1. Why do I have so much trouble confronting people?

Oh, get over it. No, I'm just kidding. While we seem to return to temperament over and over again, it is true that outgoing Cholerics (see FAQs on Temperament and Personality) and critical Melancholies find it easier to confront than introverted Phlegmatics. Culture plays a large part in this too - in the easygoing south it may be more difficult to confront than in the Northeast. But in this we must be careful of stereotyping. This is true with gender as well - it may seem easier to confront if you are a man; the stereotype is that women are raised not to confront. Whatever the reason, confrontation is neither always easy nor comfortable.

2. What is the difference between confrontation and assertion?

Assertion is often defined as defending one's rights. However getting a clear picture of what are rights are can be difficult. When can I say "this far and no farther"? The assertiveness 'movement' gave rise in the 90s to teaching about boundaries. While dated, the book "When I say NO, I feel guilty" has good definitions of rights and some tools for asserting yourself. The whole "Boundaries" series of books can help an individual define where they must "draw the line".

Confrontation on the other hand is often thought of being in someone's face. Assertiveness often considers the feelings of the other while confrontation doesn't care about whose feelings are hurt.

3. When is confrontation really necessary?

Confrontation may never become an issue with you if you are able to "let things slide". The easygoing Phlegmatic temperament type most often puts up with the negative behavior of others without feeling the need to confront. Confrontation becomes necessary when you believe that your rights or your safety or your self-respect are being trampled under foot.

Confrontation can be thought of as "the last resort" when you've tried everything else you can think of and still feel you are being wronged.

4. Confrontation always leads to anger with me. How can I confront without becoming angry?

Confrontation almost always has a strong emotional element included. If you feel you've been mistreated and wronged, anger is bound to be a part of your reaction. And, in truth, anger may be appropriate if you feel confrontation is the only answer. The trick is to confront - that is to lay out your demands and the consequences - without letting anger control you. Use the anger to give energy to your approach. Remember that confrontation may be your "last resort" before ending a relationship, a job, or a friendship.

5. I don't really care if I upset the other person. Why should I be concerned about other's feelings?

If you take a couple of temperament tests you may find you are a choleric. Choleric's are hard driving, straightforward individuals who don't really care much about other's feelings. You may have grown up in an environment or culture where being bluntly honest was valued over the feelings of others. While you may not be concerned with another's feelings, it still makes sense to avoid alienating people if possible - and this involves taking feelings into account.

6. What is the best way to confront?

NOT when you're out of control or extremely angry. NOT on the spur of the moment. A confrontation should be thought through and planned. What are the consequences? Will I lose a job? A friend? Will I put myself in danger?

Planning to confront means writing down your thoughts and feelings. It also has a "consequences" section. In other words, you confront and offer consequences. If you don't stop this behavior then I'll be forced to (fill in the blank).

Be SURE you're not bluffing when you offer consequences and be sure you think through the possible outcomes before you confront someone.

If you have a situation you'd like a "second opinion" on, write me at the email address below.

Author's Bio: 

Hal Warfield is a teacher, writer, and business development specialist. Read his Personal Development posts at www.halwarfield.com. Read articles on Temperament & Personality at www.introvert.cc. Got a question? Write Hal at warfieldh@gmail.com.