Some people have a fear of snakes, spiders, butterflies, height, fires, and some people have a fear of confrontation. Everyone’s afraid of something. And even though confrontation may not be as life-threatening as heights, fires or snakes, it’s still a very valid fear that can render people immobile.
I’ve never met anyone who said they love confrontation, and I don’t blame them. If someone is confrontational and enjoys being that way, then they probably enjoy attention, being heard, and like drama-filled situations, and these people have probably been on shows like the Bad Girls Club.
Just look at the definition of the word itself according to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, “a situation in which people, groups, etc., fight, oppose, or challenge each other in an angry way.” People wouldn’t generally seek out these types of situations unless they’re trying to prove something, or unless they just like firing up the drama.
Reasons people fear confrontation
Fear is a part of a person’s survival instinct. If we weren’t afraid of pain or heights or huge, hungry animals, our entire species would be done for. However, though confrontation may not be crucial for one’s survival, the fear of it can be embedded into a person’s mind through their experiences in the past. So if you’re trying to understand why you or someone else is so afraid of facing off, the following reasons may provide you with a bit of insight.
#1 You fear confrontation due to your upbringing. Think about how animals are abused and taken to shelters, and then after a long time and rehabilitation, they slowly aren’t afraid to let a stranger pet them. If you grew up in a household with any type of abuse, whether verbal, physical, mental, etc., and you constantly heard people yelling and screaming at each other, it’s safe to say it was probably a miserable, horrible, scary experience that you still have nightmares about today.
If you’ve had something traumatic in your life happen to you that involved yelling, fighting, negativity, and anything that caused you pain and made you want to run and hide, it’s understandable why you fear confrontation. You may associate any type of confrontation, no matter how civil, with your experiences in the past. This causes you to avoid the situation through any means possible. [Read: 8 daily reminders to keep you moving forward]
#2 You fear confrontation because you fear failure. You are afraid of being wrong or failing, especially when it’s front of other people. When we are angry, and fighting with people, we tend to lash out and say things off the top of our heads that we later regret, because what we said was stupid or incorrect, and it ended up making you feel like the biggest idiot in the world.
When a verbal fight breaks out, it’s easy to let your mouth get ahead of your head. And when this happens, you may inadvertently find yourself saying everything you thought you’d never say out loud. Couple this embarrassment with being proven wrong or being shot down, and that’s motivation enough to scurry away from confrontation before it even starts!
#3 You’re afraid you might not be liked. Nobody goes out of their way to be disliked by other people. Even if you’re not too big on the idea of making everyone like you, there’s still a part of you that makes you hope that no one ends up outright hating you.
Sadly, confrontations may sometimes rub people the wrong way, no matter how professionally or how calmly you go about it. You may not be afraid of confronting someone, per se, but you may be scared that after you confront someone, they’ll like you a whole lot less. [Read: 12 ways to avoid a first impression catastrophe]
#4 You’re outnumbered. Perhaps if you had to confront other people as a group, you wouldn’t be as scared. But when it’s just you against a whole bunch of people, that fear can be pretty hard to shake off! Standing up for yourself is hard enough in front of people who are looking to shoot you down, but trying to stand up for yourself while arguing with a group of irrational people is probably even scarier to you.
#5 You’re not confident in delivering. Many of us can be great at one subject and horrible at another. If you’re a great writer, but a terrible public speaker, it’s okay. It’s quite common to meet people who are very adept at what they do, but when asked to stand in front of an audience to explain the same thing, they’d bolt in a snap.
So if you are someone who is usually very level-headed and great at thinking through things, but you fear having to stand up and talk out loud about them, it makes sense why you wouldn’t want to have to deal with a situation that involves confrontation. You like to think about things, process what’s going on, and if you get thrown into a situation that is hostile, you probably can’t use your logic the way you normally would.
#6 You speak before listening. You know yourself well enough to know that your mouth can sometimes get carried away, especially when emotions are involved. The idea of confrontation brings to mind those times when you simply had to let your emotions out, and you spared no time listening to the arguments of the other party. In turn, it just made you look like a loudmouthed drama queen who doesn’t know how to listen to the person they’re confronting.
So if you are someone who has a personality similar to this, it’s also probably why you fear having to confront someone. You would rather just not talk at all than risk saying things you don’t even mean, but they fly off your tongue anyway. [Read: 10 tips to avoid being rude in any situation]
When you know why you’re afraid of confrontation, you can find different means of remedying and eliminating your fear. For instance, you can practice speaking in public to help alleviate the anxiety. You can seek therapy to prevent your abusive past from affecting your present. You can even try to practice ways of confronting people without hurting your feelings.
Though confrontation is never really comfortable, they can be inevitable at times. The best way to get through this is to pinpoint the reason you’re afraid of it, and work your way up from there.
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