Have you ever been confronted by something you wrote, texted or tweeted? If you haven’t you’re probably in the minority. I’m sure you realize that everything you text, email, snap and tweet become part of your digital footprint and many times can’t ever truly be permanently erased. Sure, you can delete the tweet, but someone could have taken a screenshot and re-posted it. What we publish many times can’t be taken back.
A few years ago I received some great coaching that I have used with family, friends, and in my work. When you are needing to confront on something that could be a potentially difficult conversation, do it verbally – preferably face-to-face. If you’re going to affirm or give kudos to someone, do it in writing. That way it’s something they can cherish, save and share.
Confrontation 101: Confront verbally. Affirm in writing. Use the golden rule as a touchstone.
Why Confront Verbally?
Let’s use the golden rule as a reason for this. Treat people the way you’d want to be treated, right? Nobody likes to be confronted. But the way we confront matters. Here are some tips to confront well:
- Plan out what you want to say. Write it out. Don’t wander.
- Keep it short. I’m talking ten minutes, max. Stick to the script and make it fast. Get your point across and get moving on.
- Be respectful. No matter if they are a subordinate, child, or co-worker. Just because you have something to confront on, doesn’t give you license to light someone up.
- Stick to the facts. Don’t get in the weeds with things like what other people are doing, what’s fair or not fair, etc. The person you’re talking to may try to derail the conversation. Stay focused on the key message.
- Watch your tone. Tone matters. I’ve been married for 22 years now. Trust me. I’ve learned that how I say is worth 50% of what I say. Keep it a positive tone when you’re confronting. Keep tone focused on what’s next. When I’m confronted, I want to know what the issue is and then I want to move forward. Keep the tone focused on what’s possible and where to move from here. Don’t stay negative and accusatory.
- Clarify. As you meet with the person, ask them what their thoughts are. You don’t want to be lectured, so don’t do it when you confront. Make it conversational. And make sure at the end, both of you are on the same page and are clear as to expectations and next steps.
- Actively Listen. You may have things you need to address, but there could be stuff going on you’re not aware of. Maybe the staff person is consistently late to work and you’re addressing tardiness. Try to get to the heart. Why are they late? What’s going on in their lives? I know several coworkers I’ve struggled with lately have had significant personal challenges that had been affecting their work. It changes my tone and helps me be sensitive as I attempt to address the specifics of what my expectations are.
It’s always easier to be passive aggressive and tweet, text or email confrontation. Fight against this. Treat people how you’d want to be treated. Respect them. Listen to them. Plan your conversation. Stay focused. The more you do this, the more you’ll model the way you expect to be treated – and confronted.
Continue the Conversation
What would you add to this list? Take away? Care to share a story of how this worked or backfired? Add your comments below.