You Talkin To Me?

Some guys love confrontation. For some, it’s the psychological thrill of bargaining prices down in a deal, for others it more physical. I dread confrontation.

If you look at Hollywood, the tabloids or what’s happening down the pub this sunny weekend, you’d get a picture of how men handle any confrontation: head on. It’s wit against wit, brawn on brawn, mano a mano.

That’s certainly not how I see myself handling confrontation. Usually I try to avoid it in the first place. But if you intend to live your own life, as I do, then from time to time you will find yourself with your back up against the proverbial (or literal) wall. Why? Because what marks you out as an individual, as how you want to do things, will certainly not be the same way as everyone else.

I found myself in a situation recently. It was not a physical confrontation, thankfully. I’ve been running a lot lately and my calves just couldn’t handle a chase. There was an issue with some work that I had been doing with friends. Nobody’s fault, but frustrating.

The subject was raised over dinner and it immediately got my back up. When a question of why something had gone wrong was raised, I reacted a bit Hollywood and puffed my chest out, ‘Well how the hell is that my fault?’ My over reaction shocked a couple of people at the table and immediately put the breaks on this conversation. It also made me feel like a real dick.

10 minutes later, one of the group, a couple of decades more experienced than myself took me to one side and said something about when you find a boat on the river, you don’t push it, you tie it along behind you and take it with you.

Now, at the time I didn’t really get this and it only served to wind me up further. The next morning, once the dust had settled, I thought a bit more about this boating gibberish. Suddenly, it dawned on me what he was talking about.

The boats represent two people. Now, you can try to push a boat in the direction you want to go. I’d call this the Hollywood way. Although in the movies instead of pushing it, you’d launch a full on nuclear attack and probably need a load of oiled up ninja-chicks. Alternatively, you can get the boat, go gently alongside it, tether it to your boat and sail together into a glorious sunset. Hollywood? No. Successful? You bet.

If I had taken a breath when confronted and let the conversation flow, I might have been able to get the other person on board (excuse the pun). It seems to

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me that the boat method is the best way for handling any confrontation. It certainly seems the best place from which to start.

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Going toe to toe doesn’t leave much room for any other outcome than bruises, be it to the flesh or to the ego.

If this is the path you want to take, then know that it’s not the manly one. It might reek of action on the surface, but deep down it’s two toddlers fighting over a toy.

There are going to be many battles ahead. Choosing the ones to fight is one thing, but knowing how to fight is another… Avoiding any conflict but still coming out with what you want has got to be the best. I’m in that boat.

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