Confrontation is for some people like an energy drink, giving them the drive to make even the smallest mole hill a mountain. For me, the opposite is true: after a confrontation, I feel drained and exhausted wishing to never repeat such an experience again.
No matter which side of the coin one may find himself, confrontation is always a very emotional experience. I am one of those people who play “what if” and “he will say…then I will say” mind tapes over again and again the night before. Typically, the confrontation is never as bad as it seemed during my mind-rehearsal all through the night. It always ends with some sort of resolution, right or wrong, depending upon whose viewpoint.
As I have grown older, I have found that confrontation is better than ignoring a situation in hopes that it will go away. In fact, people often find out that the perplexing situation exists only in one mind, and the other party is totally oblivious. For that reason alone, I have learned to just go ahead and acknowledge the white elephant in the room.
My husband learned over time that it was never good to confront a problem until the persons involved had a chance to get emotions under control. Thus, he always said, “Kay, I have an issue which we need to discuss. I’m too upset now, so let’s make an appointment to talk this afternoon.” This has been much better than both of us justifying our positions in emotional voices. The cooling off period helps get thoughts together.
During my career, I also made it a habit to NEVER talk about a problem over the phone. Body language is an important ingredient in communication. Phone conversations leave that element out. I am straightforward in any issue…I don’t beat around the bush. As an administrator, I would always call everyone involved in a situation to sit in together to discuss it. That way, there could be no “she said” or “he said” without verification by the person who was also present. However, I once had a staff member who, when she was confronted within the group meeting, would plead, “I just can’t remember what I said.” Like President Reagan, it was hard to get past that stalemate. I often wondered if she found herself suffering dementia as she grew older. I do know that the immediate effect was that she lost people’s confidence in her word.
Report card grades often bring confrontation to a school. The best way to prevent a confrontation is to keep the lines of communication open and flowing between student, parent and teacher. It is impossible to adequately fix a student’s problem if he/she is not present and included in the meeting set to address the problem.