• Janie Sterling

How to Embrace Confrontation (the Right Way!)

Confrontation. Just that word alone can strike fear into the hearts of many, but it doesn’t have to be this way! The way you think about confrontation depends on the meaning you are giving it. If confrontation means an ugly conversation where the result is that everyone is upset and hurt, then yes, that would be cause for alarm. However, if confrontation means voicing disagreement or conflict with the purpose of a resolution, then by all means, yes please! The purpose of confrontation is to fix a problem, and this crucial step in problem-solving shouldn’t be something that is feared, it should be embraced!


What Does "Confrontation" Mean?


Confrontation doesn’t always have to have a negative connotation. Think of it more as problem-solving. You can’t make things better if situations and feelings aren’t dealt with and changed. You shouldn’t fear or avoid it. Facing the issue head-on is the only way things will change and get better, which is what confrontation is. Confrontation is the action of expressing your feelings towards something with the end result of letting go of a specific emotion and ultimately turning a negative into a positive.


When and Why Confrontation Can Be Healthy


Your emotions can be a strong force. They have the power to take over your mind and body, before you even realize what's happening! When your emotional and physical connection to something becomes so overwhelming and has such a strong effect on you and your life, then you should explore the possibility of confronting the issue, and the true root of where it's coming from.


If you are in a position where you have to solve an issue then you may have to turn to confrontation. Confrontation isn’t the act of argument and fighting, but at the same time "confrontation" gets a bad rap. And it's easy to see why. After all, you don’t confront something (or someone) if you are happy or content. You usually confront a situation or person if there is an issue or a negative feeling. The right path is to try to turn the negative into a positive, and the building block for that involves confronting the issue which is okay. Sometimes you need to face the person or issue head-on if you have any hope of moving forward.


How to Get Over a Fear of Confrontation


Some people thrive on confrontation (which is not necessarily healthy... but that's a blog post for a different day!) For others - probably for most of us- confrontation can be a scary thing. But, the act of confrontation shouldn’t be feared.


The way you can overcome a fear of confrontation is the same way you can overcome a fear of pretty much anything: in your mind. Think of it this way: if you have a relationship or an issue in your life that makes you fearful and anxious, then this has likely developed and been reinforced over time by repeated behaviors. You can use your mindset to address and change these behaviors.


If you find that confrontation is something you approach with trepidation, then you need to change your mindset about what confrontation actually is. Confrontation isn’t the act of yelling and arguing. Expressing your true feelings about how you feel about a situation doesn’t have to result in anger or hurt. It’s about problem-solving and relationship building. Even the smoothest roads have some bumps in them and that’s okay. That’s what gives it character. Going over those bumps is necessary to get you to your destination. In the case of confrontation, the only way to change is to confront the issue, and you will always be okay and come out the other side of change.


Tips for Successful Confrontation Episodes


Letting a problem fester in hopes that it will just go away or resolve itself doesn’t work and could ultimately lead to a ‘blow-up’. The undesired behavior leads to negative thoughts like ‘they are doing this because they don’t care about me’ or conversely ‘they are not doing this because they don’t care about me’. This could lead to an emotional reaction that may cause an ugly situation. The way out of that is to approach the situation authentically and from a proactive state. There are things that you can do to have a successful confrontation that ends in positivity.


  • Figure out what is really bothering you by asking yourself repeatedly ‘why is this bothering me?’ until you get to the heart of what the issue really is.

  • Leave out any assumptions you may have of the other person and remain neutral in your emotions.

  • Staying calm in the conversation is key and remember to ask questions to get their side of the situation.

  • Step into a proactive mindset and give the other person the benefit of the doubt.

  • Focus on how the conversation will be a win-win for everyone and will ultimately lead to a resolution that will strengthen your relationship with that person and a positive outcome for all. Doing this will give you strength in speaking your mind and take the fear out of assuming that the other person will get defensive,

  • Learn how to ask for what you want in a way that will make others happy to accommodate. In this mindset, you will see the other person in a new light and as your ally, not your adversary.

Final Thoughts on Confrontation


If I can leave you with any final thought, it's this: you shouldn’t fear confrontation but instead embrace it. Change your view of what the process of confrontation actually is. It’s not the act of causing a problem, but the act of problem-solving. Expressing your feelings towards a disagreement doesn’t have to be acted upon in a negative way. If you hold in your true feelings then the negativity will build and ultimately result in an explosion of emotion which can lead to an ugly end. If both parties approach the problem in a positive way by getting to the true root of the problem, allowing both sides of the issue to be equally expressed, and then problem-solving to find a resolution that both sides can agree upon, then a successful confrontation has occurred.


Need help overcoming a fear of confrontation, or addressing some relationship issues in your life? I can help! Schedule a free coaching call with me here.


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