Facing My Fear Of Confrontation

Incredible Hulk

I’m passive by nature. But looking back at my life, I’m passive to a fault. I still can’t pin it down if it stems from a fear of confrontation, not wanting to rock the boat, not having a backbone to stand up for myself, or a combination of all three. At an early age, I remember not being able to stand up to bullies when they were picking on me and my younger brother. As I got older, I tried to determine a logical reason for my behavior. During a heated exchange with an ex-girlfriend’s brother, I became so overwhelmed with emotions that I felt I was losing control of my physical body. I could hardly speak as my body shook uncontrollably. After that experience, I promised myself not to go there again as it was embarrassing to be rendered into bumbling, convulsing fool. On other occasions, I recall explaining to close friends that my normal state is to be passive, non-confrontational, and not rock the boat. I would have to rev myself up to push myself out of my normal state to confront, speak up, or stand up for myself. I likened it to Dr. Banner turning into the Hulk. Although I could do something I normally would not do, I was left in a very emotional, out of control, animal rage state. Just like Dr. Banner, I tried at all cost to contain it. I would not have super human strength and cause massive destruction. However, I felt like a mess and always viewed it as a negative. Fast forward to today.

Thankfully I have a better handle on my emotions and during a short stint at previous job, I learned a framework for having difficult conversation. This combined with a higher self confidence, I am finally rid of having to rev myself about and turning into the Hulk. A few weeks ago, I was tested and had to point blank face my fear of confrontation.

One of my fellow desktop engineers ran into trouble with a doctor who could not login into his medical group’s portal page. Hearing some additional background information, he has been logging in for years without a problem, but now, he can’t login at all. Baron, my desktop engineer, called me in to assist. I remotely controlled their computer and began to go through my troubleshooting process. The doctor who could see my every move, begins to badmouth me.

“Who’s the genius on the other side? This guy is an idiot! I’ve tried all that before. It’s not going to work. He doesn’t know a thing about computers!”

I was speechless. I tried one more thing and recommended to Baron that we let the doctor go so we could continue our research under better conditions. Long story short, I collaborated with another senior engineer and figured out the process to get this doctor’s portal page to work. He had to answer five questions, quickly and accurately to install a VPN plugin correctly on his browser. If he did not, his profile would not be able to login to his portal without starting from scratch and going through the entire plugin process again.

A few days later, my fellow senior engineer got a voicemail from a very pleasant doctor. He accidentally reset his iPad and needed it reconfigured. He politely asked for assistance and would be very grateful. Ironically, it was the same doctor who tore into me over the phone. Let’s call him, Doctor Cameron. After the incident, I questioned myself.

“Should I hunt this person down and confront him? Should I give him a piece of my mind and tell him he can’t get away with that kind of rude behavior? Should I just let it go?”

In a matter of minutes, I would come face to face with said doctor and my fear of confrontation.

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