Caring Confrontation: 7 Steps for Resolving Conflicts with Difficult People

Maybe you feel insulted, ignored, angry at inappropriate behavior or just feed-up at the lack concern and respect shown toward you.

So what can we do be more constructive with this other person? We can’t keep shutting it out or ignoring it by but if this asshole behavior is such a powerful trigger, what are we supposed to do about it

One answer is to develop “thicker skin” which is okay in the short-term and yet does nothing to change the behavior or mollify your feelings. Over the long haul your frustration and anger just build up to a boiling point so that these pinches turn into a “crunch” or blow-up with this person and cause worse consequences. Another method is to develop “emotional resilience “, and it is based on cognitive and emotional assertiveness and a simple communication tool I call “caring confrontation”. What does this approach look like in action? It means developing the skill to share in a “matter of fact” way your feelings and make a request to the other person which is both leveling (your truth about the situation) and confronting ( clearly stating the problem form your point of view). It focuses on how this person impacts you and why it is important to find a mutually agreeable way to solve this relationship problem. ‘If we can share our feelings and make a non-emotional request with a person we have an opportunity to reframe the interaction and move forward.

Here is the Caring Confrontation tool that might work for you. Thr basis of this Smart-Step tool is to share your reality and understand the other person’s reality, so as to begin a creative problem solving conversation:

Caring Confrontation: Leveling and Support through Smart-Steps:

1. Get a blank piece of paper and  complete these 4 sentence stems to get clear on your feelings and needs in a difficult interpersonal situation…

I need…

I want…

I resent…

I demand…

2. After your completion and before you meet with the other person ask them to do the same activity of completing the incomplete stems.

3. Exchange your answers and discuss your different viewpoints

4. Identify where you have agreement or disagreement and what the problem is.

5.  Take the problem and create possible solutions.

6. Agree on the solution which works best works for both of you.

7. Create an Action Plan for Moving Forward–

  • Does the solution option interest the person enough to take positive action to change?
  • How will they go about executing actions to reach their goal of change?
  • What obstacles might get in their way and block the resolution of this issue?
  • How might they overcome these obstacles?
  • What support do they from you?
  • When are they going to check-in on their progress?

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