Caring Confrontation

Standing up for yourself can feel really… intimidating.

Seems like a silly concept, right?

But, when you think about it, you are the only person who knows how you truly feel about things. So, who else can stand up for your beliefs better than- well, you?

But, knowing this doesn’t make confrontation seem any easier to tackle than before, does it?

Maybe you hate confrontation because you don’t want to hurt others’ feelings by trying to force your beliefs/opinion on them, or maybe you don’t want to seem too pushy, or, maybe you just don’t like the idea of vocalizing your disagreements with others’ views.

Whatever the deterring factor may be, the point is, that something is holding you back from getting closer to living a more authentic life.

Thankfully, there is good news. There are ways to confront others without it having to come off as aggressive or mean. The methods you can use to make sure you get your point across without having to put someone else down is through something called a caring confrontation.

This form of confrontation allows you to explore both of your ideas and views on a situation, without outright devaluing another person’s perspective. Because this is coming more from a place of concern and interest in involving the other person in the decision making process, they can feel more open to the idea of exploring these alternative reasons/ideas with you; as opposed to both of you having a dead-set track you are adamant to stay on.

This can be extremely beneficial for both you and the person you are engaging in this more humble confrontation with because it can open both of your minds to different ideas, and point of views, to help widen your imaginative horizons.

Sometimes people are unaware of how abrasive or defensive they can come off during a conflict or a situation when there is an expressed difference of opinions. By softly approaching this predicament and walking through the possible alternatives with this person, you can open-up both of your minds to different opportunities and resolutions to a situation that before may have appeared (to both of you) as having a definitive answer.

If you’re like me, and learn from concrete examples, I’d like to provide you with a model of how to pose a caring confrontation so that you can elicit encouragement and understanding, instead of targetting and discontent:

  1. It is best to have this conversation in private, and not from a place of anger:
    Sometimes, we need to allow ourselves to “cool-down” and take a step back from a scenario that has left us a little heated. Once we have a clear mind, we can, in a more calm and collected manner, approach the other person we are confronting and ask them if now is a good time to talk. It is important to also make sure you have their permission to have this discussion, to keep in mind that just because you are calmed down does not mean that the other person is. Asking also allows for it feel as more of a collaborative effort, as opposed to an attack.
  2. Use the pronoun “I” instead of “you”:
    This approach places some responsibility on you as well, and is more accurate. Again, the reason for bringing up the confrontation is because of the way that it affected you, so this allows the person to understand how you were impacted by the action. It can feel a lot less aggressive to say, “I was hurt when ___”, then “You hurt me when__”.
  3. Explain the impact of the confronted action:
    To better help the person understand how you were affected by the incident, it helps to make yourself vulnerable by opening up and explaining to him/her how you felt and why. A good example of the importance of this, is if you have ever had an authoritarian figure in your life, or seen one in an encounter with someone, you know how frustrating it can be for that person to say “Just don’t do it!” or, “because I said so”. Letting someone in and helping them understand why you are suggesting they do/or do not do something again is a lot easier to accept than a demand without explanation.
  4. Suggest alternative actions:
    It can be very helpful to brainstorm with the other person to help come up with an alternative action to take in place of the one that was not working, so that you can compromise and both come to an agreement together. This goes back to the idea of returning responsibility, and giving the other person the opportunity to be an important change agent in this process. Think about it, wouldn’t you be more likely to want to make changes in your behavior for someone if you felt you had a say in what that alternative action could be?

I’m sure that there are other ways to implement a caring confrontation, but this particular approach is something I’ve formulated by combining insight from personal experiences and scholarly articles and it happens to work the best for me. Feel free to alter some steps that you feel may be more effective per your specific personality/situation!

You do not need to be bossy to confront others, just as you do not need to be bossed around to accommodate your actions to help make others feel important/relevant. Life is about staying tuned in to how you are affecting others, and being open and willing to continue to learn and grow as a person; which is why caring confrontations can be such a beautiful thing.


-Virginia Johnson

Are you struggling with self-confidence, confrontation, or are you just interested in talking to someone about things going on in your life because you simply feel that you do not as you should? Sometimes having a partner in your journey can help. Give us a call  to set up a free phone consultation at Life Skills Resource Group Orlando at 407-355-7378, and one of our Orlando Individual Counselors, Orlando Life Coaches, Orlando Teen Counselors, and Orlando Child counselors would be more than happy to help you, a family member, or a friend work on changing your life.