Why Do We Avoid Confrontation?

by Natalie Bel Hill

We are wired for pleasure. We love to have a good time and enjoy ourselves.

Naturally, we shy away from anything that makes us feel negative emotions and discomfort.

Some of us tend walk around and stick our heads in the sand or do whatever it takes to avoid feeling uncomfortable.

I know I used to, as this was the easiest road, or so I thought.

It’s actually a huge contradiction. We tend to think we are taking the easy way out, but actually we are allowing situations to simmer and build up, making it more difficult to handle as time passes.

Sometimes, situations can fester and become unmanageable, even when they started as minor things, but then were not handled effectively.

I used complain about situations and people to anyone who would listen, but never had the courage to say or do anything about it.

Facing an issue head on, especially when it meant potentially hurting someone else’s feelings, was unheard of.

I got shivers down my spine when it came time to ask for a salary increase or raise any controversial issue at work.

I actively avoided every situation possible if I thought it might make me feel anxious or simply make me look bad. The mere thought of confrontation made me sweat.

Ironically, the result was more drama in my life than I could handle. Like I mentioned before, we want to feel good.

By actively avoiding confrontation, we feel good in the moment but ignore the future.

Here is the truth: We don’t avoid confrontation. We avoid the way it makes us feel and look in the eyes of others.

People find themselves avoiding confrontation and conflict for the following reasons and probably many more:

- Fear of rejection when standing up for yourself.

- Not believing you have a valid opinion.

- Unsure of what you actually need and want.

- Having had a negative experience or two.

- Possibility of hurting someone else’s feelings.

- Lack of confidence and conviction in your values and beliefs.

But, there is a better way, I promise:

When you finally decide to pull yourself together and start speaking up for what you believe in, your fear subsides.

Suddenly, having a real and mature conversation, where both sides get to express their opinions openly, both sides listen intently and both agree on a mutually beneficial arrangement, is actually a reality.

It's the opposite of what you usually choose to avoid at any cost.

Of course, your opinions will be different from almost everyone you meet.

Just consider how different opinions are formed: parents, upbringing, culture and experiences.

How could you possibly think the same way as anyone else?

Learning how to handle conflict is to really listen, not only to the words, but also the body language. Try to understand what they are really saying.

Another point of view to consider: Conflict should not be avoided – it has a use.

The idea is to come to a resolution; that’s the whole point of a conflict and confrontation. Unresolved disagreements leave everyone feeling worse off than before.

This is dependent on your style of communication. To really resolve conflicts, you need to sit through a few awkward and tense moments.

Compromising, avoiding, withdrawing, accommodating, forcing and directing are ways of ensuring everyone loses.

Collaborating, listening and problem solving are means of making sure you are heard, you hear what everyone else has to say and you work toward a solution together.

Although this may sound more like a lesson in business than real life, implementing these ideas will change the way you deal with confrontation.

Slowly build your self-confidence; when you are able to say how you feel and the world doesn’t fall apart, you feel a little stronger.

Gain momentum by practicing your skills as often as possible. You no longer lack the backbone to say what you mean.

Feeling better and more in control of your decisions and life have a positive effect on your soul.

Before you jump in and let everyone know how you feel, take a little time to consider the following:

- WHAT do you really want to achieve? Having an argument just to prove you are right doesn't really help anyone.

- WHOM do you want to talk to?

- WHAT exactly do you want to say to them?

- HOW can you word it most simply and effectively (without hurting feelings unnecessarily)

- HAVE you considered your own feelings objectively?

- IS this a constructive conversation for the progress of the relationship?

Tony Robbins says: "The way we communicate with others and ourselves ultimately determines the quality of our lives."

Communication and being able to deal with confrontation are the keys to a happier and more balanced life.

- To handle confrontation effectively, you need to be able to admit when you have made a mistake. This requires being able to look at yourself and see where you need to improve.

- It takes bravery and courage to ask for what you want.

- Standing up for what you believe in doesn’t necessarily mean you have support. But, it is your belief, so follow through.

- You have to know that you deserve to be heard.

- Have respect for yourself. You can express your opinions respectfully.

- Look at these opportunities as a way to test your strength and resilience.

- Stand your ground and practice being strong, it’s just like the muscle in your body.

Go after what you want and never apologize for having your own unique opinion. What you believe in and stand up for is what defines you.

Don’t let the fear of confrontation and being in an awkward conversation for a few minutes hold you back.