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The fear of confrontation is one of the most common fears among people. Whether it’s fear of being yelled at, a fear of someone not understanding or disagreeing with your point of view, or you simply don’t want to be the “bad guy”… there are many reasons people have this fear.
While having the courage to face your fears and confront issues head-on takes time, if you know how to prepare for a confrontation and tackle it, then facing your fear will become easier with time. We promise. It also helps to understand where the source of your fear stems from. Face that, and the fear may dissipate.
What Does It Mean to Have a Fear of Confrontation?
For some people, this means fear of public speaking. For others, it may be fear of being shamed or dismissed. Or the fear of not being heard. Heck, you may be terrified of someone’s overly aggressive or narcissistic personality and want to avoid engaging with them at all costs.
Whatever the fear, confronting someone can seem daunting and overwhelming. This is because we often focus on the potential outcomes of a confrontation rather than the issue itself.
We might fear we’ll get yelled at or fear what might happen if the other person doesn’t understand where we’re coming from. While it’s normal to be apprehensive about a confrontation, these fears can prevent us from facing them and confronting someone important in our lives.
Not only is there the mental aspect of fearing confrontation, but the physical as well. When you’re too passive and avoid conflict, you might feel fear in the pit of your stomach. Nausea, sweating profusely or feeling an increase in your heart rate are all side effects of crippling fear.
Below are 17 steps you can take to help you overcome your fears… hopefully once and for all.
Steps to Overcome Your Fear of Confrontation
1. Prepare Ahead of Time
One of the best ways to overcome fear is to prepare for it. This means knowing what you want to say and how you want to say it. If you’re prepared, you’ll feel more confident when approaching the situation. Preparation not only allows you more time to figure things out, but you’ll gain experience as you face that fear in how to handle those situations.
2. Recognize Your Fear
The first step in overcoming any fear recognizes fear exists. Once you’ve identified your fear, you can understand why it’s there and what might trigger it. This will help you plan and prevent fear from getting in the way by acknowledging it head-on.
Try standing or sitting with your back unsupported and pay attention to how fear makes you feel. Ask yourself “What is a yes feeling to me” and reflect on how doing something you love or getting positive feels. Then, ask yourself, “What is a NO feeling to me”, focusing on how the fear affects you.
Once you’ve done this and recognize the signals your body gives, you’ll be able to better control how you react.
3. Examine Your Fear
Once you’ve recognized your fear, you need to inspect it. What are the specific things that scare you about confrontation? Is it fear of being yelled at or fear of being abandoned? It might be helpful to write your fears and brain dump them into a journal or on a piece of paper.
By identifying your fear, you can better understand why it’s there. You may avoid confrontation because you don’t want to feel the fear, but by doing this, you’re only reinforcing the fear itself. If you continue to allow fear to rule your life, then you will only perpetuate more fear.
4. Challenge Your Fear
Now it’s time to challenge your fear. This means facing those things that scare you the most and proving to yourself they’re not as bad as you think they are. If you’re afraid of being yelled at, for example, start by talking to a good friend who is known for being loud. This will help you understand a raised voice is not the end of the world.
5. Start Small
When you’re first confronting your fear, it’s important to start small. This means gradually facing those things that scare you the most. If you try to do too much at once, you’re likely to become overwhelmed and give up.
Take baby steps and as you become more comfortable with those feelings, gradually move on to bigger fears by acknowledging and controlling the amount of fear you’re feeling.
In breaking it down into smaller pieces, it is much easier to manage confrontations as they pop up.
6. Allow Yourself to Feel Your Fear
It’s important to experience fear doing nothing about it. When you’re afraid of something, allow yourself the freedom to feel fear and not try to push it away. Be in the moment, acknowledge it, and focus on what’s happening.
This doesn’t mean you must act on the fear but simply acknowledging it will help you overcome it overall. When you’re facing your fear, have affirmations or mantras on hand to focus on yourself.
7. Understand the Situation
Before confronting someone, take some time to understand the situation itself. What is the issue that needs to be addressed? Why is this confrontation happening? By understanding the situation, you’ll be better equipped to address the issue at hand.
8. Express Yourself in a Way that Doesn’t Incite Blame
When you confront someone, it’s important to express yourself in a way that doesn’t put blame on the other person. Use “I” statements to share your feelings and what you want from the conversation. For example, “I felt really upset when you didn’t call me back.”
If you start with sentences such as “You made didn’t call me back and it made me upset.” or any other type of “you” statement, you’re insinuating blame on the other person and may start a confrontation without meaning to.
9. Listen Carefully and Paraphrase
When the other person is speaking, listen carefully. Paraphrase what they say so they know you’re paying attention and understand their point of view. This also shows them you’re willing to try to see things from their perspective.
Don’t be afraid to ask questions if the conversation turns towards something you don’t understand. Getting frustrated with the situation will only exacerbate any confrontation that may occur.
10. Be Respectful and Polite
No matter how angry or frustrated you may feel, it’s important to remain respectful and polite during a confrontation. This will help keep the conversation from escalating and becoming hostile.
11. Repeat Yourself as Necessary
If the other person doesn’t seem to get what you’re saying, repeat yourself until they do. This might mean you need to say things differently or ask them to clarify what they’re saying.
This will speak to the other person you have an open mind for conversation but are expecting each other to actively listen. Active listening is the art of making sure you’re in the moment with that conversation and it will also help you paraphrase.
12. Don’t Panic
When confronting someone, it’s natural to feel fear or anxiety. However, try not to panic and let those feelings take over. Take some deep breaths and remind yourself you’re in control of the situation.
If you find yourself in a situation where you feel you’re about to panic, or you are already panicking, take a step back. Close your eyes and acknowledge and face the fear. Taking deep breaths, you’re consciously taking in is something you can do to ground yourself in these situations. Breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth for best results while focusing on the fear to deal with it. Practice this mindfulness over your fear, and you’ll find you’re able to handle panic better when it arises.
13. Know What You Want From the Conversation
Before you confront someone, it’s important to know what you want from the conversation. Is there a particular point that needs to be made? What is your goal in having this confrontation? Knowing these things will help guide the discussion and keep both parties on track. This will also ensure you’re not wasting your time having a conversation that does nothing to bring value.
14. Take Care of Yourself First
When you’re dealing with fear, it’s important to take care of yourself first. This means eating healthy food, getting enough sleep, and exercising. Taking care of yourself will help you stay calm and focused during a confrontation. Mentally and physically, you’ll want to be in tune with yourself over the course of your conversation in a confrontational situation.
Find ways to be grateful for friends, family, and other things around you. This will help with having an open mind and a more positive outlook.
15. If Necessary, Walk Away
There may be times when the other person isn’t willing to have a constructive conversation. If this is the case, it’s okay to walk away. Let them know you’re willing to talk when they’re ready and then leave the situation.
16. Agree on Guidelines for Interruptions
If there are interruptions during the conversation, both parties should agree on guidelines for how to handle them. This means when one person is speaking, the other won’t interrupt them. By agreeing on these rules, both people will communicate more effectively.
17. Develop a Plan for Potential Outcomes
Use humor as appropriate; if necessary, walk away and come back later when emotions have calmed down; agree on how to handle interruptions during conversations so both people can be heard fully. By taking these steps, you’ll be better prepared for a difficult confrontation. By remaining calm and respectful, you can hopefully resolve the issue positively.
Final Thoughts on Fear of Confrontation
Confrontation is a necessary part of life, and we can’t always avoid it. But you don’t have to go in unprepared.
With the seventeen steps we’ve outlined here, you will be well on your way to overcoming your fear and confront tricky situations with power and grace. Implementing this plan may even help improve the quality of your relationships – not just at work – but also with friends, family members or lovers.
You owe it to yourself to try! Want some other ideas on getting in the right mindset for confrontation? Check out ways you can be better at mindfulness that can help you be more aware of yourself and what’s going on around you.
Finally, if you want to increase your happiness and life satisfaction, then watch this free video that details the 7-minute habit for planning your day to focus on what's important.