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How to Confront With Skill

Updated on June 5, 2010

Skillful Confrontation

Few people really like to, or feel comfortable with confronting issues directly. This discomfort usually comes from not really knowing how to confront the conflict situation without making it worse. I completely understand that concern. Still, we have to learn how to confront with skill if we want to resolve conflicts and build relationships.

This lens offers specific communication tips you can use to confront skillfully to resolve conflicts quickly.

Photo courtesy of www.sxc.hu

Why Bother?

Conflicts never get resolved by ignoring them and hoping that they go away.

Someone has got to do the courageous thing and confront the issue. The someone can be you.

Learn to Practice Assertive Communication

Assertive communication lies in the middle zone between aggressive communication on one extreme and passive communication on the other. When you communicate assertively, you communicate your thoughts, wishes, desires, feelings, and thoughts without stepping on another person. You own your emotions without blaming anyone else for what you feel. You accept responsibility, and you hold other accountable. Unconditional respect for everyone (both you and the other person) forms the foundation for effective and assertive communication.

Assertive Communication Rules

  • Use "I" statements.

  • Focus on behaviors.

  • Keep responses short.

  • Monitor your tone of voice.

  • Watch non-verbal messages.

  • Listen!

  • Maintain eye contact.

  • Respect the other person.

Assertive Communication Examples - The general flow is: "When you ___, I feel ___."

For example:

  1. "When you speak to me that way, I feel disrespected."

  2. "When you point at me, I feel threatened."

  3. "When you raise your voice, I feel afraid."

  4. "When you slam the door, I feel angry."

Be Specific and Focus on Behaviors

Vague, non-specific statements of impresssions or perceptions don't usually help the situation.

Make sure your comment(s) address a specific, observable behavior so that the other person knows exactly what you're talking about.

What If They Don't Respond Well To The Confrontation?

What if? Does their response really matter?

Your responsibility is to get the conflict out into the open so that it can be resolved. You have no control over the other person. Just do the best you can to find the assertive middle ground between passivity and aggression. Then, let the "chips fall where they may."

Here's a possible outcome to your confrontation statement.

They might say, "Well, you shouldn't feel/think that."

You can say, "You may be right, and I still feel the way I feel. Thank you for listening."

If you continue to respectfully confront issues without getting drawn in to an angry or overly emotional response, most people will start to get the point and respect your position. Some won't. Most will.

A Personal Note

Yes, I know it's uncomfortable. It is for me as well. It's still good to know how to confront skillfully.

What do you think? Any comments or suggestions? What is your experience with confronting conflicts?

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    • TimothyArends profile image

      Timothy Arends 5 years ago from Chicago area

      Interesting that you say that you do not by nature, enjoy interacting with people. You must be an introvert. I am too!

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      Thank you for this! I'm not good at confrontations and the best thing I ever came up with is sending out an anonymous hate mail to my rude co-worker through this site called ihatemycoworker.com.