Mastering Confrontation is a Vital Leadership Skill


Mastering Confrontation is a Vital Leadership Skill

Sometimes at work, someone does or doesn’t do something that is an issue with agreements, work flow or your values.  Plain and simple, it creates a problem for you and you are now faced with how best to tackle the issue.

All too often, we simply try to ignore things, hoping the problem will just go away.  Sometimes it will, but you can’t count on ignoring an issue as a method of problem-solving.  It’s too passive.  Leaving it alone may reinforce it or even cause it to get worse.

You need to master the fine art of confrontation.  Confrontation doesn’t need to be a vicious attack on someone else, nor does it need to be cringe worthy.  Confrontation is part of problem-solving.  Unlike other issues you solve at work, confrontation is looking for a person to modify their behavior as your primary solution.  It works like this:

  1. Focus on the problem. The first step in learning confrontation is to ensure you are looking at and solving the problem. Take the attitude that this person has some reason for doing what they are doing and probably doesn’t realize the impact to you.
  2. Drop the emotions. If you have really stepped into a problem-solving space, you have to drop the stories and emotions in order to be effective.  If you allow your emotions to drive your actions, you will lose in many ways.
  3. Script out what you want to say. Until you master confrontation, it will go much better if you write down word for word what you want to say and how you want to say it.  You don’t want to you use judgmental words or absolutes like “you always” or “you never”.  That is simply untrue, unproductive and will put the other person on the defensive.  Keep your comments focused on solving the problem.
  4. You are there to solve a problem, so what is the issue? You really do need to understand what the issue or impact is. To simply tell someone to stop doing something isn’t helpful.  Explain the problem and the impact.

Confrontation doesn’t need to be an ugly thing if you adjust your thinking and approach to solving an issue with a co-worker.

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By Dorothy Tannahill-Moran

About Dorothy

Dorothy Tannahill-Moran is the Introvert Whisperer, Career & Leadership, speaker and author.

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