How to Confront People Without Fighting

It is very common for people to see a mere difference of opinions as a situation where they are pushed to “win.”

Winning means imposing their view, convincing the other person of his wrong ways, and having finally the last word. Finally, it becomes a form of control, and a power struggle.

How often have we seen people approach conflict situations with an aggressive, confrontational style that only exacerbates the problem? For them, attacking is the only way to solve a difference! Probably the results are more confrontation and frustration, and less resolution.

If you need to confront someone at work, and this person doesn’t take honest feedback very well, then you have a double problem:

a) How to communicate your request in a way they can hear it properly?

b) How to manage their emotions so you don’t get into a useless confrontation?

When the need to attack people (or defend yourself) arises, it is because we have been conditioned to see confrontation as a battle. Too many movies (and music, and shows) support the “it's my way or the highway” message. Unfortunately, spreading that around just tells people that it's okay to forget how to cooperate and deal with others with respect.

So how do we turn that defense/attack mechanism off? Let’s use constructive communication and "owning the problem."

These are the basic points:

  • Address the problem rather than attacking the other person’s behavior ("This is happening..." rather than "You are...")
  • Describe actions and situations (“We are falling behind in our delivery time”) rather than judging the person,
  • Be specific about occurrences (“It happened the last three consecutive Fridays”) rather than general patterns,
  • Follow this line of discussion and avoid being side tracked;
  • Keep saying that you want a two-way discussion.

Owning the problem means that you tell the situation from the impact it has on you.

When you need to confront a party that has done something that causes frustration, disappointment or any kind of displeasure for you, you can think of that displeasure as your problem because you are the one experiencing it.

Here is the way to do it:

Ask for a time when there is peace and quiet; so you can deal with the person without witness;

Then, express some appreciation at the beginning:

“I see the way you deliver x, and I’m very happy with what you do.”

Describe the impact of the problem:

In my experience, “delays on Fridays are causing this problem for my schedule”

Invite the other side to provide solutions.

Close the conversation by reminding both of you of the point agreed on:

"So, we have decided that if you see a problem which could cause a delay, your first task is to let me know so we can work on a solution together, right?"

This is the basis for a next, incoming conversation, if the agreement doesn't hold, so you can use this phrase to begin the new conversation about this person not fulfilling his side. The tone of voice has to be calm, secure and definitive.

Neil Warner

Neil Warner

I'm the “relationship guru,” and my main focus is to increase the quality of love-based relationship experiences. In this ground-breaking guide I offer useful strategies on healing a difficult angry relationship with love and compassion. You don't have to stay in an unhealthy relationship one more minute. Let us share our tools with you today.

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