Communication is the oil that runs every relationship. We talk, we communicate. We share our views, express our opinions. We get to know the other better and we allow the other to know us better.
However, just as the words we speak can build us up, they can also tear us down. Learning to use right words is a skill. And it’s a skill wise people learn to preserve the relationships in their lives. The truth is every relationship have conflicts. We will quarrel, we will clash and we sometimes will fight. We will have opposing ideas, we will have divergent views. Sometimes our conduct will annoy our partner and upset them. What makes the difference between a happy healthy relationship and an unhappy one is how they resolve their many conflicts. Because, let’s face it, we all stumble in many ways.
One major way to resolving conflicts is choosing to have conversations and not confrontations.
First reckon it to yourself that you don’t have to win the argument. If you resolve that you are both on the same team regardless of the views you hold or the ideas you have, then conversations will be a little less difficult. Resolution of the conflict, making for peace is what is important, not who wins or loses. If the conflict is resolved, you both win. You’re on the same team.
Confrontation VS Conversation, as shared by Marie Hartwell-Walker.
Confrontations kill meaningful conversations.
- A confrontation is a ‘face to face meeting’ (Merriam-Webster Collegiate Dictionary). It is also a collision of opposing ideas or forces. It is smashing and slapping one’s views against the other partner.
A conversation is a verbal exchange of sentiments, observations, opinions or ideas. It is a chit chat or a discussion of feelings and thoughts. It’s sharing ideas and opinions and being willing to listen to the other partner’s opinion too.
- Confrontations are usually fueled by anger. It is one party confronting the other because he or she is upset with the other’s behavior and ANGRILY demands a change.
Conversations, on the other hand, are fueled by curiosity. One person is bewildered or confused by something the other is doing and simply asks what it is about. There is no layer of anger to get through before getting to the issue.
- Confrontations have an aura of a judicial proceeding. The confronter is the accuser and the judge. The confrontee is the defendant.
This doesn’t do much for the relationship. When confronted, people often feel ‘nailed.’ Even if there is a reasonable explanation for the issue or behavior they are being asked to explain, it is difficult to put the tone of confrontation aside.
It’s hard enough to offer another point of view without first having to get past hurt and anger.
Conversations frame a problem as something to be solved. This frames the situation as a problem to be solved.
- Confrontations have an element of moral superiority. Usually the confronter feels they have the higher ground. That, of course, puts the confrontee on the defensive. Now there are two issues to deal with.
Conversations happen between equals. Neither person acts like he or she knows better, is more ethical, or is supported by a higher moral authority. Instead, the people involved talk respectfully together about whatever is making things difficult between them.
- Confrontations shield the confronter from any responsibility. The confronter feels and behaves as if she or he had nothing to do with the situation.
Often enough, problems in a relationship take two.
Conversations say “we’re in this together.”
- Confrontations favorite words or phrases include, ‘You said…’ ‘You did…’ ‘You left…’ ‘You took…’ ‘You didn’t…’ ‘You never…’ ‘You failed to…’ And when they are spoken the index finger is pointing at the confrontee (as in the image above)
Conversations however take the tone of a question or enquiry.
- Confrontation says ‘You always leave the towel on the floor!’
Conversation says ‘Why do/did you leave your towel on the floor?’
- Confrontation says ‘You spent all the money and didn’t even think of other needs!’
Conversation says ‘May I know why you made so and so expense?’
- Confrontation says “Where have you been and what have you been doing?”
Conversation says ‘When you are late this much, I get anxious and a little insecure. Can we talk about it?’
No one likes to be confronted. We all can choose to have conversations. To have meaningful and peaceful conversations is a skill anyone can learn.
“I feel angry toward you for coming home late for supper without calling me first” is an adult-to-adult message, whereas “You should always call me when you’re going to be late for supper” is a parent-to-child message. A parent-to-child message will cause the mate to become defensive.
However, Confrontations are sometimes appropriate, as Marie Hartwell-Walker further explained.
‘Yes, sometimes a confrontation is appropriate and necessary. Someone has done something or has done many things that are grievous, in which case a confrontation may be exactly what is required for the injured person to regain dignity and self-respect. A person who has been abused and humiliated by his or her partner or anyone else has every right to be angry, to judge the situation as unfair and hurtful, and to demand change.
A note of caution is that the abused person who is doing the confronting should do it in a way that is safe. Confrontations rarely change a chronic abuser, bully, or user and may in fact invite more abuse.
But when there has been no abuse or there is no clear evidence of wrongdoing, a conversation is more likely to lead to change. Conversations invite cooperative problem-solving and collaborative decisions.’
What are you having? Conversations or Confrontations?
Photo credit: Google