12 Highly Effective Ways To Be Less Confrontational

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Confrontation and conflict are a necessary part of the human experience. Sometimes, you have to clash with other people to defend yourself, someone else, or stand up for what you believe in.

However, there is such a thing as being too confrontational.

Sometimes you may find yourself embroiled in conflict that isn’t yours to begin with. You may find yourself taking offense and clashing with other people because of different perspectives. And even worse, if you’ve made a habit of anger and confrontation, you may find yourself in conflict for no reason at all.

The big problem with too much confrontation and conflict is that they are alienating. Healthy, happy, balanced people don’t spend their time with angry, confrontational people. It’s just not worth the time and energy if the people you surround yourself with constantly drag you down into a negative mental space.

Too much confrontation can be isolating because you may find yourself surrounded only by other people that fuel your anger and conflict – and misery loves company.

So, let’s look at some tips on being less confrontational.

1. Know what battles you want to fight.

Contrary to popular opinion, it is not a good thing to never be confrontational or willing to fight. Sometimes you have to fight because people are people. Sometimes, they’re just more intelligent, crueler animals.

So, really take some time to think about the things that make you heated. Figure out which of those things you simply cannot stay quiet about. If it’s something you feel or believe passionately, it may be worth the conflict.

Once you identify that, you dial back in other areas where you find yourself in conflict. Like, you may not feel super passionate about a particular thing, so you don’t have to be on the front lines arguing and fighting about it. If it’s something you want to support, you can always do things like quietly donate to the cause.

2. Avoid talking about issues you get angry about.

There used to be an old saying that went something to the effect of, “In polite company, do not discuss matters of religion, politics, or money.” And it’s not because there weren’t terrible things happening that could potentially hurt many people. At no point in history has there ever been a time when some group of people wasn’t on the outs and getting beaten down by society.

No, the reason is that those sorts of discussions rarely go anywhere positive. These beliefs are often formed by a person’s life experiences, and you’re probably not going to be able to argue against decades of how someone lives or sees the world. Sure, you can confront them and conflict with them with no problem, but what good does it really do?

3. Learn to let go of petty arguments.

No one can have their way 100% of the time. So sometimes you won’t be able to find common ground with another person. That’s okay. What matters is that you learn not to dig in your heels and keep fighting when clearly you’re not going to find a resolution. It’s a waste of valuable time and emotional energy to even bother.

Assuming no one is getting hurt, just shrug and let it go. Let them think whatever they want to think. Oh, the sky is green? Fine. Who cares. The moon is actually a hollowed-out space station towed into an elliptical orbit by extraterrestrials to use as a monitoring station on earth? Ohhhhh-kay.

If it doesn’t matter, let it go.

4. Assume imperfection over malice.

We’re all human. We’re going to make mistakes and do dumb things sometimes. None of us are exempt. Sometimes we wind up in conflicts because of miscommunications, misconceptions, or unmet expectations.

However, it’s not necessary or wise to take every screw-up that happens in life as a personal or malicious attack.

Sometimes people just do dumb stuff. So, unless information shows otherwise, try to assume that people are generally doing the best they can, even if it’s not that good.

Take the classic example of being cut off in traffic. Yeah, maybe that person is a jerk. Or, maybe they have an emergency currently going on that they are trying to get to quickly. That person probably isn’t trying to drive like a jerk or cause an accident.

5. Look for a mutually beneficial solution.

Sometimes a conflict can be resolved by compromise and finding some middle ground. Most reasonable people are willing to come to a middle ground that they feel can benefit both parties. They know that they aren’t going to always and completely get their way.

But, of course, that’s often easier said than done. Not everyone is all that reasonable.

Still, if you can find some middle ground where you can both benefit, it will generally be a better option than clashing about it.

6. Use mindfulness to understand your emotions.

Mindfulness is about being aware of what you’re feeling and doing in the moment instead of operating on autopilot. By being mindful about what you’re feeling in the moment, you can try to interrupt that emotional process instead of just being dragged along by it. So many people don’t really think about what they’re feeling in the moment. They just feel what they feel and get pulled along by those emotions.

However, if you can start to feel your own anger building, you can find a way to interrupt and divert that emotional process. That might be stepping away from the conversation, thinking about something more calming, or changing the subject to something less inflammatory.

Mindfulness can be a powerful tool to preserve your inner peace and harmony. It takes practice, though.

7. Reduce your general life stress.

Stress really taxes the brain and body. It causes additional hormone production that can dramatically affect a person’s well-being and mental stability. A stressed-out person will typically become more irritable, prone to anger, and lashing out.

Confrontational people would do well to look around at the rest of their life and see if they are currently mired in stress. They may be able to find some relief from their own anger and irritability by improving other conditions in their life.

For example, stress management, reducing workloads, or just taking a little break from the world when they can find the time can really help even things out.

Again, easier said than done, but it should be done if it’s something you can do.

8. Work on your communication skills.

There is a difference between confrontation and assertiveness. The difference is the emotions behind those two actions. Confrontation involves anger and conflict. Assertiveness is calm and collected. Confrontation is often stained by anger which may not be rational or reasonable. Assertiveness is rooted in reality and fact-based.

If you are in a position where you need to stand up for yourself, consider how you can logically present your complaint to the other person. Take some time to think about it and even rehearse what you want to say. That way, when you actually have the conversation, you’ll have a much better idea of how to express yourself without getting angry.

This is also helpful if you’re not a quick thinker. Some people are. They can come up with what they need on the fly. Others, not so much. And it’s very frustrating when you can’t find your words, which leads to anger, which leads to arguing, which leads to conflict.

9. Avoid accusations and criticism.

One common conflict resolution technique is using “I” statements. Instead of focusing on what the other person did or is doing wrong, focus on how you feel the problem affects you. That will help keep the other person invested in the conversation and not feel attacked.

So it might look something like this:

“You never help me with housework!”

“I feel disrespected and like my time isn’t valued when I have to do all of the housework.”

The first one is undoubtedly going to lead to a confrontation. However, the second can get you much closer to a meaningful resolution.

10. You don’t have to have an opinion on everything.

You always have the option to simply not have an opinion on a thing. The fact of the matter is that you may not even know enough about the thing to have a knowledgeable opinion. So why bother fighting and arguing over something that you may not have a vested interest in? And if you are going to have an opinion on the thing, it’s a good idea to really read about it and listen to some experts on the thing.

People addicted to anger get all up-in-arms about things that have absolutely no bearing on their lives. It gives them a reason to be angry and engage in conflict. The problem is that you can’t really win against those people by using confrontation and anger. They’re not doing it to win. They’re doing it because they like anger and conflict. So both participants are playing two entirely different games.

The only way to win with those people is to not play the game.

11. Assume reasonable responsibility for your actions.

Sometimes we do the wrong thing or take the wrong action. That’s just part of being human. You can relieve so much conflict in your life by working on your ability to accept responsibility for your shortcomings. There’s no reason to fight or argue about it when you can just go, “Yes, I did that. And I apologize for my actions. How can I make it right with you?”

Now, while this is valuable for your own peace of mind, you must be able to be assertive. For example, people who aren’t doing the right thing may try to shove other responsibility onto you that is not yours. In that case, you need to be able to say, “No. That was not my responsibility or my choice.”

The great thing about living this way is that you quickly develop a reputation for it. So, for example, let’s say you’re working with someone less than honest. They make a mistake and try to blame it on you. Once people know you, they will know you’re being honest when you say, “No, I didn’t do that.” Because they know you admit when you were wrong.

Embracing that honesty is incredibly liberating, even if it’s hard sometimes. Of course, it will cause some bumps here and there. Still, overall, it will significantly reduce the conflict in your life, particularly when it matters.

12. Ask the other person for their thoughts to find a middle ground.

You can easily turn a confrontation into a discussion by taking a soft approach and redirecting the conversation. Just ask the person what their opinion is, what their thoughts are, or if they can think of a solution to the problem that the two of you are currently having.

You may not agree with what they come up with, but that approach allows you to push toward a closer middle ground. You can then say, “Well, what about this option instead?”

Just acknowledging the way another person feels can be such a powerful thing. So many people feel like they don’t have much control or power in their lives. If you can find a way to offer it to others, it can really help you find peaceful resolutions to problems and arguments that you may come across.

So many people feel they need to fight to protect themselves or have their way because other people either don’t listen to them or even care to try to hear them out.

Give that to others. It can make a huge difference in your own peace of mind and quality of thoughts.

Still not sure how to be less confrontational? Speak to a therapist today who can walk you through the process. Simply click here to connect with one of the experienced therapists on BetterHelp.com.

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