What do you think of when you hear the word “confrontation?” If you picture harsh words, yelling, and tears, know this: It doesn’t have to be that way. According to corporate coach Esther Jeles, confrontation isn’t about telling someone off or setting them straight. It’s about looking at issues and solving problems. So here’s a step-by-step plan that’ll help you confront someone without starting a fight, courtesy of Oprah’s O Magazine:
- Before you confront another person, you need to define the problem and make sure you focus on the actual issue – not the emotions you feel because of the issue. So if you stayed up all night finishing your co-worker’s half of a sales report, the issue is that they didn’t do their share of the work. Not that you’re furious because you stayed up all night.
- If you start screaming at your co-worker about the sales report – along with every mistake they’ve made in the past year -that’s not a confrontation. It’s an assault. So before you approach them, practice expressing the problem in a clear, calm way. You can do a couple of run-throughs in front of the mirror before you leave for work.
- Then, when you’re ready to confront the person: Offer an invitation to talk, but don’t say “We need to talk NOW!” Instead, try something like “I’d like to discuss something with you. Do you have a few minutes?” Also, suggest speaking in a private place where you can shut the door.
- During the confrontation. Explain your problem without blaming or accusing the other person. So say something like “I may not have all the information, but it seems like I did more than my share of the sales report. What do you think?” Then, listen to what they have to say. The two of you should continue to take turns calmly sharing your thoughts until you reach a solution.
Remember: This doesn’t just apply to work situations. You can use this approach when confronting a friend, spouse, or family member, too. The more you practice calm confrontation, the easier it’ll be to solve problems.