This is the most common question I am asked by clients - so I thought we should address it.
Apparently people mistreat us, hurt us or tick us off quite frequently, because someone asks me for advice around confronting these people every single day.
I believe that if we learn how to appropriately and maturely respond to these situations with love and strength, we will be able to tackle most of life's problems.
1) Recognize it's usually not about you - Step back and don’t take it so personally
It may feel like an attack, it may sound like an attack... but most of the time... behind the attack is an issue or fear that is all about the person doing the attacking. (Whatever they are throwing at you - it is their stuff!)
What they are really saying is... "I don't feel loved" or "I'm scared that I'm not important!" If you can recognize what is going on in their world, you will be able to handle the issue with wisdom and maturity.
Try really hard to be un-offendable. Don't waste your time and energy defending yourself all the time. You don't need to. You are the same you regardless of what other people think, do or say. They really can't hurt you. Most of the time you could choose not to be offended.
Though there are times when it is important to speak your truth and confront someone in order to preserve a good relationship, if this is one of those times… keep reading.
2) See other people as the same as you - Don't cast good guys and bad guys!
We all have a tendency to see other people as different from us. Sometimes we see them as the bad guy and cast ourselves as the good guy. Other times we see them as better than us which lets us enjoy bad guy self pity drama. Neither of these is accurate and they lead to a lot of unnecessary drama.
It is important that before you address any issue, you step back from it and make sure you are seeing the other person as a flawed, scared, struggling human being who is not all good nor all bad - the same as you.
When you can see them as the same as you, you will see the situation accurately and with more compassion. People are generally doing the best they can with what they know. When they behave badly towards you, it's usually because they have a problem, not because you do.
To handle this issue with maturity and love means being able to see your own flaws too. If you are struggling with this step, get out a piece of paper; draw a line down the center and put their name on one side and yours on the other. Then write down, on their side, all the things you are bothered with them for. Get out all your gripes. Then go to your side and take each gripe and flip it. If you had written "They don't care about my feelings." - you should now write "I don't care about their feelings." Then go through each statement and ask yourself... "Is this ever still true?"
You are not perfect either. You sometimes get caught up in your own stuff and miss how your actions affect others. We all do. Just make sure that you see them as the same as you before you move forward to address the issue. This way you will handle it with love.
3) Trust that your value is not on the line.
Being offended is about defending yourself. The question is… do you really need to? Is your value on the line? It may feel like it is at times but in reality, your value, as a totally unique irreplaceable human being, is infinite and absolute. It is NEVER on the line. Nothing you do or don’t do and certainly nothing anyone else does will ever change it. You are safe.
You will be the same you, regardless of how anyone treats you. Before you address this issue and whether or not this other person values you… make sure you remember that even if they don’t… you are still the same amazing you. You have nothing to be afraid of.
4) Trust in your perfect journey.
Your life is providing you with perfect experiences every day to learn and grow. These experiences let you see things about yourself and teach you valuable lessons.
This experience with this person, is one of those perfect experiences.
What do you think it is here to teach you? What is it showing you about yourself that could help you to become a better you? It is not really about defending you… it is about teaching you something. What might it be here to teach you?
If you can figure that out, it will change how you respond. You may even be grateful for this situation and the other person who is in your life for this perfect reason. You may choose to love this beautiful experience.
Choose peace around this. However it turns out will be perfect.
If you still feel that a conversation needs to happen, follow the steps below to handle it with love and build a relationship of trust with the other person.
5) Handle this tough conversation with love and trust.
This conversation will be most successful if both parties feel safe, respected and validated. You can make that happen and it’s easier than you’d think.
I call this “The Trust Formula” and have been using it and teaching it for seven years… and it works every time.
Step 1: Set your opinions, thoughts, feelings, fear and concerns aside upfront. You are going to start this conversation by respecting and validating the other person first. Make sure that you are ready to focus on loving and validating them. Take a moment and mentally set your stuff aside.
Step 2: Ask questions about what they think or feel about the situation. What are their concerns, fears and opinions about it? What is going on in their world around this issue?
Then you are going to listen (while staying very open and loving.) You don’t have to agree with anything they say but you do have to honor and respect their right to feel or think the way they do. This is what validating others is about.
You must stay at step 2 until this other person feels heard, understood and cared about. Don’t say anything but…”Tell me more about that.” Or “I totally understand how you could feel this way.”
If you have done this step right, you will feel the other person’s walls come down. They will not be defensive and they will feel safe with you. Once you reach this point you can move on to step three.
Step 3: Ask permission to share your thoughts. Asking permission should sound something like this… “Would you be open to letting me share some of my feelings on this?” “Would you let me share some of my concerns with you?” “May I share some of my thoughts on this with you?”
This is a VERY powerful way to share your feelings and at the same time make the other person feel respected and honored too. I recommend never giving advice or telling someone what you think about anything unless you have asked permission first.
(If only every mother-in-law would follow this counsel!)
If you follow these three steps you can handle any conversation with love and strength. That doesn’t always mean the other person will be happy about what you have to say but it will go as well as possible. If they choose drama and take offense at this point… that is their stuff and is not your responsibility. You must allow others to experience their experiences however they choose. You only have control over you.
Choose to handle yourself with maturity, strength and love – you can do this!