Most people consider speaking up or speaking their truth as confrontation. When it comes to addressing matters with others many clients say to me “Oh I’m not good at or I don’t like confrontation”.
To discuss and converse with others is actually not confrontation. Confrontation is a hostile or argumentative situation. If you are going into a conversation ready for “battle” then perhaps it could be considered as such. Alternatively if you are going into a conversation with the aim to resolve or to speak up for yourself, in a kind and respectful manner, then it is not confrontation.
Speaking up and stating your truth is more about you than the other person. Considering it as confrontation can just be a smoke screen for what is really concerning you. Underlining concerns could include:
- being fearful that the other person won’t like what you have to say. That they will disagree with you or reject you;
- concerned with your ability to stand your ground;
- avoiding the discomfort you will feel;
- de-valuing or questioning yourself and your needs;
- endeavouring to be a people pleaser; and/or
- the other person will react in a hostile manner.
Now if the other person has a history of being aggressive and threatening then your concern could be very valid. In that instance then you might need to consider the setting in which you have such a conversation as well as having a support person or people.
Whilst you have choice it is critical to understand the impact of not speaking up. Which includes:
- increase of stress within the mind, body & spirit which is draining
- disempowerment creating a lack of self worth, confidence and belief
- others assuming what they are doing is ok and you approve
- disengage from other people and become isolated
- reinforce neurological pathways for fear which may show up in other areas of life
- decreases opportunities for yourself and others to learn
When it comes to communication the words you use are a small fraction of the communication exchange.
The pitch and tone of your voice, along with the speed, rhythm and pauses you use to say your words can actually express more about what you are communicating than the actual words you use.
In addition your body language, as in your posture, pose, gestures and expressions, convey subtle non-verbal signals. Which can be perceived as either supporting or contradicting your words. In fact this component contributes to 55% of the communication process. Of course noting these percentages change if the communication is not face to face.
Disagreement or Rejection of your Truth
If another person is not willing to listen to you or to endeavour to understand your needs and what is right for you or if they react in a way that is defensive, often because their own issues have been triggered. It is important to remember what is right for you, doesn’t have to be right for them.
Also be aware that if a person isn’t wanting to support you in what you’ve had to say it could be they don’t want to change the status quo. Because it is more comfortable for them, or it best suits their needs, for things (as well as you) to remain the way it is.
Remember that people do things for their own reasons so if you can position what you want to change as beneficial to them, you have more chance of them taking on board what you’ve got to say.
Ability to Stand your Ground
There is a saying in sport; Proper Preparation Prevents Poor Performance. So when it comes to standing your ground it can be good to consider what the other person may say so that you can more easily counteract or address it. In other words having a “comeback” for their possible objections or disagreements with what is being said.
Somethings are uncomfortable, especially if we are not use to doing them. Speaking up is a skill and like any skill once we do it often enough we become more comfortable with doing it. At times too the discomfort we are feeling is a result of our mind and what we think could happen.
Address your discomfort of speaking up by starting small in what you bring up with others e.g. topics that don’t have big emotional impacts on others. Also when you are asked what you want for lunch instead of saying “you choose” or “I don’t mind” speak about about what you want to eat. You will become more at ease with having a voice.
For the more emotional conversations have goal for the conversation. Consider what is your ideal outcome from the conversation. This will help guide you in what you say and if you are really nervous just write it all down – it is ok to read from a piece of paper to keep you on track for what you want to convey.
Placing value on yourself on what is right for you is really important. As such you are helping others understand what you are willing (and not willing) to tolerate. Questioning your truth, and the importance of it, is simply de-valuing your own needs. If you are doing this then it could be you need to work on your self worth.
A great technique for respectfully disagreeing with others and reducing resistance, is the agreement frame. The agreement frame takes uses one or more of the following templates to communicate:
- I agree <insert what you can honestly agree with> also/and <give your alternative>
- I respect <insert what you can genuinely respect about their point of view> also <give your alternative>
- I appreciate <insert what you can really appreciate> and <give your alternative>
These frames endeavour to keep the person you are communicating with engaged and open rather than being shut off to your ideas and views. Thus creating a space of less resistance.
People pleasing tends to come from a deep needs of external validation. They worry about how the will be perceived and deeply fear being rejected. The people pleaser tends to think it is their role to make every one around them happy, usually at the expense of themselves.
Pleasing others at the expense of yourself can be stressful and draining. Ultimately it can also destroy the friendship and/or relationship. Because when you continually disregard your own truth and what is right for your, you can become resentful of the other person.
If the person has a history of hostile reactions then perhaps it is a discussion which can legitimately be considered as confrontational. In that case then perhaps a different style of communication other than face to face could be ideal. Alternatively consider having a support person to attend the discussion with you.
Remember your goal is to be assertive not aggressive. So using “I statements” can assist with this. In that way you are taking responsibility for how you feel rather than accusatory. Rather than say, “You’re so disrespectful arriving late for our lunch” say, “I feel disrespected and unloved when you arrive late.”
Speaking your truth and having boundaries around what is right for you does become easier the more you practice it. You also gain more skills at dealing with those people or situations that can be less than easy to manage. Remember to start small and keep building upon your skill set.