So this is it. Your big moment. The moment you are going to talk to that co-worker about what they’ve been messing up in your department. Your pits are sweating; you’re hoping you don’t throw up, and you clench your fists. And then…nothing. You walk in the other direction and return to the safety of your cubicle.
Ladies, we have believed the lie over the years that confrontation is an inherently bad thing. That if you confront someone, that means you blow up, get overly aggressive, and leave someone in tears in the wake of your destruction. That is not the case. There are plenty of ways to politely and effectively confront someone. So what are the right steps to take to confront someone? And more importantly, how do you know when it’s time to confront someone?
How Can You Tell
Consider Your Emotions
It is important to consider your emotional state when thinking about confronting someone. Are you someone who cries every time Sarah McLachlan’s voice cues in that dog commercial? Or are you someone who has never cried? You need to make sure that what you are confronting someone about is a real issue that needs to be addressed, not something you have fabricated in your emotional head.
Has it been something that has been bothering you for awhile?
If your friend has repeatedly been hurting you, in the same way, it is appropriate and essential for your friendship that you talk to them about it. Most people will want to know if they are doing something to offend you. Don’t be passive aggressive. If you care about your relationship, talk to them about how they are hurting you.
Other people have noticed it
It might be helpful, though not in a gossipy way, to talk about your feelings and the reason for confronting someone over with a trusted loved one. This is where your mom, best friend from home, or other relatives come in handy. Talk the situation over with them and let them give you wisdom about if a confrontation is truly necessary. If you have friends or colleagues who are in a similar position, again being careful not to overly gossip, ask if they have noticed the same behavior or problems that you have. If they agree, you might not have to lead this confrontation alone.
It is greatly impacting your life
This can take several different meanings. It could be a problem if you are obsessively thinking about it all the time. Especially right before you go to sleep or right when you get up in the morning. If you are just spewing hate about a particular individual to all your friends and family, it might be better just to talk to them about it. If your attitude cannot be positive because of the issues you are facing with this person, a confrontation is in order.
All relationships face conflict, especially healthy ones, so confrontation is like medicine for your relationship. But though there are plenty of times that confrontation is appropriate, there are also times it is not. Sometimes something little that is bothering you in one of your friends is not something they can easily fix or is something that will just make them self-conscious. For example, you might not want to tell your friend she should start waxing her upper lip unless you know she would appreciate that advice. Confrontation isn’t just about how you’ll feel afterward; it’s thinking how that person will feel too.
After you have accessed that a confrontation could be the best solution for you, here is the way you can go about it.
Steps To Confrontation
Set A Time
You don’t want to send a text that only says, “can we talk,” because that is just going to freak the person you are talking to out. And you might just be confronting them about something minor. Ask if there is a time you can hang out, or if they are a colleague, set up a meeting with them over the day to “go over things.” This can help you not to back out when the time comes. Also, it means your confrontation doesn’t have to be rushed.
Write Out What You Want To Say
In the heat of the moment, you may freeze up or be afraid to say all that you really need to. Write down what you need to say, and even rehearse what you are going to say out-loud or in your mind.
Start Out Kindly
Ease the mood by saying something like, “you know you’re one of my best friends,” or “I appreciate all you do around the office,” before diving into what they’ve been doing wrong.
Talk In A Calm Voice
There is no need to raise your voice; your words can get the point across just as well. Also, people react better and are more apt to change if you correct them gently.
Get It Off Your Chest
Not to be cliche, but say what you need to say. Remember what you have practiced and written down, and say all of that. If it was important enough for you to think about saying, it’s important enough to bring up.
Listen To Them
Give them time to talk after you’re finished. Hopefully, because you’ve kept calm, they will keep calm and not get too defensive. But let them defend what you are saying to them, or give them a chance to apologize. Be ready for them to list some things that might drive them crazy about you, and take them into consideration.
There is no need for there to be bad blood after a confrontation. Shake hands, hug, or joke about what just happened. Now that you have said what you needed to, it’s time for you to give them the chance to change. If they do change, leave this confrontation in the past. There is no need to keep bringing it up again and again.