Too Much Confrontation?: (Confronting Friends, Part 2)

confronting a friendConfrontation with anyone, let alone our friends, can be difficult. One of the skills we hope to develop is how to speak up for ourselves and advocate for our needs with other people. This doesn’t only mean learning how to ask for what we want, but also learning how to confront others when we feel wronged or in some way upset by them.

When strengthening a previous area of personal weakness and developing a new skill, it is a common tendency to overcompensate. For example, if our previous difficulty was handling conflict or issues with confrontation, and we learn new skills to confront in a healthy manner, we may start confronting more often than necessary, almost as if we seek opportunities for confrontation practice.

It often takes a struggle in this area before people realize that there is such thing as too much confrontation. It’s a good thing to be able to handle conflict in a healthy manner, but it’s not healthy or necessary to confront people every time we feel frustrated.

Even when you become the master of confrontation and handling conflict, it’s important to still choose battles wisely. Part of dealing with frustrations with other people is being able to internally sort out the issues to see what’s necessary to open up between you and the other person involved.

Why not just confront every issue with our new confrontation skills? Isn’t it important to communicate and not hold things inside?

It is important to communicate well, but it’s equally important to know when the interpersonal confrontation needs, or doesn’t need, to happen. Part of being a good communicator is also understanding when it’s not necessary to confront and let something go. 

Remember, when we are annoyed or frustrated by something and we choose to raise the issue, we’re not opening the conversation only to say we are frustrated, we’re also looking for our friends to respond by adjusting their actions to accommodate this in the future. Each time we raise an issue, it’s asking for an accommodation to be made. If this is overdone, it could put stress on the relationship, including putting the other person in the position of closing off to us and becoming more cautious around us rather than open.

When there is an issue that one could confront, it is good to first understand the issue internally, and then decide if this is an issue that’s worthy of addressing, or letting go. Letting something go doesn’t mean that we should leave issues unresolved. On the contrary, it means that we choose to actually let it go, without further need to confront. It’s those issues that we process internally that we are still are unable to resolve within ourselves that may need confrontation — the issues where we can’t let go. However, if we find we’re having trouble letting go of issues on a regular basis, it’s possible that some outside help could be useful to understand our own internal process.

In every relationship or friendship, there comes a point when a person needs to make a decision to accept a person for his or her limitations, or decide to remove themselves from that person, if they are triggering constant emotional distress. Even if our every emotional need isn’t met in our relationships, using our confrontation skills in a healthy manner helps us to balance our relationships to where our primary needs are being met.

Confrontation photo available from Shutterstock

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