As hard as we try to move through life smoothly, keeping everyone smiling along the way, it's not always possible. In the course of our daily business and personal dealings, we will run into situations where someone is not happy (and that someone might be you), and we can't just keep running.
Confronting a client over an unpaid bill, an employee over lackluster performance, or a loved one over a spending concern is never easy, but it's necessary to do it as soon as possible to move past the issue to save you time and stress. Confrontations are just about my least favorite thing, so here are some tips for dealing with them as smoothly as possible.
Remember: It's Not Aggressive
Confrontations aren't usually comfortable, but that doesn't mean they're angry or aggressive. You don't have to go into it thinking you need to reprimand the other person or that she is going to act hostile toward you. You simply have something to say because you have an issue to resolve, and that can be done in a peaceful way between two adults.
Do It Now
Like most things in life, it's better to do it now, do it now, do it now. Waiting only gives the problem time to fester and it will serve to increase your stress and concern.
Write It Out
If you're anxious moving into the conversation, you might be more likely to forget an important point or to say something in a less-than-elegant way. Write it down first. This helps you get out any anger or frustration you might be feeling, and it allows you to organize your thoughts.
Make a Plan
Know what it is you need to accomplish by the end of the conversation. If your goals aren't clear, you won't get a clear resolution. If you say, "I don't appreciate the way you stack your papers" and you get a response like, "Okay" and you say, "Good talk" and walk away...has anything been resolved? Know what kind of action or agreement you need from the other person, and make sure you leave the conversation knowing you will get it.
Face It Head On
Don't skirt your responsibility with an email. Talk to the person in person. Hiding behind an email makes you look weak, and could make the other person wonder how seriously he should take your request if you aren't serious enough to meet with him face to face.
Stay Calm and Communicate Clearly
Avoid accusations and words like "never" and "always." A lot of the same principles we apply when fighting fair can also be applied during a confrontation (although we hope the confrontations aren't fights). There's no need to be overly friendly and smiley, and certainly not apologetic, but we also don't need to get angry, accusatory, or especially irritated.
Show some simple appreciation for the changes that are implemented as a result of the conversation.
How do you handle confrontation?