Steps to Healthy Confrontation

The need to confront can be a stressful situation. As with most things, the problem is not the problem; the problem is how you see the problem. 

When the need arises to approach someone about a touchy situation, I like to call it “care-fronting”.  The premise is this:  I care about you.  I care about me.  I care enough about our relationship that I am going to confront this issue. 
That attitude puts a whole new slant to confrontation.  It sets the stage for you being firm, yet kind.  It sets the stage for the other person to be more willing to listen to your position, and be able to respond with his viewpoint.  It sets the stage for resolve.
1.  Work through your anger.  When emotions go up, as in anger, thinking goes down.  Take a walk and give yourself some “think time” so you will be cooler and more objective.
2.  You initiate the contact.  Whether you are the offender or the offended, find the courage to graciously approach the other person and confidently broach the subject.  Make the opening remark non-threatening, such as, “I value our relationship and there is something I would like to talk with you about.” 
3.  Set a convenient time.  Not only do you ask permission to speak, you also ask for a convenient time and place.  “I need to speak with you about something I see as very important.  Is now a good time?”   
4.  Be pleasant and positive.  Start by expressing your appreciation of the person and his/her contribution to your life/workforce. 
5.  Broach the subject in a general way, and obtain permission to challenge the issue.  A suggested approach would be, “I am concerned about the lack of communication between this department and shipping.  I would like to see if we can work something out.” 
Often a person will become defensive due in part by an offensive approach.  If an abrasive crow bar is used to pry information, the person will respond by hammering his mind shut.   
6.  Use “I” statements.  Communicate the issue from your point of view.  Admit you have given thought to the problem and need clarification.  Give your perspective.   
7.  Allow the person to give her point of view, and choose not to be offended by anything she says.  Filter out the tone of voice, and hear only the words.  Listen without pre-conceived ideas or foregone judgments. Encourage honesty and openness.  Do not interrupt or give “Yes, but” counters. 
8.  Seek understanding and solution.  Sometimes agreeing to disagree is a solution; but don’t just disagree, continue to hold the person in high regard. 
Relationship Building Tip:  Give compliments in public; reprimands in private.