Positive Confronting

Many people think confrontation is negative. Childhood sayings run through their
mind – for example, “If you cannot say anything nice about someone, don’t say
anything at all” or “Play nice.” These thoughts can get in the way of appropriate

If someone’s behavior is inappropriate, you do him or her a disservice by not
bringing it to his or her attention. Most, if not all, people want to know if their
behavior is counter-productive for achieving the desired results and contributing
to the team’s success. Here are some guidelines for effective confrontation:

  • Focus on specific issues or behaviors an employee can control. Avoid
    personal attacks
  • Deal with the facts. Avoid using rumors, innuendos, or sarcasm as a basis
    for confronting an employee.
  • Avoid inflammatory words such as should, ought to, have to, always,
    never, etc. Instead, focus on desired goals, results, and appropriate behavior.
  • Train yourself to listen for what’s important or key to the issue, and “block”
    words like those listed in the previous bullet point.
  •  Be direct without being rude, obnoxious, or otherwise offensive.
  • Treat the employee with dignity and respect and never show your anger.
    Remember, people will always remember how you made them feel long
    after the specific words are forgotten.
  • Help the employee develop a plan of action for correcting an unproductive
    situation or inappropriate behavior.
  • Approach the situation as soon as you have the facts and an opportunity
    to meet privately with the employee.
  • End your session by stating your belief that the employee will do better in
    the future.

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