Scene 10: “Confrontation”

Joe: “OK so how do we respond when someone close to us is doing something that is “not right”? We confront them The act is called CONFRONTATION. It’s a necessary skill.”

Here’s a little scene from the comic strip “Pickles”:

David: “Someone’s doing something wrong or annoying. You have to tell him to stop it. BUT IN HIS/HER MIND IT IS A PRECIOUS JEWEL… ONE OF THEIR PRECIOUS HABITS. What to do? How to point out to people something they do that annoys us.”

“Do you have to yell and scream? Do you have to get mad and have a fight?”

“There are three styles of confrontation: Brooklyn style, Prince Edward Island style and extra sensitive style. Let’s take a look at them.”

“People from Brooklyn: They say what’s on their mind. They come right out and tell you right then and there. If you are doing something stupid they’ll say, “Hey, cut that out!” You won’t have any trouble hearing it. And in about a minute the confrontation will be over and done with and forgotten. Everybody in Brooklyn is used to this method. It came over from the old country. It works well…”

(...except when the confrontation is spoken in anger… “A bit of a temper” is a misnomer… it is rarely a bit. As a habit it can be very destructive… believe me.)

Patti: “People from Prince Edward Island, on the other hand, are quiet. My father used to say to us kids, “Don’t be so loud.” The good side of this is: conversations on P.E.I. are very extremely pleasant, more so than in any other place in the world. Everyone takes a turn, and when it’s your turn everyone pays attention to you and shows an interest. Lovely.”

“But the downside is they don’t like to confront. It disturbs the peace. If you do something annoying they often won’t let you know. They just “put up with it.” This is not healthy. Because these annoyances will pile up and sooner or later there will be an explosion.”

Steve: “If you identify with Brooklyn fine.”

Patti: “If you identify with Prince Edward Island and don’t like to confront there are ways to tell someone what annoys you without being angry. Keep remembering that what you find annoying is not considered bad by the other person. It is a precious jewel in their head. In fact they think it is good. So blasting out in anger at it will be considered very inappropriate by the person with the fault.”

“So be winsome, cheerful, lighthearted and upbeat: “I’m supposed to like the sound of what you just said?”

“I didn’t like that very much.”

“I think I know the reason behind what you did, but maybe I’m wrong. Enlighten me.”

“I need to talk over something with you.” The British: “May I have a word.”

“Give me a minute while I get angry. I’m really ticked off but I’ll be OK in a minute.”

Joe: “Here’s one I use a lot. If my television isn’t working, for instance, it can be very annoying. But I tell the associate: “I am unhappy with my TV.” And then I tell them what’s wrong. When it’s fixed I say, “Now I am happy. Make it a good day.”

“Here’s something we can try. In primitive societies people just laugh at other people’s faults. This relieves the toxic effect. I don’t know if this will be acceptable today or not.”

“During a debate with President Carter, President Reagan disagreed with President Carter and he said: “There you go again.” This is especially good when confronting someone who is overemphasizing talents, like being smart and helpful. “There you go again being helpful” “There you go again teaching me.” “There you go again hogging the conversation.” The person can go right on being smart and right but somehow the toxicity will be gone. Here’s a quote from Joan Rivers: “If you can laugh at it you can deal with it.”

Joe: “Back in the 1970s there was a back to the land movement. A group of young people I knew formed a Christian community. One of them owned a tract of land. I used to go out there and show them how to plant tomato plants, for example. And perhaps some other things. So one day their leader invited me to a restaurant for coffee. After we sat down he said, “We don’t like it that you tell us what to do.” Then he gave me the example of the tomato plants. I was having an intervention. It was kind of a little shock. I never knew that my helpfulness had a dark side. But it taught me a lot. In a day or two I got over it. Now that I’m older I wouldn’t mind too much if I had an intervention. This is because I’m more sure of my deep down self and if some of my talents aren’t being accepted too well I don’t mind if people tell me.

“And then there are the famous “I” statements: “When you do that I feel this.” To make it softer change the “you” to “anybody”: “When anybody does that I feel this. “

Krista: “The third group of people are extra sensitive. You learn from experience that you can’t let them know if they are doing something annoying because if you do they will burst into tears and run from the room. You learn not to try that again. You just have to put up with it. This is very bad because you can’t go through life without some confrontations.”

Joe: “I knew a couple. They were wealthy. The wife was “sweet and lovely”… so sweet and lovely that she could not endure “rough talk.” She would leave the dinner table if the conversation got “too rough.” They had two sons. When the boys grew up one of them cut off all relations with his parents. His mother’s negativity had gotten a hold in him. Sweet and lovely to the end, she had no conception of the damage she had done. Actually she was an absolute controller.”

Dave: If you are especially sensitive and prone to break into tears when being confronted… stop it! Stop breaking into tears and running from the room. You are ruining your relationship.”

Krista: In fact we need to give permission to our loved ones to tell us what we are doing… or not doing… that irritates them. Give permission to your spouse and your siblings and parents… and your children. “Am I irritating you in any way?”

“This brings everything out into the open and this is a very good refreshing thing. WE ALL SHOULD BE ABLE TO SAY WHATEVER IS ON OUR MIND. WHEN THERE ARE THINGS YOU CAN’T TALK ABOUT… THIS IS WHAT BREEDS TOXICITY IN FAMILIES.”

Joe: “If the person is verbally abusing you do this: Take your finger… and stick it… under his nose… and say very firmly, “STOP IT!”

Krista: “Now let’s switch things around. What happens when someone points out to you what is irritating about your behavior? The first thing is: You’re not going to like it… it’s going to involve a crush of one of your precious thoughts. But don’t have a meltdown… it’s not the end of the world… he/she is not putting you down… she’s just commenting on one of your habits and how it is affecting her. You are still fine and wonderful… it’s just this particular quality of yours that’s annoying… AT THIS TIME… that’s all. In fact you can appreciate it. Grin and bear it, because if she can’t point out what irritates her, these irritations will become toxic in the relationship and you’re going to be the loser. (Repeat.) If she can’t point out what irritates her, these irritations will become toxic in the relationship and you’re going to be the loser.”

Dave: “Of course being involved in a confrontation… or overhearing one… shoots out negative vibes around so don’t confront over every little “infraction”. Generally speaking let people be with their little imperfections and faults.”

Joe: “OK so what about confrontation and children? Krista, you better take this one. You have four girls.”

Krista: “Yes. There are still parents around who think bringing up children means spending 18 years getting cross with them when they do something wrong. That definitely came over from the old country.

“Enlightened parents know that sure children can aggravate you and you respond by yelling at them but as a general rule you spend time with them teaching them some good habits, like thoughtfulness, kindness, self restraint, how to share, how to talk to adults, how to stick to the job, how to save money, as well as how to be brave, fair and even wise.”

Joe: “Thanks Krista. You have also made sure your daughters have the wherewithal to develop their creativity and their interests.”
Krista: “That’s important.”

Turn to Scene 11: “Emotions”