People who have a fear of confrontation often use these 8 phrases

Confrontation is tough. It can feel uncomfortable and sometimes downright scary.

For some of us, avoiding it becomes a habit. We try to smooth things over or change the topic, just to keep the peace.

Or if you’re like me (I mean the old me who was definitely scared of confrontation), you’d simply shut down. 

Are you the type who has a fear of confrontation? 

If so, you’re not alone…and you probably have a few go-to phrases when you’re trying to sidestep a conflict.

Here are eight of those phrases often used by those who fear confrontation.

1) “I don’t want to cause any trouble”

This is a classic, isn’t it? I’ve used this one more times than I can count. It’s the go-to phrase when you want to avoid any form of argument or disagreement.

But here’s the thing — when we say this, we’re essentially putting other people’s feelings and comfort above our own. We’re prioritizing harmony over our own needs and wants.

I remember a time when I was working on a project with a colleague who wasn’t pulling their weight. I felt frustrated and overwhelmed, but instead of addressing the issue, I said, “I don’t want to cause any trouble”.

The result? I ended up doing most of the work myself.

Looking back, I realize that confrontation could have led to a more equitable distribution of tasks and less stress for me. 

2) “It’s not a big deal”

On the surface, this phrase seems like a good way to diffuse tension.

We use this phrase when we want to downplay an issue that is bothering us. We convince ourselves that it’s not worth making a fuss over.

This was a phrase I’d often use when people overstepped my boundaries.

I’d say it when a friend would arrive late all the time for our meetups. I’d say it when a colleague passed on their tasks to me because they wanted to leave early. 

The truth is, it was a big deal. It showed a lack of respect for my time. But my fear of confrontation led me to minimize my own feelings.

3) “Whatever you think is best”

This phrase is a master of disguise. It appears to showcase flexibility and open-mindedness, but in reality, it can be a tool for evading confrontation.

The interesting thing about this phrase is that it’s rooted in decision-making avoidance, a psychological mechanism that kicks in when we want to avoid conflict. By deferring the decision to others, we eliminate the risk of disagreement.

This Harvard Business Review article affirms this in a discussion about “decision spin”, where decisions bounce around a company, from group to group. According to the article, “Often, the underlying problem isn’t an inability to make decisions – it’s a tendency to avoid conflict.”

This can manifest in phrases like “Whatever you think is best”, essentially passing the buck to avoid potential conflict.

4) “I’m fine with whatever”

Similar to “Whatever you think is best,” this phrase is a perfect example of how we sometimes sideline our own opinions just to avoid a potential argument.

Think about the last time you were deciding where to eat with a group of friends. Did you genuinely not have a preference, or were you just avoiding the potential back-and-forth that could stem from expressing your choice?

Just like with the rest of the phrases on this list, we might think we’re keeping the peace, but in reality, we’re just ignoring our own needs and preferences to avoid confrontation.

5) “I just want everyone to be happy”

confrontational in the family People who have a fear of confrontation often use these 8 phrases

I have to be honest and say that, as a Libra, people-pleasing is a serious struggle of mine. I have a natural desire for harmony, and any kind of imbalance or conflict upsets me.

So, this phrase is something I’d often say. 

I remember a time when my family was planning a vacation. There were disagreements over the destination – some wanted the beach (me included), others preferred the mountains. I found myself saying, “I just want everyone to be happy”, and agreed to go wherever the majority decided.

In hindsight, my desire for everyone’s happiness led me to suppress my own desire for a beach holiday. By avoiding confrontation, I had somehow disconnected from my own needs and feelings.

This isn’t to say that compromising for the sake of others’ happiness is wrong. It just becomes problematic when it’s a consistent pattern and you find yourself constantly setting aside your own needs.

6) “Let’s just drop it”

Ah, the classic conflict avoider. This is another phrase I’ve definitely been guilty of using in the past. It’s a quick escape route when you can sense a disagreement brewing or when a conversation is heading towards uncomfortable territory.

I recall a specific instance where I was having a heated discussion with my sister about our differing political views. The conversation was starting to escalate, and instead of standing my ground, I quickly defused it with “Let’s just drop it”.

I mean, I knew my views were valid. I had every right to them. But the water was getting too hot for my liking. It was easier to end the conversation than to face the uncomfortable confrontation.

But what I’ve come to realize is that while “Let’s just drop it” might dodge the confrontation in the moment, it doesn’t solve the underlying issue. In fact, it can even lead to resentment and misunderstanding in the long run.

7) “I don’t want to argue”

This one is easy to relate to. No one really enjoys arguing, right? But saying “I don’t want to argue” is often an attempt to shut down a conversation that could lead to confrontation.

The irony is, by using this phrase, we may inadvertently create more tension. It can come across as dismissive, suggesting that the other person’s viewpoint isn’t worth discussing.

8) “Maybe you’re right”

Finally, a phrase of acquiescence. A quick-fix phrase. A backtrack phrase.

People who are afraid of confrontation use this when they feel cornered in a disagreement and just want to end it as quickly as possible.

And maybe it will indeed put an end to it, but it will also come with an unpleasant side effect — resentment.

It’s natural to feel resentful when you feel like your viewpoint isn’t seen as valid. When it feels like you’re not being heard.

So resist the urge to say this if you don’t really believe it. Your thoughts and feelings deserve their own space, so don’t get in the way of that! 

Final thoughts

It’s completely normal to fear confrontation and use these phrases from time to time.

However, if you find these phrases are your go-to in every disagreement or difficult conversation, it may be worth exploring why that is and seeking ways to more effectively assert yourself and your needs.

As someone who used to default to these phrases at the slightest sign of conflict, I’ll say that it takes a lot of courage to learn how to stand your ground. But what got me there was telling myself over and over that my voice matters, just like anyone else’s.

I hope you tell yourself that, too. And if anyone else disagrees, well, that’s not really your problem now, is it? 

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Tina Fey

Tina Fey

I've ridden the rails, gone off track and lost my train of thought. I'm writing for Ideapod to try and find it again. Hope you enjoy the journey with me.

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