This post was published on the Huffington Post.
Do you ever feel that pit in your stomach when you know you have to have an awkward conversation with someone? It’s uncomfortable, to say the least, but it doesn’t have to be. Confrontation is a normal part of life; sometimes, it just needs to happen.
Follow these 5 tips for handling your confrontation with care (a care-frontation?) instead of burying your head in the sand.
Pick Your Battles
Ask yourself, does this even deserve a confrontation? Sure, there are things that need to be nipped in the bud and then there are things that you can let slide. Figure out what merits a confrontation and what doesn’t. If you become confrontational about everything, you lose your power but if you pick and choose what deserves confronting, you gain the respect of others (when handled correctly, that is).
The whole point of confronting someone is to be proactive. The longer we sweep things under the rug, the more resentful (and the more awkward) we become and then we have no one to blame but ourselves. If there’s something you need to confront someone with, whether with an employee, employer, family or friend, it’s always best to address it right away. Set a time aside where you can speak to the person uninterrupted and in private.
Take A Breather
I consider myself to be an assertive person, but I hate confrontation just as much as the next person. In my line of work, it’s just something I need to get over. Whenever I’m feeling anxious about confronting anyone I always remember to take a step back and relax. Visualize having an effortless conversation. Expect that the message will be received positively. More often than not, it goes a lot better than we imagine in our heads.
Be sure to express to the person you’re confronting what it is that’s bothering you. At all costs, stick to the facts. This isn’t the time to pass judgment or be accusatory. Communicate what your expectations are and why. It’s funny how many times managers will come to me after they’ve had a confrontation with an employee only to tell me that “it went better than expected” or that the other person “got it.” When you communicate your expectations to others you get them on the same page as you and that’s half the battle.
A lot of times, miscommunication happens when we don’t set expectations and we don’t listen to the other person’s issues. Maybe during a confrontation you learn that the reason why your friend hasn’t returned your calls is because she’s overwhelmed at work,not because she’s mad at you. Or maybe the reason one of your employees is always late is because they have a medical condition and perhaps you can make an accommodation that works for both of you. Once you confront someone it’s your responsibility to listen to what they have to say.
Have you ever had to deal with an uncomfortable confrontation? How did you handle it?