In a previous post I shared 7 benefits of confrontation. It is good to know the value and benefits of confrontation. Hopefully this motivates us to confront when necessary.
After we have been motivated to confront we need to go to the next step which is: actually doing the confronting! Before we can do this effectively we need to know the essentials of a good confrontation.
12 essentials of good confrontation
(from “How to Have That Difficult Conversation You’ve Been Avoiding” by Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend)
1. Be emotionally present.
Being present refers to being in touch and in tune with our own feelings as well as those of the other person. Presence and connection help make confrontation tolerable.
2. Be clear about “You” and “I”.
Problems arise when we don’t clearly distinguish our feelings and opinions from the other person’s. Instead of saying “You need to change this”, say “I need for you to change this.” There is an “I” who has a desire and a request and there is a “you” who is being asked to change something. That is clear.
3. Clarify the problem.
Be clear about the nature of the your problem with the other person. Here are 3 important elements of the problem itself and what you would like to see happen: (1) Clarify the nature of the problem (2) Clarify the effects of the problem and (3) Clarify your desire for change.
4. Balance grace and truth.
Grace is our being on the side of, or “for” the other person as well as the relationship. Truth is the reality of whatever we need to say about the problem. Having the two together counters the bad effects of having one of these by itself.
5. Stay on task.
A good confrontation has a specific and clear focus. It can be reduced to one or both of two things: You want the other to start doing something you want or to stop doing something you don’t want.
6. Use the formula, When you do “A”, I feel “B”.
One of the most powerful and effective ingredients of a good confrontation is explaining to a person how their attitudes or actions influence you. In other words, you show how what another person does affects your emotions.
7. Affirm and validate.
Affirmation and validation of a person is not rocket science. The basic message you want to convey is that you care about the person; you notice things they are doing well, or you let them know you are on their side.
8. Apologize for your part in the problem.
Don’t confront someone if you owe them an apology first. Make sure you have a clean slate before the person.
9. Avoid “shoulds”.
The word “should” feels parental and judgmental to people. People who use many “shoulds” get less helpful outcomes and reactions from other people than those who don’t.
10. Be an agent of change.
Be helpful and supportive. Be clear that you want to help the other person in any way you can. Becoming “change agents” for each other is the best kind of confrontation there is. It is confrontation in the highest service of love.
11. Be specific.
Don’t use words like “never” and “always.” Global statements in all-or-nothing terms do little to solve the problem. When you talk to someone, instead of giving big picture descriptions, give them specifics about the problem, what is it that you want to be different, or what they can do to resolve the problem.
12. Differentiate between forgiving and trusting.
We need to remember 3 things: (1) Forgiveness has to do with the past – forgiveness is not holding something someone has done against them (2) Reconciliation has to do with the present – it occurs when the other person apologizes and accepts forgiveness and (3) Trust has to do with the future – a person must show through their actions that they are trustworthy before you trust them again.
Which ones are you good at? Which ones are you not so good at?