How to Confront: First, Prepare!

halleysblogconfront2Close your eyes and picture someone whose behavior you need to confront. It could be a spouse, co-worker, friend, boss. Have a good image? Great….

Now imagine that they are standing right outside your door at this very moment waiting for you to confront them. What do you feel?! I would guess nervous, anxious, fearful, something along those lines.

Truth is, most of us are uncomfortable with confrontation. I certainly was until I learned a few key steps outlined in Fierce Conversations. Reading this book has done wonders to take the edge off confrontation and it's now a conversation I welcome, rather than avoid.

For me, it boils down to 3 key steps in preparing for this conversation:

1) Change your context. When we think of confrontation, we often picture ourselves in an adversarial position: Fingers pointed, squared off on opposite sides of the table, guns a-blazing. But if we break down the word “confront”, it begins with the letters c-o-n. In Spanish, the word “con” means “with”.  So to confront is really to be with someone in front of an issue.

Now isn’t that better? Picturing yourself side-by-side with someone as you examine an issue together. This shift in context is not only powerful in bettering your approach to this conversation, the confrontations you have will be more successful as a result.

2) Write an opening statement. With confrontation, preparation is key. When the person you are confronting realizes what is happening, they will (naturally) turn inside, briefly panic, or momentarily leave their body. Therefore, your thoughtfulness in the words you choose, the tone you strike, the examples you use, and your clarity about the situation is paramount. This is not the time to “wing it”. In our Confrontation Model  we offer our 60-second Opening Statement as a terrific framework in achieving this and please note the “60-second” piece. Going on and on about how you’ve been wronged will only implode the conversation. Keep it short, keep it clear, and keep it clean.

3) Practice, practice, practice.  Once you have a solid opening statement, practice delivering it to another person – a person you trust and who has your best interests in mind. Reading it to yourself versus saying it aloud are two wildly different animals. You may be surprised at how much emotion leaks into your voice (and your face!) when you share your statement verbally. Saying it a few times will allow you to work through those emotions so that you can deliver your message clearly and without an emotional load.

As with many things, adapting the right mindset while taking the time to properly prepare goes a long ways towards ensuring success. Confrontation is no different. Now that you have these tools, I encourage you to open the door and face your (old) fears.


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