February 2019 -
Friday, 15 Feb 2019

Rethinking Our Understanding of Confrontations

By Dr Becky Spelman
Understanding Confrontations

For most people, confrontations bring up the image of an altercation, aggression and there being a definitive winner and loser. That, of course, can be true and plays out in many couples. But it doesn’t have to be that way.

We don’t need to confront from a stance of hostility. In fact, it’s entirely possible for it to be a peaceful interaction; one of reconciliation and communication that works for both of you.

Confrontation, when placed in its broader context means facing an issue head-on. Nowhere is it written that it needs to be an uncomfortable or chastening experience for either person involved.

When we approach our issues with this mindset, what were once ‘altercations’ become an opportunity for growth and to speak your mind without the tenants of shame and blame dictating the flow of conversation.

Communication is such an underestimated tool when it comes to the art of relating to one another. It’s often assumed that because we’re constantly interacting with one another by speech then surely we must be good communicators?

This isn’t entirely true.

Talking is the medium by which we communicate, but not everything we say can always be regarded as effective communication.

When initiating a conversation, there needs to be a clear intent as to why you’re engaging the person in question. To launch into unfocused dialogues is the reason why so many of our grievances escalate into arguments. Catching people off-guard in this manner leads to defensiveness.

Before bringing up your frustration/challenge, it’s important to re-affirm that person’s value to you. This signifies what you’re about to say is for the good of you both, and not intended to hurt or condescend. You simply want to express your feelings and to be heard, so you can move forward together.

When you adopt this mindset of reconciliation and of ‘nonviolence,’ you change the whole dynamic of the encounter. And what might have previously been a source of tension, gives the oppurtunity for you both to hear and receive in equal measure.

It is important you both feel part of the conversation.

The old paradigm thought about raising an issue with someone is it could be seen as pedantic, but if we’re genuinely aggrieved by something, burying our feelings is not the answer. This only creates feelings of resentment, making closure that much harder to reach.

It is an act of avoidance.

And it can become so much a part of our narrative we’ll go to great lengths to avoid offending or risking the status quo for fear having our partner abandon us. We talk ourselves into the belief we’re jeopardising our relationship by ‘confronting’ someone over our displeasures.

The irony is, it’s only by raising our misgivings that we’re able to build strong and long-lasting connections. It’s these moments of sincerity that create trust and serve as the foundation for all successful partnerships.

By approaching others with the focus of acknowledging their value first, we communicate we don’t want to hurt them, but to grow stronger and deepen our connection.

Confrontation does not have to be an act of violence.


For help with the issues discussed in this article speak to one of our therapists here at Private Therapy Clinic for a free initial chat or to make an appointment.

  • By Dr Becky Spelman
  • General
  • Relationships
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