Effective and Healthy Confrontation Methods

We usually think of confrontation as an inherently bad thing. Confrontation really just means approaching someone about a problem. Sometimes when you confront people, even about things that aren’t their doing or their fault, they take it personally which can make the confrontation difficult.

We’ll go through as many healthy and confrontation methods as we can but the key take-away for all of them is to try not to make the individual feel personally responsible for the situation while still approaching them for a solution.

Focus on the Situation

The best way to confront someone without them feeling confronted is to talk about the situation rather than the individuals involved. Sometimes, things just don’t go right, and it isn’t anyone’s fault but one of the first things that we do is try to find someone to blame. By explaining the situation without naming or focusing on actors, you can try to prevent this system of blaming.

This system can protect you from the person that you are confronting, as they might blame you or feel that you are blaming them, but it also protects other individuals whom the person you are confronting may try to blame.

Focus on the Solution

A similar method is to focus on the importance of finding a solution.

When something goes wrong, many people immediately try to find someone to blame. This is usually based in personal insecurities. After all, if someone else did it, then it wasn’t your fault. However, if a solution can be found, it doesn’t need to be anyone’s fault. When you confront someone, try to focus – and keep them focused – on finding a solution rather than placing blame.

Use Passive Language

Another system that you can use is to utilize passive language. Passive language vs. Active language refers to the way that verbs are used in a sentence.

When using active language -- “Bob did this.” -- the verb immediately follows an actor making it easy to link the actions to the actor, even if the problem wasn’t the actor’s fault.

When using passive language -- “This was done (by Bob).” -- the action is named first, and the actor may not be named at all. This system isn’t just some word magic to bury someone at the end of the story that the person that you are confronting can’t find them. By talking about the action before the actor, you’re placing the emphasis on the situation rather than on the people involved. This stresses that the important thing is to find a solution to the problem, not simply place blame.

Keep Calm

Humans are social animals and we pick up social cues from those around us. As a result, if you go in visibly stressed and worried you are likely to make the person that you are confronting more stressed and worried. Instead, take a minute between discovering the problem and confronting the individual to calm yourself. If you go in cool and collected, the person that you are confronting is more likely to stay cool and collected.

Be Direct

Taking a moment to cool down, thinking about what you’re saying, and carefully choosing your words are all important. That doesn’t mean that you should be “beating around the bush” when you consult someone. Go in with a game plan and stick to it. Be honest and be direct.

Any time that you confront someone it can be scary. Indeed, any time that you confront someone it can go wrong. However, sometimes confronting people is the only way to solve a problem.

The question isn’t how to avoid confronting people, it’s how to communicate with people in effective and healthy methods that will find a solution to the problem and keep you and others safe.

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