Responding to Confrontation

Most of us prefer to avoid confrontation. It makes us uncomfortable and creates a negative atmosphere. Unfortunately, there is a strong likelihood that a coworker will confront you at some point, perhaps even using harsh language. So it is a good idea to have strategies to work through that confrontation when it happens. You can use the following strategies in the order that seems most appropriate for the situation.

Strategy 1: Identify the reason for the confrontation.
This is an important step in resolving the underlying issue. In order to do this, you will need to be objective, focusing on facts and setting aside emotions and emotional language.

Sample phrasing:
"So as I understand it…"
"It looks like the issue here is…"
"Okay, what I hear you saying is…"

Strategy 2: Recognize the other person's concerns and emotions.
By doing this, you will validate your coworker's feelings and make that person more receptive to what you have to say.

Sample phrasing:
"I can see you are concerned about this."
"I understand why you're dissatisfied with/ how you're impacted by…"
"In your situation, I might also be frustrated by…"

Strategy 3: Express your interest in resolving the issue.
This can not only defuse an emotional situation but also focus both parties on problem solving.

Sample phrasing:
"I share your concern and I'd like to help resolve this issue."
"This is a significant problem that definitely requires our attention."
"I realize this is important, so let's see if we can work something out."

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