Confronting someone can be one of the most uncomfortable, yet necessary, things you do as a friend or leader. If not handled carefully, confrontation can create rifts in even the strongest relationships; I know, I have lost dear friends from poor confrontation.
Before speaking with the person you need to ensure you fully understand why the confrontation is necessary. Spend some time thinking through their possible reactions. Though you should prepare for some backlash, I have found that following these ten points makes the conversation easier; I call them the Ten Commandments of confrontation:
- Do it privately, not publicly. Public confrontation creates embarrassment and often results in a defensive attack.
- Do it as soon as possible. Waiting increases your apprehension and may catch them off guard from something they had assumed was ok.
- Speak to one issue at a time. Don’t overload the person with a long list of issues.
- Once you’ve made a point, don’t keep repeating it.
- Deal only with actions the person can change. If you ask the person to do something he or she is unable to do, frustration builds in your relationship.
- Avoid sarcasm. Sarcasm signals that you are angry at people, not at their actions, and may cause them to resent you.
- Avoid words like always and never. Such generalizations detract from accuracy and make people defensive.
- Present criticisms as suggestions or questions if possible.
- Don’t apologize for the confrontational meeting. Doing so detracts from it and may indicate you are not sure you had the right to say what you did.
- Don’t forget the compliments. Use what I call the “sandwich” in these types of meetings: Compliment-Confront-Compliment.
What prevents you from confronting someone?
How can you use the Ten Commandments of confrontation?