I have never been good at dealing with confrontation. It’s something I get from my Mother. I am a very sensitive person and I don’t sit comfortably with any form of aggressive challenge. Thankfully, it is very rare for me to experience these occurrences in my life, particularly in the workplace. It is very different when it comes to me utilising my customer service skills for something that is not about me personally. However, recently, I found myself in a situation where I was dealing with confrontation and this time it was personal.
Pride in my Work
I take a pride in my work. I am very passionate about what I do and I would like to think that this is reflected in my professionalism and dedication to different roles. I am someone who takes action when things are not as they should be. Feedback is a staple part of my work life and I am confident in doing this. I was therefore, somewhat surprised recently when my behaviour was challenged by a manager, as talking over him and displaying inappropriate behaviour. I felt like a naughty schoolboy who had been sent to see the Headmaster. I am quite certain that I am being falsely accused and find myself in a position of having to challenge the manager concerned and in turn am dealing with confrontation.
Agree to Disagree
So what happened? How did it come to this? Quite simply, I dared to say that I did not agree on something that my manager said. He repeated his comment, so I said that we should agree to disagree. This was apparently unacceptable. I was asked to see him and was taken to a room for a dressing down. I didn’t get into trouble at school let alone at work. At 43 years of age, I found myself being told off and I felt humiliated by the experience. My voice started to tremble as my mouth became as dry as the Sahara desert. I struggled to formulate a sentence and requested that I be given time to reflect on what I was being told. I left the room and for the first time ever, I cried in the workplace.
Reflection and Support
The following 24 hours were very stressful for me. I woke up in the middle of the night, going over and over the events of that afternoon. I started to question myself. Had I behaved as suggested? Was I aggressive? I couldn’t recall that as the version of events. In fact, I had gone to the manager, because I had identified an issue and was seeking a solution. I was getting more and more upset and anxiety started to creep in.
The next day at work, I decided to talk to my colleagues about it. I wanted to know if they felt that I was like my manager was suggesting. The overwhelming support from them and positive encouragement that I am the opposite of aggressive, reassured me immensely. I knew that I had to pursue the matter and seek a resolution to be able to move forward. Reflection and time would be needed.
I am now preparing for my goal of resolution. I have to come up with a game plan and key to this, is to take my time. I do not cherish the thought of being face to face with this manager, so I must prepare myself. I need to hold my head up high, remain confident and maintain my professionalism. I have researched what my options are, through consultation with colleagues and my union. Now I am researching on how to deal with my natural response to confrontation. This has led me to realise that I actually already have a pretty good idea on what I should do. It’s what I would say to someone asking me for advice on being in the same situation. Things like: –
- Take a deep breath, particularly if comments are upsetting you or making you angry.
- Breathe slower, allowing yourself time to think and compose a measured response rather than reaction.
- Be conscious of your own tone and pitch. Behaviour breeds behaviour.
Where possible, plan ahead and outline on paper the points you want to make. Practise saying it to yourself or to a partner or friend. This will familiarise yourself with how you are going to put your points across and what language you will use.
- Stand by your beliefs, whilst remaining respectful of the other party’s right to their opinion, no matter how much you might disagree with them.
- Be prepared to accept valid points made by the other party.
Finding a Positive
As I go through the necessary process of facing this confrontation, I am looking for a positive. I want to grow from this experience. Dealing with confrontation is definitely a weakness and something I have always avoided. I am not saying that I will actively seek confrontation but I will develop my ability to handle myself in similar situations in the future. In doing so, I will need to self-reflect and learn about myself from the outside and how others perceive me. For this, I am very grateful.
About the author: Stuart Dickson’s passion for personal development began in September 2013, when he joined a Network Marketing Company. Part of his development is increasing his spirituality and the many ways of doing this. His first blog, Happy Monday People was born from a project that came about from his personal development journey facebook.com/Happylifepeople