The statement “we can’t conqueror what we are not willing to confront” is one that I have often heard and occasionally even used myself. I believe this statement to be true and want to offer a few thoughts on the topic of confrontation. I have often found myself on the receiving end of a confrontation gone wrong and can even admit that I have occasionally handled confrontation poorly myself.
As a leader, boss, father, husband and coach, I have been in many situations that needed confrontation. Whether one of my kids received a bad grade on their report card, an employee came up short on a project or there was something my wife and I needed to work through, how I handled the situation always determined the outcome of the the situation. Specifically, what I mean by this is that a smooth process in most cases corrects a rough problem, care and concern for the person normally creates care and concern in the person, and if you desire to create a new behavior in someone, you must first model the behavior yourself. Whether you’re confronting a 10 year old running back or a 40 year old manager, when it comes to confrontation, an offended coach, leader or parent will always cause those who they are confronting to be defensive.
Some things are easy. It’s easy to get mad, yell, fly off the handle, make yourself feel good, and point out bad behavior or poor performance in others. However, what’s not easy is being slow to anger, controlling your emotions, getting over hurts, and forgiving others when you’re frustrated. We always need to ask ourselves, “are we doing what’s easy or what’s not easy?”
So let’s come back to our opening statement: “we can’t conqueror what we are not willing to confront!” The question that every leader should ask him/herself is “Have I been a part of confrontation gone wrong? Have I contributed to feeling better about myself rather than leaving someone in a better place? Ultimately, am I willing to confront my issues with confrontation?”
As we tackle the subject of confrontation, here are three practices that you should consider employing.
3 Things Practices of Confrontation
1. Listen Before Deciding – The best thing you can do when confronting is listening first and deciding last. Be careful not to pre-determine the outcome of any confrontational conversation. I have found that many times a person’s heart may not reflect their actions. If you decide before listening, you could be reacting to a wrong action that has a right heart. In most cases I have found that having a right heart can be led to right actions. I have learned that I’d rather work with someone who has a right heart and wrong actions than someone who has right actions with a wrong heart!
2. Bring Life Rather Than Strife – Never confront anyone in any situation without the end goal being bringing life to that situation. Confrontation should always bring someone to a better place, not make you feel better. Here’s a good practice: “always choose life over strife!” Nothing good comes from yelling, losing your temper or intimidation. Remember this: actions that bring life cause people to grow, actions that bring strife cause people to go!
3. Focus On The Future, Not The Failures – When confronting, always paint a picture of how a different action could have caused a different outcome. Show the person how doing better next time can make amends for this time. Illustrate how failures can be used as powerful tools for a greater future. If you learn to look at problems as opportunities, you will see the potential of what things could be and not how things presently are.
Confrontation is something that can definitely go wrong, but if you’re willing to first confront yourself, it can definitely go right!