Conflict, Confrontation and Confidence

The Path Of ConflictAre you afraid of conflict?

I don’t think the fear is necessarily of the conflict itself. I think the fear comes from the outcome of the confrontation. Healthy confrontation probably comes more easily to people who have self-confidence. Confidence to speak up for themselves. And those who don’t worry too much about how the other person will react/respond.

So you can bet, codependents hate conflict.

In speaking about confrontation, I’m not talking about the aggressive, in your face kind of confrontation. I’m just talking about standing up for yourself, telling someone how you feel about how s/he treated you. I’m talking about two employees settle and resolve a dispute, or settling and resolving a dispute with your boss. Or telling your sister her sarcastic comment at last night’s get together hurt you. Telling your husband you don’t want to buy the house he has his heart set on.  Just for a few examples.

Dealing with conflict in a healthy way, can build intimacy and strengthen relationships between and among people. Conflict really is unavoidable in life for most of us. Even if we keep to ourselves, coming in contact with other people is still inevitable.

My guess would be that most people who have been abused, bullied and scapegoated, don’t have the confidence for confrontation and fear conflict because they don’t want to be disliked, they don’t want to be abandoned, they don’t want to be talked about and laughed at.

One thing I was afraid of with my family is not only being verbally attacked but the frustration of thinking of good points to make after the argument (which was usually me being berated, really) is finished. The more stressed I am, the more difficult it is to think straight. Plus I knew the modus operandi of my family members. With them it generally turned into them blaming me or berating for something, rather than a healthy discussion. Most of the time it didn’t end with resolution either. I hate the rumination that causes.

“I should have said this when they said that.”

For me, I’m sort of middle of the road about sticking up for myself or saying something, because it depends on who the person is that I feel the conflict with. It can also depend on what the situation is, what it’s about and my tolerance and confidence levels that particular day.

Values come into play too and what is important to you as far as being worth speaking up about.

A personal example of conflict, confrontation, resolution:
When my pay check was short once, I had no problem confronting my boss at the time, in a calm, respectful manner and showing her the discrepancy. And even though she didn’t see the mistake after my first explanation, I continued until she saw it and did something about it.

Here are two examples of conflict and confrontation with no resolution:
1. When my pet-sitting boss didn’t pay me for a particular visit, I backed down when I could read in her response email that she was not in agreement and seemingly beginning to become hostile. She asked me why she should pay me when I hadn’t walked the dog. And then followed that with, “just curious” three times.

I had a good argument pertaining to this.  She had told me numerous times that if I showed up for a visit but the dog didn’t get walked because the owner wass home but didn’t call to cancel, then the customers are charged and I get paid.

But instead of reminding her of her policy and the fact that she’d paid me plenty of other times before when in similar circumstances, I just wrote back,  Never mind, I don’t want to cause any conflict.”

I still kick myself for this one when I think about it. Even if I didn’t end up winning the argument and getting paid, at least I would’ve felt better about myself having made my point.

2. When a friend of a friend gas-lighted me while I was calling her out on her gossip tendencies, I realized the confrontation wasn’t worth it. When I saw it wasn’t a matter of her not understanding but a matter of her own actual conscious and deliberate denial, I realized it wasn’t worth it to ‘try to make her understand.’ I knew she understood but she was purposefully pretending she didn’t and saying things that indicated she thought I was being silly or ridiculous. It was condescending really. She wanted me to believe I was the one being ridiculous and that she actually had the fucking right to gossip because of her opinion of this person. And my sticking up for this person made me as bad as the woman she was gossiping about.

The last time I saw this woman, she pretended not to see me. Given where I was in her vicinity there is no way she didn’t see me. Did I die because she now doesn’t like me because I refused to play her sick game? Nope. I also saw that she wasn’t worth worrying about resolution and I also knew I said as much as I could say as she kept interrupting me.

I used to care so much about what she thought of me. I used to wonder what I could do to get her to like me. She is a very old friend of mine’s significant other so that is partly why it was so important to me at one point.

I noticed that on Facebook, seeing her comments triggered me because it reminded me that she didn’t like me, wouldn’t even acknowledge me if she didn’t really have to so I blocked her. It helped so much to not have to see her anywhere on FB even if she’d commented on a thread I didn’t see it.

But now I couldn’t care less about her opinion. So even though there was no resolution between us, I have some resolution within myself.

In regards to the two examples of not standing up for myself until resolution was reached, I ruminate on the former much more than on the latter. The former was about a stance for myself, not so much the money, although getting the money that was missing was important to me.

The latter was about the other person’s behavior that I could choose not to subject myself to.

{Not that I’m perfect and have never gossiped. Something I’ve been working on and staying aware of. I think generally that gossip is a sign of being angry at the person and there is something unresolved between the gossiper and the one being gossiped about.}

Check out a book called,
The Coward’s Guide to Conflict: Empowering Solutions for Those Who Would Rather Run Than Fight

An interesting point about conflict and confrontation is that it really intertwines with drawing boundaries. In speaking up for yourself and your values, you are actively drawing a boundary and when you fold, give in or even lack compromise in certain situations, you are sending a message about how porous or not, your resolve for drawing that boundary is.