Lead with vulnerability

The key to constructive confrontation is vulnerability. Let me give you an example. Rather than, “What you’ve asked of me is too much and I can’t help you” try instead “I’m feeling overwhelmed and I can’t help you.” This example is one part using an ‘I’ statement, which means owning your experience; and one part leading with vulnerability. Often the two go hand in hand.

When we intend on leading with our own experience, we shift the focus from the other to ourselves, which forces us to speak our truth, take accountability and invite the similar response. When we address the other’s behavior, at all, ever, we evoke defensiveness. Even if that’s how it feels inside. Even if it feels like the other has ‘asked too much,’ it’s not your job to call them out. It’s your responsibility to check in with yourself about how that makes you feel, and communicate that as clearly as possible. This approach causes reflection instead of deflection in the other. And that is precisely what you’re after!

This is a more feminine style of communication and requires strength to execute. Being defensive and accusatory requires no courage nor accountability. Nothing is more disarming than getting your ego out of the way and speaking your truth, clearly and directly. And it’s inarguable. No one else can challenge how you feel. But of course they are entitled to challenge your perception of them. By stating ‘you’ve asked too much,’ you’ve invited them to prove you wrong. But that’s not the point for you, is it? You just don’t want to do the thing they are asking of you, so own it.

Your feelings are valid and legitimate. You have an inalienable right to your own feelings. You don’t have a right to evaluate/judge other people’s requests. Unless you just wanna brawl, lead with vulnerability and you will actually get what you want without resistance.