I wonder why some people don’t fear confrontation while others, like myself, do. First of all, the word “fear” is a simple word with a big meaning. My fear, when it comes to confrontations or arguments, isn’t one involving paralyses or anything but I definitely feel anxiety. The level of anxiety, of course, depends on the circumstances. But no matter what way I slice it or label it confrontations of any kind fill me with dread.
Confrontations come in many shapes and sizes. I’ll list a few that I’ve had experiences with…
There’s the “billing” kind. You’ve been charged the incorrect amount for something and you need to “confront” the cashier or business to get it rectified. Yelling is one tactic, I suppose. What the hell!? Ten bucks for a carton of milk?? What are ya? Stupid?! Buuuut, I don’t think it’ll get you very far. Some people seem to think it will, though. This one isn’t bad for me. If know I’m right and I have my proof it’s all good, but depending on the complication factor (product price vs power bill) I like to have my spiel worked out in my head before-hand.
Then there’s the “negotiation” kind. Specifically, buying a vehicle. This may not fit exactly into the confrontation definition, but the anxiety is the same for me. When we bought our van a few years ago, I stood up to the salesman and stated that I wouldn’t accept being charged their “
stupid standard administration charge” of $199.00. I took a stand and said we’d walk away from the van if he insisted. He didn’t like it, and was giving me his salesman speech, and succeeding trying to make me feel guilty. I was calm and determined to him, but inside my stomach was in knots. I prevailed in the end, though, and we weren’t charged the fee. I did what I needed to, but it was not a comfortable feeling. Stupid salesmen.
Another, totally unpleasant kind, is the confrontation between friends. During most long term friendships there comes a time where one does something that pisses off the other. In my opinion, if you want to have a meaningful friendship where you know you can fully trust that person, you must confront and sort out the issue. Aside: Men don’t seem to have this need. They can have a major argument one day and even tell each other to f-off, but then carry on the next day as if nothing happened. I haven’t met many women that can do that although I’m sure they’re out there. I’m certainly not one of them. I think it has something to do with the nature of mens’ friendships vs those of women. I think ours are deeper. A meaningul discussion for men could be about who is the most valuable hockey player on a given team. Disclaimer: Since I am not a man, I may be wrong…ummmm…but I don’t think I am! I’ve had instances where I’ve said something insensitive to a friend and they’ve phoned me up to tell me I hurt them. Immediately, my stomach clenches and my hands start to shake. The first time it happened I was about twenty. I didn’t know how to respond so I just said: “Okay. Sorrrrr-ee.” I hung up the phone and immediately phoned a different friend asking her opinion. I’m very glad to say that I’ve grown up and wouldn’t do that now! The couple of times it’s happened since I made sure I heard the friend out and expressed empathy. “I can see why what I said upset you. I’m sorry.” But I still feel major anxiety. If the friendship is important, however, it’s worth the discomfort.
There’s the parenting confrontations that we sometimes have to deal with daily. In this case, my emotion is more like anger, but one could argue (and I would) that anger is related to anxiety and fear. I won’t go into this one. Suffice it to say that these “confrontations” are a necessary evil.
As are the times when we need to stand up for our younger kids and confront another adult on their behalf. Some moms I know, just plow into those confrontations full of righteous indignation. They are the mama lion. “Mess with my kid, and I’ll bite you’re head off!” My mom was like that. So, perhaps that’s why I tend to be a little more conservative in this department. Ohh, I stand up for my kids. Do not misunderstand. But I do give it thought, rehearse my speech ahead of time, and yes bring my friend, Miss Anxiety, along with me.
The final one I’ll mention is the marital kind. I find this one the most difficult. Two people living, working, and parenting together have the potential for many disagreements. Duh. (That’s the epitome of understatement.) I married young at 22 and I avoided confronations at all costs. During the last several years I’ve seen the error of my ways. I no longer go quietly into the night, but it ain’t fun.
What’s most frustrating is that often I can’t think of things to say in the moment. It’s not until I’m away from the situation that the perfect “come-back” comes to mind.
In the end, I have to admit that I don’t want to make someone mad at me or cause them not to like me. Already, I can hear the thoughts in response to that statement: “I could care less what people think of me”, “You can’t please everyone”, “Not everyone will like me and that’s just fine”, etc, ect. I know! That’s why, in my thirties, even though I feel fear I do it anyway. In fact, it’s those statements I say to myself as a pep talk before I go into “battle”. Because here’s a revelation: Not everyone will like me! How ’bout that? And it’s a suprisingly freeing realization, too. It’s easy enough to say, but it’s one I’ve embracing more and more. Not EVERYone will like me!! Whooo hoooo. But plenty will because I’m a damn good person. 😀