Just hearing the word gives me a bad feeling. I start to feel anxious and uneasy.
I am not at all comfortable with confrontation.
I typically consider myself a confident person, but for whatever reason the idea of confronting someone else often intimidates me. This idea came up recently at my internship. Earlier this week, I left my field placement feeling frustrated with a particular staff member who I just don’t believe is right for her job. I have had this perspective for a while now, but the other day I simply reached my breaking point. After talking with my supervisor, she posed the idea of me sitting down with this staff member and her to voice my concerns. Ultimately, I would be confronting this staff member in an objective way.
My reaction to this idea? I instantly felt anxious and fearful. It’s not that I don’t stand by my beliefs though. My anxiety is due to the fact that I would be confronting this particular individual regarding her negative behaviors and attitude. My field supervisor picked up on my reaction immediately. She then explained to me that this could actually be a learning experience for me and an opportunity for professional growth. After she said this I couldn’t help but think about it more.
What makes the idea of confrontation so scary to me?
Why should I be intimidated by someone who I believe is not doing her job to the best of her ability?
Why do I doubt my confidence and level of professionalism when it comes time for confrontation?
More and more questions like this went through my head (and still remain with me now). Another thought that I began to consider was what I would tell the clients with whom I work in a similar situation. Would I instruct them to stand up for their beliefs? Absolutely. Would I encourage them to respectfully disagree and state their opinion in a calm manner? Definitely. Would I tell them to avoid confrontation? No. I would instruct them to express their feelings in positive way without avoiding the problem.
I soon began to realize that if I don’t say something I won’t be following my own advice that I would give to others around me. I also feel like I would just hold onto my feelings of frustration, which would not be a healthy way of dealing with them. Despite the anxiety I may feel, I think I need to take advantage of this opportunity. I need to get used to confrontation. At some point in my career I may be in a leadership role so now is the time to learn–and grow. Like my supervisor told me today, I don’t seem to have a difficulty with confronting clients during therapy sessions so why am I going to avoid confrontation in this situation. This situation can be a learning experience for me in more ways than one.
Tell me: How do you feel about confrontation? Any advice on ways to handle this situation?