Saturday, August 08, 2009

The Art of Caring Confrontation

by Sanford N. McDonnell
Source: Educational Leadership (Online July 2009 | Volume 66)
(article shared by Mrs Chew)
Have added my thoughts/response in blue

No one likes confrontation, I believe. Nevertheless, sometimes, it could not be avoided because everything would stand still without clearing that obstacle. Confrontation is never pleasant as more often than not, it challenges one's belief and what one values. Sometimes, it would just very quickly cause both parties to go into the defensive mood, be it really in that tone, or it's the imaginary tone that gets one perceive and respond accordingly.

Guidelines for Confrontation:
  • Confront caringly. Confront only after showing real care for the other person, and confront only to express genuine concern.
  • Yes, indeed, if one doesn't care, one won't bother to do such difficult job. This applies to both personal or professional matters.
  • For personal matter, if there yet exists a trusting relationship, one would not be confident that the well-intend would help to move the relationship to greater height. It could simply break everything!
  • For professional matter, confrontation takes place when there's differing interest from the organisation's goals? Sometimes, it's meant to save one from the jeopardising one's future!
  • Confront gently. Speak tactfully, in a way you would like to be spoken to about a sensitive matter. For example, say, "I understand where you are coming from. I have been there, too. May I make a suggestion?" Do not offer more than the relationship can bear or draw out more than you have put into the relationship.
  • Objectivity - and focus on the matter and not the person. Sometimes, it could be misinterpreted as the learner climbed up the ladder of inference.
  • Confront constructively. Make your positive intentions clear at the start to minimize the possibility that your comments may be interpreted as blaming, shaming, or punishing (negative aspects of most confrontation). For example, you might begin by saying, "John, you and I are good friends. What do you think about this idea?"
  • I guess, it also depends on the listener's "self-awareness". Sometimes, cushioning too much doesn't help. The message may not get through... and worst still, sometimes might backfire.
  • Confront with acceptance and trust. Assume that the other person's intentions are good even if his or her actions are problematic. Acknowledge good intentions by saying, for example, "I know you want to be helpful, but …"
  • To give assurance that we appreciates one's effort, but its impact/outcome simply turns out otherwise.
  • Confront clearly. Report what you actually observe, what emotions you feel or sense that others feel, and what you conclude would be a good next step for the person you're confronting. For example, "I heard what you said to Mary" (observation). "It seemed to hurt her feelings" (emotion). "I'm sure you didn't mean to hurt her. Please apologize to her" (conclusion).
  • I like this - it's sweet and short. To the point! I think many of us would be able to say the first sentence, fall short the conclusion (i.e. the follow-up action).

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