Do you ever notice yourself trying to avoid conflict or confrontation? If you’re like most people you often avoid conflict at all costs. Do you hate the tension and worry you feel when a confrontation is looming? And what about the bad feelings that linger long after a confrontation is over? It’s no wonder people try to avoid face-to-face confrontations. But what if you could change all that? In this article you’ll discover three secrets for avoiding confrontation and feeling more comfortable and confident when other people feel dissatisfied or upset.
“How can I avoid confrontation?”
First, it’s important to really understand what confrontation is. Webster’s defines it as: “a discord resulting from a clash of ideas or opinions.” Confrontation happens anytime people are opposed to each other’s opinions or goals. Confrontations don’t happen simply because people have different ideas, opinions, or goals, because there will always be others who have differing ideas and goals! Confrontation only happens when people see these as “opposing” ideas or think that these ideas “clash.”
So, Secret Number One for avoiding confrontation is: Stop trying to avoid it! Why? It’s inevitable. You can greatly reduce your tension about confrontation if you simply stop putting so much energy into worrying about confrontation happening.
Which leads us to Secret Number Two: Redefine “confrontation!” Since people will always have differing opinions, the only way to truly prevent or avoid a “confrontation” is to look at it from a different perspective.
First, you need to realize that what you’re avoiding isn’t really conflict or confrontation. What you’re avoiding is how you’ll feel if:
* You hear Judgments from others or yourself
* You’re not being able to get what’s Important to You
* You lose the Relationship
* or . . .
There are any number of other outcomes that you might fear will result from a confrontation. Continuing to see confrontation as something to be avoided keeps you in a state of fear, which stimulates your “flight or fight” reflex. That’s why you want to have no part in it.
Here’s another definition of “confrontation:” to bring face-to-face. Once you accept that some people will always have different opinions than you, then you can relax and be open to the opportunities to meet them face-to-face.
When you learn to handle confrontation creatively, instead of defending your position or attacking the other person, you can begin to explore the situation and discover a meeting of minds that is satisfying for everyone. You can start by keeping this question in mind: “When I meet someone with a different point of view, how can I handle it creatively and grow from it?”
By avoiding confrontation you are also dodging opportunities for learning, cooperation, and personal growth, because these are the benefits from truly meeting someone face-to-face. By learning to successfully explore differences you can reduce your fear about people having different opinions or their dissatisfaction.
“But, what can I do if all that occurs to me is running for the hills?”
You can begin by using those uncomfortable feelings as warning signals. As soon as you notice you are feeling tense or upset, we suggest you stop for a moment and then choose to adopt the mindset of an explorer. Two things are necessary to be an explorer: you first have to believe there is something worth discovering, and then you must be committed to discovering it.
Columbus knew that India was the source of precious spices and other valuable goods, and he believed he could find a shorter route to the Indies by ship. His belief and commitment gave him the courage to explore uncharted territory.
That’s what we mean by an exploring mindset: that you are committed to making discoveries intended to create satisfying results for everyone involved. When facing a confrontation, the belief that you can create results that are satisfying for everyone can give you the courage to explore different solutions.
“But how can I come up with a solution that is satisfying for everyone?”
Use Secret Number Three: Focus on values! The only way to achieve a solution that is satisfying for everyone is to discover what people value. But their values are often hidden by their opinions and complaints.
Just like Columbus kept his focus on the western horizon, you navigate through your conversation while keeping your focus on mutually satisfying solutions, and your commitment to explore everyone’s values.
Think of a confrontation as a treasure map, a map that can guide you across a sea of uncertainty and different opinions. Through persistence you can discover a magnificent treasure of values that were hidden just over the horizon of dissatisfaction and complaints. Discovering what everyone values can give you the clarity you need to negotiate strategies that will satisfy everyone involved.
The Truth Is…
Here’s a truth you can use as a compass to direct your course: anything people do or say is always because they value something or they are trying to meet some need. The ability to accurately identify what everyone values and needs is essential for creating satisfying outcomes.
Unfortunately, few of us were taught how to figure out what we deeply value or were encouraged to identify our needs. This takes patience and practice to learn, but once you learn these skills you’ll know it’s possible to achieve solutions that are satisfying for everyone. These skills can give you the courage to continue on your adventure and explore uncharted territory.