“Speak when you are angry and you will make the best speech you will ever regret”
Critical confrontations are tools for resolving broken promises, violated expectations and bad behavior. As a man, you will be expected to showcase your leadership skills, within the relationship, by conducting tough dialogue, at tough times, that produces not only an agreeable solution but one that strengthens the respect, trust and value that the two of you hold for each other all while doing so.
Relationships are about engaging each other…
Most people avoid conflict because they lack both the will, and more importantly the confident ability to successfully navigate the treacherous waters that conflicts lay in. They more or less accurately assess their lack of abilities for the situation at hand. They are simply out of their depths and fear any action taken will worsen the situation. Unfortunately doing nothing, does nothing to solve the issue and reinforces the notion that you’ve just provided tacit approval for the issue at hand. By conducting critical confrontations for minor breaches of boundaries, beginning with friends, family, co-workers and associates, where the threat of loss or intimidation is low, one can develop not only the essential skill of establishing boundaries, but emotional toughness, self-respect and self-esteem that comes from having done so, that will pay massive dividends when dealing with a loved one, in a highly emotionally charged, invested and at risk situation.
Stop keeping the peace at your expense…
Learn that some conflict is healthy. Underlying tension and conflict within a relationship indicates a required communication point, which isn’t unhealthy, but left un-communicated it will grow into an unhealthy element and situation, which will poison the relationship. Understanding your unwillingness to engage in such a process can be terribly telling about you, the woman you’re with and the health of the relationship. Do you just lack the ability and confidence to conduct such a conversation? Is she incapable of mutually navigating this conversation with you? Is this issue a lesser of a greater one you’re also not facing? Failing to do so is an indication of a lack of self-respect; it undermines the relationship and does not reflect that you respect the woman you’re with to conduct one.
The Event Horizon
The events that leads to a loss of trust and affects the core of the relationship and rarely are singular events, but arise from a series of circumstances. These events will occur spontaneously and in situations in which will be awkward and socially inappropriate to engage in fully. It ultimately will be a huge mistake not to take this up. It will be a judgment call as to when to do so based upon the nature and maturity of your relationship, but keep in mind that too often much is lost in the delay. At the very least throwing in a ‘flag’ of acknowledgement of displeasure ‘Babe, we’re going to need to discuss this in private later…’ calls not only attention to it appropriately, without getting into it at that moment, but serves as a call back to when you do discuss it.
1st Time-it’s just an event, a onetime occurrence.
2nd Time– has now become a pattern as its repeated and tacit approval was given on the first one.
3rd Time– it’s now case-law for your relationship and the pattern has been accepted.
Hazardous Half Minute
The first few seconds of the interaction sets the tone for everything that follows. How you say something is vastly more important that what you say. Choose your tone, words, body language and setting carefully. In a very basic way this is an introduction, of a critical issue, but like all introductions first impressions are lasting ones…
People need to feel safe. As a man your job it to create that safety and protection, which means you respect them as an individual and you share mutual purpose. Ultimately it’s about the relationship, not the behavior. You can get past what happened, but not what this does to the relationship and respecting yourself through your boundaries. Make sure she realizes that you are trying to protect and secure the relationship. Describe the broken promise, the gap in expectations, or affronting behavior. Ask open-ended questions; ‘why do you think it’s OK to do/act/behave/say etc.. that?’ ‘Is this how you value and respect me/our relationship in doing so?’ ‘How am I suppose to feel/take it etc, when you do “X”?’ Work jointly to discover the underlying reasons for the broken promises, violated expectations and bad behavior. Does your partner have the tools, skills needed to communicate an underlying issue? If not be willing to work together on developing them. This is about developing healthy relationship, not just changing behavior.
After the confrontation reaffirm your value of them and their role within the relationship, but check for their commitment and agreement to change. You might be surprised at what you’ll hear… and yes, this in itself is a promise that’s meant to be kept.
Lead by example
Critical confrontations are the essence of accountability, and the foundation to highly functioning relationships. It will lend credibility to you as a man and fortify your brand, whose integrity, intent, capabilities and results can be trusted and respected.