Conversation VS. Confrontation: Understanding The Difference

Learn to communicate better when you realize you don't have to be aggressive to talk about an issue with someone.
understanding the difference will help you communicate better
Image Source: Pexels | Alex Green

I've been living in an apartment with my boyfriend and two of my best friends for just over a year now. When you combine four people from four different households with four very different lifestyles into one apartment, it can be a challenging adjustment. Compromise is necessary if we all want to live together in harmony.

Because each of us has our preferred ways of living, we can accidentally cause conflict with each other. For example, when I lived with my parents, it was not one of my responsibilities around the house to take the garbage outside to the bin. For the first few months of living on my own in a shared apartment, my roommate Sydney carried the burden of taking out all of our garbage. That was rightfully frustrating for her to do for all of us.

After way too long, I finally recognized my mistake. I approached Sydney about it, apologized for not taking responsibility sooner, and then asked her why she didn't say anything to me about it. Her response was "I'm too scared of confrontation to bring it up."

That word struck me. Confrontation. It has a negative connotation to it. I decided to look up the definition in a dictionary.

What is Confrontation?

According to Oxford's English dictionary, confrontation is "a hostile or argumentative meeting or situation between opposing parties."

The keywords in this definition are hostile and argumentative. A confrontation is an argument or verbal fight. This means my roommate believed talking to me about taking out the garbage would've been an argument.

It's not just my roommate that I've heard say they're "scared of confrontation." Some of my other friends who also live together have similar house chore issues. When I asked one of them if they've talked to one another about it, they responded "I don't like confrontation." But why does it have to be a confrontation? Can't two people resolve a relatively simple issue with a mature conversation

What is a Conversation?

The Oxford English dictionary defines conversation as "a talk, especially an informal one, between two or more people, in which news and ideas are exchanged."

With that definition in mind, it makes sense to compromise or find a solution to a problem by talking it out, exchanging ideas in a friendly yet still serious manner.

Conversing VS. Confronting

The biggest difference between these two types of communication is the tone of voice used. If someone approaches you with an issue and begins yelling or blaming you, that is a confrontation. Contrarily, if someone approaches you calmly and addresses their concerns about an issue with you, that is a conversation.

A problem cannot be solved if people are just pointing fingers, yelling, not listening to other perspectives, and displaying agitation.

avoid confrontation by having a calm, mature attitude
Image Source: Pexels | Anna Shvets

Effectively Communicating a Problem

Easily avoid confrontation when you and the other person have a mature and respectful conversation. You don't have to be afraid of confrontation if you don't make it an option. 

Here are some tips to have a mature conversation to resolve an issue:

Ask the other person if they're free to have a sit-down conversation with you. 

I always begin a serious conversation by asking "Hey, is it okay if I talk to you about something for a bit?" It's not the best idea to have a deep talk if the other person is already dealing with something else or is in a bad mood. I ask for permission just to make sure they're open for a conversation as well as in a good place mentally to figure out an issue.

Listen to each perspective.

Whenever someone in the apartment is bothered by something, all of us sit in the living room and listen to what everyone has to say. They may see a situation differently than you do. Listening to every perspective can help you realize where the other person is coming from.

For example, maybe you didn't know that your roommate feels uncomfortable when you enter their room without knocking first until they express that to you. Now, you're aware and can change your habits.

Don't interrupt.

Your thoughts and feelings are important, however, so are the other person's. Give each other all the time they need to fully and adequately express themselves to you. They'll do the same for you. If you decide to interrupt someone, you may make them feel as though you don't care about what they have to say. Both of your concerns are equally important. Prove that by giving your full attention to their words.


If you've done something wrong, whether accidental or on purpose, apologize for it. Be earnest about your apology. It shows the other person that you're remorseful for your actions and willing to change for the better.

Find a compromise or solution.

You've both said what you needed to. Now, it's time to look for a solution to the problem. It's worthless to talk about an issue and not try to solve it. If it's a complicated situation that doesn't have a straightforward solution, compromise with each other until something works.

For example, my cat used to sneak into my roommate Sydney's room and eat her plants. I tried doing everything I could to dissuade him from going into her room at all, let alone eat her plants. Cats are stubborn creatures though. I talked to Sydney about my frustrations and apologized that he kept mutilating her greenery.

We came to the compromise of keeping her plants outside during the day and I would keep my cat shut in my bedroom with me at night, so Sydney could put her plants back inside.

Communication is KEY

I say this almost every day. Communication both solves problems and avoids future problems. It's the foundation of healthy relationships with others. Communication is how we better understand one another. Don't be afraid to talk with someone about anything, whether it's an issue, asking for advice, or you need to let out a good rant.

23 | uni graduate | aspiring author | overthinker | theatre kid

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