How to Handle a Scary Confrontation
There is a misconception out there that workplace confrontation is a bad thing. I would disagree. Avoiding conflict or being combative is not good, but dealing with our differences in a healthy way? That is a great thing for an organization. Here are just a few of my suggestions for how to handle a “Scary” Confrontation:
- Be Aware of Differences – If a coworker confronts you, or you need to discuss a problem with a subordinate, try this mental exercise first: Imagine the person at home. Are they dealing with additional stress outside of work? Does their cultural or generational context cause them to see things differently? This exercise does not mean you should avoid a confrontation, but it will help you to be more diplomatic.
- Ask A Question – If someone is rude or confrontational when they approach you, try responding to their aggression with a question. Ask the person to clarify their statement or give more information. This allows them to reflect on what they are feeling and often opens a path to compromise.
- Reframe the Conversation – Many times, conflict escalates because of miscommunication. I suggest you first paraphrase a complaint in your own words. Use phrases like “What I hear you saying…. ” This gives a person time to rephrase their complaint and prevents you from giving a defensive, emotion-heightening response.
- State the Facts –Instead of accusing someone of wrongdoing, give specific examples about a coworker’s words or behavior that influenced the conflict. Avoid exaggerating words such as always or never.
- Shoot for Compromise – There should not be a winner and loser in conflict resolution. If there is, something probably did not go right. Workplace conflict should end with a solution that both parties can live with.
Unresolved conflict can lower productivity, decrease employee satisfaction and ultimately have a negative effect on your bottom line. Conflict Management is a big part of my role as an Executive Success Coach – contact me to help your Metro Atlanta organization reach its maximum potential.