Helpful Tips When Confronting a Friend or Family Member

This is a difficult subject because so much can go wrong when confronting someone. I mean, if you feel the need to confront someone and you’re nervous to do so, they’re probably not treating you well in the first place or may never have. If you have a healthy relationship with someone, confronting an issue wouldn’t be scary because you know you’re safe and respected by them. This isn’t so much for those healthy relationships as it is for the problematic ones, but you can use any of these tips for either.

Confrontation is not easy but it can be necessary. It’s usually not hard to confront a stranger, especially over the internet, because we don’t care what they think of us and have nothing to risk. We have the option to block people as well and that’s the end of it. We never need to talk to them ever again. But when it comes to our friends or our family members, we have all these strings attached and you probably have a good idea already exactly what could go wrong when you upset this person.

That being said, you know this person that is causing you some kind of problem and you already know how they typically respond to being confronted or “called out”. If you are dealing with consistent disrespect or harm by someone and need professional advice on how to handle them, please contact a professional before using any of these tips with them. There are some people who will never change and talking to them about their behavior will only escalate the situation. Just make the best choices based off of your knowledge of this person.

Set Your Intentions

Before starting the conversation, set your intentions. This looks like telling the person you’re confronting why you are having the conversation and what you need out of the conversation. Examples would be to say things like “I don’t want to argue about this, I would like a simple answer” “I would like to have a polite/respectful conversation about this” “I value our relationship and want to clear up any misunderstandings/hurt between us” “I don’t want to talk about this anymore after today” “We don’t need to agree on this, I would just appreciate an apology”

What this does is let the other person know how they should respond. It takes away some of the scariness of the conversation because they already know what it’s about and how you would like to handle it. You may have to remind them of these intentions during the conversation if it starts to get out of control.

Bring a Buddy

A lot of people are not comfortable with confrontation so when you feel the need to do so, it’s okay to ask someone you trust to be with you. It also will help you get what you need out of the conversation because your buddy can help explain your feelings to the other person if you shut down or start to get talked over. Sometimes when we’re not confident having a conversation we just give in to the other person. You need enough confidence to stick up for yourself and bring the conversation back if it starts to go off track. If you are not comfortable enough to do this, bring a buddy who can help you stay focused and get your desired outcome. It’s also important that your buddy stays calm and this does not turn into a 2 against 1 fight.

Write a Letter, Call or send a Message

Sometimes the person we need to confront lives far away or you may just rarely see them, so these are your only options. I would trust your knowledge of the person and how they handle each of these on which contact method is best. Words can come across more hurtful in a text or FB message so keep that in mind. You would need to be very mindful of how the message will be received and if your true feelings are clear. Again even over a call or message, set your intentions. If you don’t need a response and the person simply reading your message is good enough for you, let them know. Etc.

It’s easier to be polite to someone when we’re talking in person but in a call, message, or letter, sometimes our emotions get the best of us. Remain calm and keep it short and to the point.

Acknowledge and Validate their Feelings

This really calms people down when they’re feeling any emotion strongly. Confrontation usually makes people defensive and they might start showing anger towards you to try and protect themselves. For example they might say “You always take what I say the wrong way!” When this happens you could say things like “It must be frustrating to feel misunderstood” This will usually calm them down but it’s important to keep the focus on the real issue and not on their feelings. Acknowledge their angry, sadness, etc, and then bring the conversation back to you.

Remember Your Boundaries

The person you are confronting might start to ignore you, guilt trip you, yell at you, cry, and refuse to respect your feelings. In this case, let them know that you feel unheard and can’t continue if they won’t agree to be respectful. If they continue to disrespect you, walk away and be done. If you need to hang up on them over the phone or temporarily block them from messaging you, you can do that as well. They do not get to continue to hurt you. Set boundaries and keep them.

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