How to Handle Confrontation

Written by jennifer patterson
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How to Handle Confrontation
When confrontation is handled correctly, both parties can come to an understanding. (Jupiterimages/liquidlibrary/Getty Images)

Dealing with confrontation can be uncomfortable, but it is common to encounter confrontational situations. Confrontation is not always a bad thing -- when it is handled properly, it can resolve problems, build stronger relationships and help you communicate more effectively. Silence is sometimes the easiest way to handle confrontation, but this leaves the initial problem unresolved. By using certain effective strategies, you can both prevent confrontational situation from getting out of hand and resolve the underlying issues.

Skill level:

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  1. 1

    Deal with conflicts as soon as possible when they arise. Procrastination will only make the issue become worse. Plan a private face-to-face meeting when attempting to resolve an issue. Depending on the situation, you may find it more suitable to contact the other party by phone.

  2. 2

    Know your facts before confronting someone. Gather all the information that will be used to back up your argument. For example, if you are a manager, make sure that you thoroughly understand your company's policy.

  3. 3

    Keep a positive attitude during a confrontation. Instead of concentrating on who will be the winner, focus on reaching a mutual agreement. Be prepared to listen attentively throughout the encounter; try putting yourself in the other person's position. Maintaining a good attitude will make your confrontation feel more like a natural conversation and less like an argument.

  4. 4

    Clearly explain what you expect to get out of the conversation. Explain the solution that you believe will resolve the issue. Explore other alternative solutions that may also work. Discuss the possible pros and cons of each solution before coming to an agreement.

  5. 5

    Come to an agreement by choosing the solution that works best for both parties. Summarise the conversation so that everyone involved has a clear understanding. In formal settings, such as the workplace, it is helpful to put your agreed-upon solution in writing; this way, both parties can refer to the agreed-upon solution if further conflict arises. This will help prevent future confrontations.

Tips and warnings

  • Different levels of confrontation occur; but abuse should never be tolerated!
  • There are some situations in which confrontation is inappropriate; such as when the behavior is inappropriate toward you.
  • Learning to comfortably handle confrontation without avoidance may increase your level of credibility.
  • Understanding the distribution of power in a relationship will help you evaluate the use or impact of confrontation in a relationship.
  • Examine the situation to consider personal agendas.
  • You cannot mind read, so do not try and guess the other person's motive. Assertively asking for clarification is your best approach.
  • Confrontation is appropriate when dealing with inappropriate behavior.
  • Reframe confrontation and think of it as a negotiation.
  • Do not discuss issues when you or the other person are angry, tired or stressed, as this will escalate the situation.

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