I’m really rubbish at confrontation. I find conflict unsettling and don’t like to upset people so I prefer to take a softly, softly approach. When I was a child, I was that kid in the playground who tried to be a peacemaker. I was the classic ‘Can’t we all just get along?’ kid. God, I probably even said that once or twice. Even now, I’ll try to find a less confrontational way of dealing with things if I can. There are some things that I let fester away at me and that really irritate me but that I’ll put aside dealing with because the idea of a confrontation is too stressful. When I think about it, the time and energy I spend being silently furious and the imaginary, snarky conversations that I have while I mull things over are probably worse that just getting things out in the open and dealing with it.
Generally speaking being a ‘soft touch’ (which I’ve been called before with reference to dealing with tricky kids at school – grrrr) has actually served my pretty well, though. I figure that everyone has some sort of stuff going on, either now or in the past, and that we can’t really go in all guns blazing without knowing the full picture. It’s hard to get the full picture from being that blazing gun, especially when it comes to young people.
That being said, confrontation is something I wish I was better at because actually, some things need to be dealt with, and dealt with directly and quickly and without any fear of hurting people’s feelings. Some ideas or actions are simply not acceptable. I can do it if I really need to but I tend to get myself worked up about it and have a night of tossing and turning beforehand.
Anyway, I was watching the memorial service for Helen Kelly (here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eZdpUZd2_XY if you’re interested) and there were two things that almost all of the speakers commented on. One was how much she loved and respected people and the other was how determined she was to be brave and confront the people and ideas that she felt needed to be changed. A number of people reflected on the fact that she made them braver and more able to stand up for the things that they believed in. She wasn’t scared to be unpopular or to shake things up if it was in pursuit of the right thing.
What amazing things to be remembered for. Be brave, stand up, be heard, be kind. Something to aspire to, I think.