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Part VII: Assertive Confrontation > Five Tools for Successful Confrontation

Chapter 19. Five Tools for Successful Confrontation

To resolve situations such as these, the confronter needs to inform the other person about the behavior, and the results of that behavior, in such a way that the person feels respected and will be more likely to respond cooperatively. The following tools will help you learn to confront behaviors in just this manner.

  1. Identify which assertive style will work best.

    Which type of personality will you be addressing? The confrontation will be more successful if you use the other person’s natural style. The analytical style is recommended for both the analytical and the directing/guiding types of people. A directive approach is a little strong for confrontational situations.

  2. Define the specific behavior to be confronted.

    Identify what the other person does that you wish he or she did not do, or what the person does not do that you wish he or she did. Define what the person does differently from the way you would prefer. Avoid using judgmental or accusatory words. Be factual.

    Example: Factual descriptions of the behaviors from the two preceding examples: making disparaging remarks and arriving after the starting time.
    Practice: Use a current or recent problem situation in your own life that involves another person and describe the behavior of this person.


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  3. Describe the results of the behavior.

    What undesirable impact does the behavior have on you? Does it cost you time, money, effort? Does the behavior affect productivity, customer service, quality, or morale? It is important to identify how the behavior contributes to a problem so you can explain to the other person why you want him or her to change. These are the logical, rational reasons for changing that enable the other person to consider altering his or her behavior without feeling attacked or judged.

    Example: Terry’s behavior creates stress for other family members, which may affect their health. It also sets an example that younger children may follow and invites bad feelings, rather than an open discussion of alternatives. Rosa’s behavior disrupts discussion and sets an example.
    Practice: Using the same problem described in Step 2, identify two or three possible results of the person’s behavior.


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  4. Identify your own feelings.

    When the behavior of others creates a problem for you, it is natural to have some feelings about the situation. These emotions will most likely be negative, rather than positive, and it is important for you to be aware of them, to acknowledge them, and to express them. Denying feelings and holding them in only creates problems. You can do this so much that you experience physical symptoms such as sleeplessness, headaches, or worse. When you do finally let out these pent-up feelings, you may do so inappropriately and regret what you say and do.

    Telling someone how you feel actually adds power to your confrontation. Remember the lessons from Part 3 about how to identify your feelings and how to express them with “I” statements.

    Example: Concerned that our family will not enjoy dinner together, disappointed and annoyed about the late arrivals.
    Practice: Using the same real problem you used in Step 2, identify your feelings toward the other person and about the results of the behavior or other aspects of the situation, and write them as “I” statements.


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  5. Define the goal you hope to accomplish.

    It is not enough to confront someone about his or her behavior; you must get a commitment from the person to change. Without this commitment, you have accomplished little beyond getting something “off your chest” (which is okay, but not enough to resolve the problem). What do you want? Do you want the other person to stop the behavior in question? Do you want the person to do something other than what he or she has been doing? Do you want some ideas from him or her about how to resolve the problem? This last approach is strongly recommended, because people are most likely to follow through with a change that was their own idea!

    A final suggestion for this element of the confrontation is to ask for what you want. As stated earlier, a command is a little strong for most people in a confrontation.

    Example: “Will you please give me some suggestions for meals, Terry? Are you willing to be responsible for preparing dinner one evening each week? I would appreciate your help.”
    Practice: Decide what you want in your problem situation and write your request below.


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