You know the feeling. You’ve walked away from an altercation with someone and only afterwards, do you think of all the smart and cutting responses you could have used.
Instead of standing there like a fool with mouth wide open and glistening eyes.
Once you’ve had some time to process the conversation, you suddenly become an eloquent veteran of difficult conversations.
If only you’d had that skill when the moment required it.
Especially when you get caught off guard, right? The trouble is, that your opponent has been planning and plotting while you have blissfully continued with life in general, completely unaware of the impending clash.
They have the upper hand.
So, while you are still processing the influx of information and accusations, your opponent has a fully formed picture in their agenda of what exactly it is that they feel they need to lumber you with. The emotion being flung at you sends you into a spiral and before you know it, you are wandering around in a daze trying to figure out what on earth just happened.
Sometimes, people have valid complaints and we deserve the whipping that comes our way but sometimes, the issue at hand is not ours at all and in fact, an issue that the other person is dealing with.
In the moment, it is almost impossible to discern between those two factors and we may retreat with our proverbial tail between our legs or, if we are gifted word-smiths, we may get a few blows of our own in and walk away feeling like we gave, what we got.
Either way, the situation mostly leaves us feeling unsettled. Not like in the movies where the actor has had time to learn their words and lands a humdinger of a response before walking away like a peacock.
In my experience, a clash between two people reveals deeper issues from both parties that could only surface when one is under attack. Pay attention to the emotions and situations that suddenly come to mind when you are being threatened – those challenges have been there all along and this situation, is an opportunity for you to face them.
If, like me, you tend to walk away feeling ruffled and confused – I have a few tips for you for the next time someone comes at you, balls blazing.
Let them speak: Most people just need to be heard. Whatever the complaint is, there is probably more than one reason for it and if you just listen (without interrupting) and allow them to just blow up (while NOT taking all their words personally), they will calm down and be ready (either right then or in a while) to talk about what is really going on without all the words and emotions flying around.
Take a breath: although the remarks and accusations may hurt – mindfully distance yourself from the situation and think of what you would see if you were outside of the conversation. You’ll probably see both sides of the story. Try and discern what is your responsibility and what is not your responsibility. Claim and apologise what you need to apologise for and gently push away what does not belong to you.
Set your boundaries: If the accusations are fair – accept them. It’s certainly not pleasant to concede fault but if you own it, not only will you rescue the situation but you would have learned something about yourself. Should the accusations not be yours to own, set your boundaries. You are no-one’s punching bag and once you’ve had a moment to stabilise, possibly reach out and see if you can assist the person in question. They may very well be apologising to you sometime soon and will value your understanding.
Run to safety: Reach out to your tribe. Let them take your side, have your back and console you. We’ve all been there and we can all stand a little support from the people who care about us. You’ll be okay because the people who matter, will be in your corner. If the person in question is a person that matters – then the pain of working through this altercation may very well deepen your relationship.
Know when to walk away: If your opponent is a repeat offender and you just can’t seem to find a way to work together and have a mutually beneficial relationship, then it may be time to set further boundaries or in fact, cut the ties completely. This too, can be done in a way that you both walk away, agreeing to disagree without having residual negative feelings that follow you around. Let them go, with love.
We all have them. Those moments when we are in trouble (whether fairly or unfairly) and the blessing of having many people in your life, means that there will be times of altercations.
Decide who and what you want to keep and work on, and leave the rest behind in love.
It’s all just part of your story and growth process.