It’s inevitable. Whether at home or work, someone close to us eventually lets us down. Perhaps we get angry or hurt. It comes with the territory of personal relationships. What can you do? Should you confront the person or stay quiet?
The problem with staying quiet is the likelihood of carrying around resentment that affects your interactions with the person and eventually erodes the relationship. For instance, maybe you don’t return their calls, emails, or texts. And you wait for the moment when you might unleash your anger at what they did. So, how can you openly and honestly express yourself without jeopardizing the relationship?
When a close friend or loved one lets you down, confronting them effectively can actually bring you closer to them. After all, you’re free to express yourself, which lets the other person know you better and more fully. At the same time, you become open to listening to them, which lets them know you better as well.
Here’s how you can effectively confront a friend or loved one who’s let you down.
First, determine if you genuinely trust this person. It’s not always so easy to tell. So, I like to use what I call the “trust test” from Brené Brown described in this post. Because as long as you really trust your friend or loved one, then, according to Brené Brown, you can assume the most generous thing about their words, intentions, and behaviors.
As Brené Brown describes here:
If I screw up, say something, forget something, you will make a generous assumption and say, “Yesterday was my mom’s one year anniversary of her death, and it was really tough for me, and I talked to you about it last month. And I really was hoping that you would’ve called, but I know you care about me. I know you think it’s a big deal. So I wanted to let you know that I’ve been thinking about that.”
The important thing is first, before saying anything, pause and get clear on what you really want to achieve. For instance, “what I really want is to express how I feel about what happened and to be understood.”
Then keep to just the facts. Follow up the facts with your version worded somewhat tentatively to stay open to the other person’s view.
For example, using Brené Brown’s example above, “yesterday was my mom’s one year anniversary of her death. A few weeks ago, I told you how tough I thought it would be for me that day and you didn’t call. And so, it seemed to me like …” This allows you to share your experience and then ask the other person what their thoughts on it are.
It’s not easy to confront someone when we’re angry or upset with something they did. That’s why it’s so important to take that first moment to pause (and breathe) and focus on the outcome we want. With regular practice, it’s likely we will begin to experience deeper and more rewarding relationships.
Like this post? Sign up to receive our newsletter and receive more tips, updates, advice, and inspiration right to your inbox.