Basic Principles to Remember:

(1) The 30 Second Rule: The first 30 seconds in a confrontation, or your response to being confronted, will determine whether or not productive dialogue will even begin.

(2) Remember your body language: 7% of communication is verbal and 93% is nonverbal. Nonverbal language includes facial expression, tone of voice, the positioning of your body, personal space, gestures, etc.  If the word content conflicts with the nonverbal message, the nonverbal message will control.

(3) Eye level: If you can, never approach from a higher level.  Sit down at a table.  Sitting down at a table is a great body diffuser alone.  It fosters respectful body posturing.

(4) Listen, Think and Respond: Listen for the full content of the sentence before responding.  Remember that once words are said, they cannot be taken back.

(5)  The 3 A's of effective confrontation:

AFFIRMATION: Affirm the value of the other individual and do not undermine the other in words or actions.  Also affirm the challenges the other person may be facing as well as your own. Affirm and respect the feelings of the other.

ACKNOWLEDGMENT:  Acknowledge the other person's opinion or position.  Even if you disagree with one another, you both are entitled to your own opinion.  Try to find a common ground to build from.

ACCOUNTABILITY:  Take responsibility for any areas in the situation that you need to be accountable for.  If you have said something or done something that has created a defense, acknowledge and be accountable.

(6) The Four C's:

Civil:  Be respectful.  If disrespect is shown, you will create an immediate defensive reaction and the wall of defense will not allow productive dialogue.

Clear: Listen, think and respond.  Slow down your speech and think before you speak.  Slow down your speech if you are upset.

Calm:  Keep breathing to keep your body relaxed.  If you do not breathe, your brain will not receive the needed oxygen to stay clear.  If you allow your body to tense and your emotions to escalate, you will not be able to productively dialogue.

Concise: Do not use exaggerations or false accusations.  Stay focused on the present and not the past.  Stay focused on the current situation.  Stay focused on solution more than on the problem.

(7) The Four W's

What are you feeling in clear, short, concise sentence.  Do not expect the other to accept or understand how you feel.  However, you do need to state how you feel in order to feel heard.

What is the situation that is causing you to feel the way you do.  Clearly articulate why you are responding the way you are.

What are you willing to do to address the situation.  If you do not state what you are willing to do to resolve a situation before making a request of the other, you will create a defense rather than foster dialogue.  A conflict never has only one side.

What are you asking of the other person in order to reach a resolution.  Look for a common ground that addresses the challenges and needs of all persons involved.

(8)  AARC PRINCIPLE: Bridge of Acceptance; Bridge of Connection, Bridge of Tolerance = ACT (What you think on, you will act upon.  Act upon; do not react)

Accept the right of another to have an opinion different from your own and treat the needs of the other with equal validity.

Appreciate the differences and build upon the strengths of the differences rather than depreciating the value of one another.  No two persons are alike.  It is what makes the world an interesting place to live.

Respect one another in all communication.  Remember that words can heal or hurt, destroy or mend.  Monitor your words:  Are they adding fuel to the fire?  Are they critical or demeaning?  Are they respectful?  Are you demanding or are you suggesting and respecting?

Communicate towards a mutual goal and solutions.  Do not focus on the problem.  Focus on solutions, while affirming, acknowledging and taking accountability.

If you have the luxury of planning a confrontation for important issues, use the 10 step problem solving process in the article named "Productive Journaling."  This will help you prepare an effective opening statement.  Your opening statement should contain the 3 A's and the 4 What's.

Confrontation Guidelines:

  • Always -- self preparation first, if you can.
  • Plan your opening statement using the above principles and practice it out loud in front of the mirror or to someone you trust to be honest with you.
  • Confront the issue and do not attack the person.
  • Own your feelings by using "I" statements and avoid blaming, accusing or inflammatory statements.
  • Allow for a defense, because it will likely happen.  Do not get upset.  Allow the defense to happen.
  • Acknowledge, affirm, suggest and respect, and restate your opening statement to regain focus.
  • Never confront when you are angry.  Be sure you are in control of your emotions before confronting any situation.
  • If things get hot, take a break.  However, set a time to meet again after everyone calms down.
  • Remember that conflict escalates; it rarely de-escalates if it is not addressed and resolved.
  • Stay positive and refuse to get negative.  Stay focused on the current issues and do not revisit the past.

If you are being confronted:

  • Stay calm and draw down your emotional defenses.
  • Ask yourself if there is some truth in what is being said.  If it has truth in it, acknowledge what is true and be accountable where necessary.
  • You can admit partial blame, but you should not take blame for anything you do not honestly feel responsible for.
  • If you remain honest and keep your defenses down, you will gain integrity rather than lose it.
  • Lower the defenses to begin dialogue.
  • Work towards mutually acceptable solutions.
  • Avoid power struggling.  No one wins in a power struggle and everyone loses.

Law of Opposites:

  • If someone is unkind, respond in kindness
  • If someone is berating and negative, stay solution-focused and avoid defending yourself.  Your integrity in your responses will affirm you.
  • If someone is harsh and unfair, refuse to retaliate or take revenge.
  • Harsh words that attack will destroy; productive, honest, and kind words will prevail.  If nothing else, you will sleep with a clear conscience.




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