Thursday, July 16, 2009

When to (or not to) Confront

On occasion, caring for others means you’ve got to kindly, but firmly call them on their junk. If you’ve won the right to be heard, and the other person wants to hear from you, sometimes you’re the wake up call they truly want. This situation happened to me a couple years ago. One young married guy (who I’d spent a lot of time with) wasn’t doing much of anything he agreed he wanted to do. His plan, after we’d spent hours talking through options, was to get his mind and body healthy so he would feel better about life and himself. The ultimate goal, however, was to be less self-focused and more wife-focused. Week after week he’d meet me with the same lame excuses on why he hadn’t done a dang thing to help himself. “Couldn’t apply for jobs; couldn’t take his meds; couldn’t say nice things to his wife…”

My first reaction was to kindly but directly ream him out a bit to get his attention. But since I’m more of a people pleaser, and I’ve learned the value of taking the long view with most men (giving them time to make changes on their own while still staying their friend), I kept quiet…for two more months! He was a hurting soul, I reasoned, so staying longsuffering with him was a better way to go. But eventually it became apparent that unless I talked to him directly and firmly, he may never change. I knew I’d won the right to be heard in his life, so I was fairly certain he’d listen. But for some reason I kept delaying.

It was when I realized I was delaying and delaying that I knew I should talk to him. I did, it was with good motives and without anger, but it was direct. Ultimately it also proved effective. He finally got off the schnide and made some of the changes he wanted to make.

A principle I’ve tried to live by is that when I REALLY want to confront someone, I probably shouldn’t. And when I’m delaying and waiting and putting off talking to someone about something important, it’s at this point that I likely should. I can’t recall a situation where this has not been the best strategy.

Do you have someone you’re dying to call out? Then you probably shouldn’t.

Are you dreading having to talk to someone about something important? Then you likely should.

Do you have any stories that either confirm or deny this principle?

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