Confrontation can be as painful for leaders as it is for the person they confront. But successful confrontation is an art. Leading a person to “see” his shortcoming and “feel” safe enough to admit it, requires an understanding and respect of human personality, transparent honesty, and a good sense of timing. Here’s a few suggestions to help ease you through that difficult conversation you know needs to happen:
· Consider the age, mindset, feelings, etc. of the person you confront. If you were in their place, how would you prefer to hear this information?
· Make a list of the feelings you expect them to have both before and after your talk. This will help you design the confrontation approach.
· Make some notes about what you want to say, but try to memorize them or have them set aside discreetly. Reading from a list of a person’s faults can demoralize the person.
· Find the right time and place. Not in front of others, unless you have already tried the private route several times. Not via texting or even a phone call. If I’m confronting with an email, I usually preface it with an oral heads-up that I want to send a sensitive email. None of us like painful surprises.
· Expect the person to be defensive, to make excuses, to blame others. It’s natural—they feel attacked. Let them go through these feelings and express them. Don’t condemn them for feeling defensive.
· Give the person time to process the information. Some people will react humbly in your presence and feel rage later on. Others will be enraged immediately, but after they calm down, they realize the truth.
· Don’t expect everyone to understand and appreciate you for a sensitive confrontation.
· Remain calm. Even if they start accusing you, avoid becoming defensive or angry.
Think of confrontation as leading a person from a desert to an oasis, not just in their thoughts, but in their feelings. The journey may include some rugged climbs and scorching sands. Keep the destination in mind. Inspire the vision of the oasis in the person so he becomes a willing participant in the journey.