I was talking with a patient’s family member this morning on the phone and she told me that the patient was someone who had been emotionally abused by her Dad and her husband. As a result she had learned to acquiesce when faced with confrontation.
Wow, I could relate to that. That is exactly how I handled confrontation during most of my life. I just avoided it. I was scared of it and I wouldn’t confront someone until I was at the point of anger and then not very well at all. There were many times this avoidance of confrontation affected my parenting skills. I hated to see my kids cry so I was soft on discipline at times. It is a miracle they all turned out as well as they did.
I haven’t had good role models in this department. My mother does not know how to handle confrontation without screaming and at times belittling the other person, but she never got to the point where she got physically abusive. My ex was the same as my mother, he would scream and yell. At times he totally lost it and got physical with his abuse. He always had the impression that his opinion was right and other people’s opinion was wrong and being that I knew he wasn’t God, I begged to differ on occasion.
But alas, I am better than that nonsense. I don’t confront with screaming or calling people names and I sure don’t choke people as my ex choked me. I just avoid confrontation.
Is avoiding a situation that is confrontational really the best way to handle things though?
I have come to the conclusion that at times when you have tried to confront a person again and again and they just don’t listen that walking away may be the only option left for you to take. Then they wonder why you walked away but if they had been listening they would have known.
But what if they do listen? What if it is important to both of you to settle your differences. I believe there may be a method to handle confrontation where both parties feel as if they have won.
I used this method recently when dealing with one of my corporate bosses. She had asked me why I couldn’t teach a caregiver how to do a daily dressing change on one of my patients. I told her that was a good question. Then I went into how complex and fragile the case was and why I thought it was imperative that I be the one who did the daily dressing changes until I had stabilized the patient. She agreed and asked me if she could enter my response into the chart. I said, “Sure, that would be great.”
In essence I had a confrontation which did not include any demeaning comments, no anger and no one played the victim. We both won.
How did I have a confrontation where both sides won?
I first acknowledged that the other person had a good point and gave them affirmation for their viewpoint. Then I countered with logic and good reasoning, trying hard to get them to see my viewpoint. I did not attack them personally or attack their opinion. I validated their opinion first and then I proposed my evidence to try to sway their opinion to my viewpoint.
In essence, in my business it is not me or my corporate boss who won, we merely came to an agreement. It was really the patient who won.
Doing daily dressing changes is a lot to ask from any nurse but I knew it was the best thing for the patient. I am very blessed to work for a company who realizes that what is in the best interest of the patient is also what is in the best interest of the company. Overall the company and my patient both won because of the method that was used. This method allowed me to handle a confrontation in a respectful manner that prevented it from becoming a conflict.
In a conflict there is a winner and a loser, in a confrontation which uses mutual respect as a platform, all parties involved can win.