Relationships are hard work. Whenever two sinful people come together, someone is bound to get hurt. But how do we confront people who hurt us? Can’t we just slide it under the rug and move on? Or is there a better, healthier way to deal with conflict?
Very few people like confrontation—but when done well, the resulting conversation can lead to a stronger, closer relationship moving forward. If you’ve been hurt, offended, or wronged by someone else, it is in your best interest to address the issue for the sake of the relationship and your own well-being.
But how do we come back after betrayal, emotional despair, and hurt feelings?
Someone you trusted has taken advantage of you, and you feel you have every right to hold it against them forever. On the flipside, part of you also wants to ignore the whole mess and go back to the way things were before.
You can’t hold on to bitterness forever. That’s like drinking poison and waiting for the other person to die. Bitterness and resentment just hinder us from growing in Christ and moving on with our lives.
But we can’t just pretend as if nothing happened. If we value the relationship, we need to address the source of the issue—no matter how awkward it may be.
After deciding that confrontation is necessary and the best option, it’s wise to realize that there are good ways and bad ways to approach it.
What NOT to Do During a Confrontation with Someone:
1) Do NOT become passive aggressive because you think they should just notice that you’re mad.
2) Do NOT seek revenge or retaliate.
3) Do NOT tell yourself you’re going to “wait for the opportune moment,” then end up never bringing it up. Avoidance only drags the issue out and increases the hurt. It’s never a good time for confrontation, but sometimes are better than others.
4) Do NOT embarrass them in public by bringing up what they did.
Instead, you should:
1) Set a time to sit down and have a conversation. Ask them out for coffee or see if you can swing by their place.
2) Consider writing a letter or note cards in advance so you can say exactly what you want to say.
3) Do your best to stay calm. Avoid shouting or speaking with an aggressive tone. Try to present your feelings in a way that does not make the other person feel like you’re attacking them.
Before you set up a time to have a conversation, make sure your heart is in the right place. The confrontation needs to come from a place of love, understanding, and grace. We’ve all hurt other people (intentionally and unintentionally). Try to remember this as you begin chatting with the other person.
If you think they hurt you unintentionally, make sure you let them know in the beginning. Your discussion will likely be more fruitful if you don’t come across as accusations.
Be honest about your feelings, but try to speak in the first person. For example, say something like, “I was hurt when this happened,” or “I felt this way when …” instead of pointing a finger directly at them: “You did this to me,” or “You always say things like ….”
If you approach it in a gracious way, the confronted party will likely appreciate your honesty so they can avoid doing the same thing in the future. Nobody wants to hurt their loved ones, either intentionally or unintentionally.
If they genuinely care about you, your feelings, and your relationship, they will be receptive—maybe not immediately but in good time.
What if They Don’t Agree?
You finally muster up enough courage to confront the person who hurt you, and you do your best to present your thoughts with grace and compassion—and they react badly. Your heart starts beating faster, your cheeks flush, heat rises to your face, and you totally regret your decision to ever bring it up.
Questions crowd your mind: “Am I the one who’s wrong? Did I make a big deal out of nothing? Did I just ruin our friendship forever?”
If this happens, take a deep breath and try to collect your thoughts. Remember, whatever happened to take you to that point was significant enough for you to address it.
Take time to listen to what the other person is saying. What reasons are they giving for thinking you’re wrong? Are their points valid, or are they just being defensive and trying to shift the blame?
If this is the case, you have a couple options. If the other person refuses to see your point of view or acknowledge your perspective, it might be time to cut your losses and move on. It’s almost impossible to have a healthy relationship with someone who takes advantage of you by refusing to consider your concerns.
If moving on is not an option, consider seeking Christian counseling in Spokane. A trained Christian counselor in Spokane will be able to help you work through your emotions and develop a plan of action moving forward if you still have to interact with the offending party. If the other person refuses to go to counseling with you, try going to a session alone. Talking with a neutral party will give you an opportunity to express your concerns and obtain guidance and advice about how to reconcile with the other person.
In some cases in life, we just need to agree to disagree — however, in instances where a person has been hurt by another, it’s important to restore the relationship in a mutually beneficial manner.
Confronting others is not fun, but it is necessary—and in the long run, it will be worth it.
Both photos from unsplash.com, CC0 Public Domain License
“What to do?” courtesy of Jez Timms; “Let’s Work it Out,” courtesy of Toa Heftiba