The 5 Basic Steps of Confrontation (How To Do It Right)

Confrontation - The 5 Basic Steps of Confrontation. An image showing a women confronting a man

Confronting someone about an issue can be tough.

Sometimes we don’t know what to say, and when we do say something, it seems to go wrong.

How do you do it right?

If you look at different conflict resolution books, each one seems to have a different “method” and “take” on how to have the conversation.

However, if you look at the core of the methods, most of them have a common theme that we can follow.

Here are the 5 basic core steps of conflict resolution.

1. Prepare beforehand

It’s important to prepare before you have the conversation.

You need to make sure your motives are right and that you are going into the conversation with the right purpose. It’s important to write out and plan your message before you have it and to make sure you are separating fact from fiction.

You also need to look at what contribution you may have to the problem.

For more information on how to prepare for the hard conversation, check out our post on how to prepare.

2. Start off by giving the facts, not assumptions

It’s important to start off with the facts of the matter, not what you assume about the other person or their intentions. If you start with the assumptions, it’s likely to quickly turn into an argument, and you may never get to the facts.

Start with the facts of what happened. If someone ignored you or talked over you, say that the person talked or ignored you. Don’t say that they were being rude or that they always are ignoring you. Just state the facts.

3. Tell the story, how it made you feel, and how it affected you

After you tell the facts, tell your story, how it made you feel, and how it affected you. However, when you tell it, tell it tentatively, as an assumption or possibility, not fact.

“it seemed to me..”

“It came across to me as…”

When you give your story tentatively, it helps defuse defensiveness, because you aren’t accusing, but saying that you got the impression.

Also, share your emotions. If it hurts your feelings, let the other person know, but try to be specific. “It frustrates me” or “It makes me sad”, and so on.

You can also say how it affects you. If their behavior creates more work for you or makes it where you don’t feel like your input is cared for and so on, you can say that. But remember, try not to come across in a way that makes the other person feel you are attacking them.

4. Ask the other person for their viewpoint

Now that you have finished speaking, get the other person to speak – and listen. Don’t get defensive or argue or interrupt. Let them share their viewpoint on the situation and make sure you fully understand their viewpoint. Paraphrase and summarize to make sure you understand.

5. Work together to come to a solution to the problem

After each person understands the other person’s viewpoints, you work together on a solution. If it’s just the two of you, you want to come to a consensus if possible, a win/win. This is important because if one of the parties is not happy about the solution, they are more likely not to follow through.

You can do it

Those are the 5 basic steps of confrontation. Different books and sites may add steps or have different takes, but those are the core principles of most methods.

Prepare, tell the facts first, share your story, listen to the other person, and work together on a solution. Follow these, and you are on the way to handle conflict much better.

This week, if you have been avoiding a conversation, use these methods and fix the issue.

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