Confrontation is an unavoidable consequence of having relationships. Anytime two people have a difference of opinion, there is a confrontation. Hopefully, they will work with you to understand so both can resolve the difference. Resolve, without new understanding, does not promote the learning process of a relationship. Conflict raises the opportunity to learn about each other through proper confrontation. What is proper confrontation? Confrontation that exposes something unknown or unacknowledged in the relationship without assessing a value judgement until full understanding of the issue. We are talking about communication in the most vulnerable form - expressing ideas and feelings that the person who holds them has owned. So let us define a confrontation as, "The logical and emotional expressions of differences of opinion."

» Whom you can confront depends on one issue. What level of relationship do you desire with the other person? If you have no desire for a relationship with a person, no need to engage in a confrontation. If you do desire a growing relationship or maintaining a level that already exists, confrontation is valuable and worthwhile.

» When we are relating to people who are close to us, we want respect for our opinions. We also need to respect others for their opinions. If we are not listening to their opinions, we are not learning what they think or who they are. Our thinking should be an expression of who we are; by listening we learn of differences. (See Charlton Identity Graphic)  By discussion of differences we are appropriately engaged in confrontation. As we resolve the confrontation, we show deference for the other person. We can always move from difference to deference by listening and learning. You do not have to accept the other person’s opinion as right to show deference.

» Typically, we resolve the difference in understanding the other opinion and both opinions can coexist without trouble. Other situations do have significant and inconsistent differences and they must make a choice between the two. This is the time for both views to be expressed with conviction. The learning process should reveal the truth in the issue and both parties can agree to the truth. Until confrontation reveals truth for both people, no real resolution of the issue will occur.

» In looking at the rules for confrontation, several points need understanding.

Under all sharing situations, the need is to be closer. If a problem develops between two people, they cannot be closer. Moving the problem out of the way will allow them to be closer. Look at sharing as moving problems out of the way by sharing understanding and making changes that will allow positive interchanges in the future. This sharing is actually showing respect and trust.

Rules for Confrontation

The information in this font is from: Ruth Wilson, M.A., M.F.C.C. #9910
Christian Emotional Expression Therapy Center
527 East Micheltorena Street, Santa Barbara, CA 93103 (805) 965-5903

The information in this font is commentary on Wilson's work.


Rules for Sharing Anger:

Attitude: Respect and Trust (I want to be closer to you.)

Argument Definition: Equal exchange of negative information.

The equal exchange of negative information is how both people can express their point of view to the point that the other person can express their point of view accurately, even if they do not agree. This may take one person more time than the other. An argument is communication under hurt feelings of rejection. We need an exchange of negative information so the negative information and feelings no longer impede the progress of the relationship. Complete, accurate expression of anger is the goal.  "Equal exchange" is achieved once both people have expressed all their heart and both have reached a point of zero to say.

1. Maintain equality: No winner or loser. No one wins when team members are fighting to be right. Both members win when both understand the other person’s point of view. Giving each other the opportunity to expose thoughts and feelings helps you understand who the person really is.
2. Fight safely: No violence. Violence is actual physical contact, threatening tone of voice, threatening words, and threatening physical posture. Violence closes off the other person from communicating and the positive confrontation cannot occur.
3. Be reasonable: No hysterics. Hysterics generally are a passive type of violence. Neither person is communicating accurate information when hysterics occur. This is also a message from the unreasonable person that they are not interested in hearing the true concerns of the other person or that the other person did not hear them.
4. Be clean and sober: No drugs. While alcohol and other drugs are usually considered distorting substances, they are not the only distorting substances that confound communication. You must also be aware of caffeine, nicotine, energizing therapeutic drugs, and adrenaline. Once adrenaline gets into the communication, we reduce objectivity and the outcome is not equality. Once adrenaline or any other distorting substance gets into the argument, stop and delay the end until you are responsible, in every way, for what you say or do.
5. Be brief: Limit all fights to five minutes.

Limiting all fights to five (5) minutes is a challenge. The following pattern will help make the confrontation work:
A. Someone agrees to keep time.
B. Each person talks in a give and take format, expressing only that which relates to the reason for the argument.
C. At the end of five minutes, both parties agree to a follow-up session of five minutes no sooner than 55 minutes nor later than 10 hours later.
D. Follow steps A through C until the argument leads to complete understanding.
E. Always show up for any scheduled session of arguing.

6. Let go: No grudges. Once both parties understand the other’s position, there is reason for coming together and comforting each other. To move toward comforting shows that they did not intend harm in participating in the argument. The coming together should occur when possible for both parties and prior to the close of the day.

Rules for Sharing HURT

Attitude: Respect and Trust (I want to be closer to you.)

1. Accept responsibility for my hurt: Don't blame others. You own your own hurt or pain. No one else can feel it like you do. You can see others as responsible if they deliberately inflicted the hurt, but they still do not actually feel your pain. Until you tell them how it hurts, they will have no true understanding of what you are feeling nor have a reason to change behavior.
2. Hurt is a normal part of life: Don't indulge in self pity. We all are hurt at some time. You are not unique because you hurt. Pain is a useful tool in God’s hands to bring us to examine a situation and make changes that will improve how we deal with others. If no pain occurred, we would do the wrong thing without any reason to change behavior except our love for each other. That is a good reason but falls to the side in many circumstances.
3. Look hurt, sound hurt, use hurt words: Don't distort hurt. If you are hurt and do not look, sound, or speak hurt, the other person will not understand that you do hurt. Often, we say, "I’m O.K.," when we are dying inside. This actually covers our opportunity to be understood for who we really are, deep inside.
4. Allow hurt to run its course: Don't cut off hurt. If you cut the hurt off, the other person may get the idea doing what hurt you is OK because you were not significantly hurt. Allowing the hurt to run its course will also allow you to set priorities for what you will allow in the relationship as the relationship grows.
5. Hurt is quiet and peaceful and full of God: Don't exaggerate hurt. God created us to feel hurt. We call it negative. It takes negatives for us to understand positives. To exaggerate the hurt would defy what God planned for the hurt to accomplish in disciplining us as His children. Obviously, someone else intending to hurt us is not God disciplining us. That type of hurt is just simply wrong. Spurs in a horse’s side train him to move a certain way. Once the training is complete, the horse does not need the spurs and the horse is more useful to the rider.
6. Hurt helps us to understand and to be close to each other: Don't use hurt to punish others. Understanding each other is a great complement. If we use hurt to manipulate someone, we only show that we believe we have the power to control someone beyond their willingness to be controlled. Full understanding will allow for greater knowledge and the wonderful process of showing respect and trust. God makes us to grow in relationships and by that, glorify God.

Rules for Sharing LOVE

Attitude: Respect and Trust (I want to be closer to you.)

1. Accept the other person: Don't have an agenda. God makes love to give away. When we use love to promote an agenda, sin is distorting God’s great purpose in relationships. Acceptance of the person, and not the sin, is a goal we all need to achieve.
2. Give love freely: Don't use love to manipulate. Using love to manipulate others is also sinful. When two people trust each other, the desire for manipulation disappears. Manipulation in a relationship suggests that true growth does not exist and love is far from freely given.
3. Give love abundantly: Don't measure love. If you measure love, what do you use as a measure. God made us to give love away and to be replenished by Love Himself. Both people in a relationship need to give all the love that is appropriate in that relationship and then allow God to replenish them.
4. Put love into words: Don't assume love. Love is both words and actions. Like communication, without one or the other, the love does not provide the intended purpose. Assuming love can be a misleading experience and expectations usually put pressure on the relationship. Have no reason to love other than God’s command and your willful decision to love.
5. Be specific and elaborate: Don't be general in praise. Being general with love is like eating meat without salt, cake without sugar, or room-temperature milk. Specific things show that you notice. Noticing means that you care to exert energy into the communication. Exerting energy means you care enough to give. Giving is consistent with love as God does.
6. Risk being enthusiastic and joyful: Don't be nonchalant. By being nonchalant, you risk saying "I do not care much." If that is the true message you want to convey, just go ahead and say so. Love has energy. I believe that it is God’s love that holds even the nucleus of an atom together. If your love has power, you will accomplish much for each other and you will glorify God to the greatest extent.

Congratulations on loooking at all NINE lessons for Relationship Management101. Here are links back to the lessons:

Relationships Communication Self Image Love Technicolor Feelings Technicolor Anger Forgiveness Trust