It leads you to despair and frustration and downright resentment towards people you like and love. You feel powerless in your attempts to move forward- you can’t say anything, but you can’t not say anything either!
Well, I’m here to tell you that you are not powerless. In fact, there is something you can do about your current frustrations to not only meet your needs but also
Enter The Gentle Confrontation. The Gentle Confrontation is a technique developed by Dr. Linda Solie, author of Take Charge of Your Emotions.
Here is are steps to take to address a brewing issue, summarized directly from the book Take Charge of Your Emotions with commentary.
Action 1: Determine if you’re in the mood to a) vent your anger or b) to resolve whatever bothers you and hence improve the relationship (the chapter goes on to explain that if you’re pent up with rage, you should cool off first and practice her core exercise, the Seven Steps, so you are in a well-controlled composure to talk in a non-threatening manner).
Action 2: Make sure that both of you are in reasonably receptive moods and neither fax a pressure situation in moments. (i.e. While you may have been waiting to pounce on someone as soon as he/she got home, he/she may feel that right when he/she is walking in the door right after a long day of work is not the time they expect to be approached and thus your conversation may be halted abruptly). How do you figure this out? Action 3:
Action 3: Ask first if he or she is willing to talk about something concerning you. That way, you can schedule a time that IS optimal for them if you approached them at an inconvenient time.
Action 4: When its time to chat, minimize defensiveness by appearing non-threatening. Many things are considered in this portion: tone of voice, sounding accusing or patronizing, body language, and your overall relaxed manner.
Action 5: Acknowledge what he or she does right regarding the concern you want to address. If in your opinion he/she does nothing right regarding that matter, give credit for positive efforts on a related issue. Don’t miss this one big important piece that the author describes- if you’re reading this post, you’re probably considering a very heated topic in your own relationships. The key is to have an open mind, self-control and a shared mission to clarity.
Action 6: If you contribute to the problem you are presenting, (or you’ve done something similar to them), admit your part and vow to change. While it may seem out of control, it is a very powerful action in the process to give you control
Action 7: State precisely what bothers you. No generalizations allowed (examples Dr. Solie gives include using definitive words like “always” and “never”). Also, stay away from labels (“you’re lazy,” or “you’re insensitive,” Tip: the author emphasizes that you should slightly understate the offense, because if you exaggerate at all, he or she may write off the entire confrontation, considering your claim to be unfair or irrational (people can always remember the few times they did a good job and will have no problem reminding you!)
Action 8: If at any time he/she appears defensive, DO NOT SAY “you’re getting defensive!” Instead, invite the other person to point out anything in your style that doesn’t work for him/her. The two of you can decide together how to proceed before returning to the confrontation issue. (Say the other person says you’re sounding patronizing. You would then commit to stop using that tone of voice and invite reminders if you start to speak in that manner again). The goal is to keep his/her defenses down she he/she can hear your concern.
Action 9: Identify the behavior you would appreciate seeing replace the undesired behaviors.
Action 10: Finally, have the recipient restate both the problem and request for change. The author emphasizes to check if understanding has been made, so you can tweak any miscommunications that may have been made. And of course, hear what the recipient says whether he or she is willing to work on the issue raised.
Now… it is time to take action and relieve yourself from the stress and anguish you’ve held in for too long. Try it out on small issues first and share your fears, stories and personal experiences in the comments section below!
By: Jenn Bradley, AIT Contributor