Why Responding to Conflict by Confrontation Is Not Healthy
Ever got into a fight, and your cortisol shoots right through the roof, and all you can feel is your heart racing, your palm sweating, and you feel helpless?
Confrontations have a way of escalating the situation and create communication breakdowns in future conflicts. Confrontation can also lead to aggressive actions or avoiding of difficult conversation if both side do not wish to face the issue head on.
Amygdala hijack – That’s what it’s called. That’s when your brain reacts to psychological stressors as if there is physical danger.
With your fight-or-flight response and that possibly wouldn’t result in the most loving nor constructive conversations. We also included methods by which you can either help yourself or help your partner get back to baseline.
Confrontation Leads to Escalation of Situation
An uncontrolled confrontation approach leads to an escalation situation where you feel fear, tension, and anger. Those emotions do not allow the most rational decisions, causing relationship conflict.
In a heated situation like that, even asking to pause might trigger the other party. Nevertheless, a pause might help you be at your best, to support one another. An agreement had to before future conflicts allow a timeout when a phrase is utter (e.g. timeout, one moment please) by any party, and the pause is nothing personal. You can choose to set a break time that is acceptable to both before going to your individual safe spaces to calm down, i.e., 15 minutes, 1 hour.
Confrontation Leads to Unclear Communication
When there are unresolved conflict, the result can be communication breakdowns that hamper progress and even lead to further conflict. In order for confrontation to produce clear communication, both parties must be willing and able openly share their thoughts with each other.
Offer clear communication with boundaries by saying something along the lines of:
- This is important to me, and I would like to talk about it. At the moment though, we seem too emotional, and I would like to pause.
- Can we hit pause? We are deviating far from our true selves, and I wish to be in a state where I can be kind and loving.
- Let’s pause so that we can return to a state where we’re both calm, and then we can talk.
Confrontations Lead To Aggressive Actions
Confrontation can bring aggressive action like raising of voices or abusive language due to an increased tension. Regulating your breath is one of the most effective ways to bring your heart rate back down to normal. Practice conscious rhythmic breathing using the 4-7-8 breathing technique is great for regulating anxiety.Place one hand on your belly, the other on your chest, take in deep breaths in for 4 seconds, hold the breath for 7 seconds, and exhale for 8 seconds. Do this for as long as you feel is necessary. There is no set rule on timing.
Confrontations Lead To Avoiding Of Difficult Conversations
Therefore, check-in with your partner after both of you had time to cool down with a simple “How can I help you?”. Everyone has different love languages and different conflict resolution styles.
Some people value a hug, and need that to feel better, and supported. Others might want to talk and resolve the issue.
Perhaps ask, “Is this a good time to speak with you on that issue?” to gauge whether they’re in the right mental space to resolve the issue or not. If not, then ask when would be a good or acceptable time to do so.
Below are a list of items to handle conflicts, even with confrontations-
Always eat prior
Hangry is a real thing. In the absence of food, your blood sugar might get too low, which then triggers cortisol (stress hormone) and adrenaline (fight-or-flight hormone) fires. That is not a situation we want.
So, to allow you and your partner the best chance of a peaceful resolution, do ensure both have eaten, and both have had a relatively stress-free time prior, before re-opening the chat.
Hug for at least 2 minutes
This might sound ridiculous to some of you, but physical touch is an important component in relationships, especially for those whose love language is Physical Touch.
Hugging each other for at least 2 minutes can help you and your partner feel connected again, and prep yourselves to enter a space where loving communication and peaceful resolution can take place.
Keep language neutral
When resolving a conflict, be sure to keep your language as kosher as possible. This means avoiding making accusations and making things personal. Instead, talk about the issue, and if you wish, share your feelings.
For example, “I have been feeling neglected lately. Do you think we can spend Friday night together, and let’s plan a movie night?”
What not to say in this scenario: “You haven’t been home and you don’t love me at all. This is just terrible, and I’m sick of this.”
Play up the things you love
One great way to diffuse tension is to focus on and highlight the positives, more than the negatives, to set the tone of the conversation.
For example, “I love spending time with you, and every time we do, it makes me happy. Shall we schedule a date night on Friday?”
Understanding Love Languages
If you know your partner’s love language, this would give you a great edge when tense scenarios arrive. If your partner loves physical touch, hold the person’s hand whilst resolving the conflict. If words of affirmation matter to your partner, praise him/her for something positive. Lift one another. If acts of service are your partner’s language, even taking them their favorite beverage before the chat begins can always help you earn some brownie points!
Any relationship requires hard work, but it is not impossible to build a successful relationship. It is the hope that this arsenal of tools has helped you inch closer to a happy marriage!
Efforts have been made to get the information as accurate and updated as possible. If you found any incorrect information with credible source, please send it via the contact us form
Deborah Choo loves discussing relationships, platonic or not, as that remains at the heart of human existence. She draws upon learnings from couples’ counselling, and continues to celebrate an incredible journey of growth.