How to Confront Someone

Most of us don’t enjoy it, but knowing how to confront someone is a life skill that encourages productivity in the workplace, strengthens relationships, and builds trust. While confrontation has often had a reputation as being harmful or a relationship killer, the truth is, learning how to calmly confront someone is necessary for healthy relationships – whether in life or work. It may feel easier to remain silent, to not ruffle any feathers, but confrontation is a necessary means to ensure we all get along in the long run. In this article, we’ll give you the long and short of confrontation, including how to confront someone and confrontation examples. But first, what exactly is confrontation?

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Confrontation Definition

The definition of confrontation is: an open conflict of opposing ideas, forces, or people. Based on this definition, you want to run right out and confront someone, right? Probably not. Most of us prefer a peaceful life without the interruption of confrontation.

So, what is confrontation then? Confrontation usually involves a face-to-face discussion with another person to discuss and resolve a situation that is not going as expected. Confrontation is often needed to remedy situations and behaviors, and to help establish healthy boundaries. Confrontation is also often needed to ensure resentment or bitterness doesn’t form and show up in other ways such as passive aggressive behaviors.

Fear of Confrontation

Most people don’t want to confront anyone about anything. It is natural to veer towards being non confrontational to avoid conflict and keep the peace – even at our own detriment. However, to ensure your success personally and professionally, you will need to face the fear of confrontation head on. We all want to be liked, and we don’t want someone to push us away if we confront them. However, in respectful relationships, we need to be able to have honest and truthful conversations to resolve conflict.

Confrontation Examples

Confrontation examples in the workplace and at home are easy to find. As a manager, you may need to communicate with an employee about how her lack of punctuality to client meetings is impacting client satisfaction and is not acceptable. Another confrontation example in the workplace may involve confronting a colleague about how their negativity is impacting the team’s camaraderie. At home, you may need to have a discussion with your spouse about his/her spending habits.

How to Confront Someone

Here are some tips to consider prior to confronting someone:

Take time to consider the issue and whether or not it requires confrontation. You may want to get something off of your chest immediately, but it is often better to step away and let emotions settle before engaging in confrontation.

Consider the timing and location. No one likes surprises, and confrontations require finesse when it comes to timing. For example, your employee probably doesn’t want to be confronted on an issue out of the blue. We recommend asking about when a good time would be to meet. Additionally, ensure the location for the confrontation is neutral and private.

Use “I” statements such as “I noticed you were late for the last few meetings and I am wondering why”. Using “I” statements avoids putting someone on the defensive, which can cause a confrontation to go wrong quickly.

Keep your message simple and only address the issue at hand. Don’t bring up past offenses or problems. Use as few words as possible and allow the person you are confronting to respond.

When confronting someone, listen intentionally to their response without thinking about what you will say next. Take time to carefully craft a response. This can keep things from escalating and emotions from hijacking over the conversation.

Give the person you confront some time to process what you said. Sometimes people need time to process, especially internal processors. You may need to schedule a follow-up conversation to ensure there are no further concerns between the two of you. A follow-up conversation may also be necessary if you don’t think what you have to say is resonating well or if emotions are starting to take hold. Remaining calm is critical to coming to resolution during a confrontation.

Confrontation – Not Usually Loved but Needed

Learning how to confront someone is one of the most important skills you can build upon for your success in personal relationships and your career. Fear of confrontation is real, but understanding that fear does not get to control you is the first step in ensuring you are able to have bold communication with others. Being able to be confronted is equally important. Listening is key to a successful resolution! If your organization would benefit from training on healthy confrontation, we can help. At Management Consulted, we offer different corporate training packages for F1000 teams and organizations. Learn more and reach out today!


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Filed Under: Consulting skills, Corporate Training