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 this person out or ignoring their behavior 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 “asshole 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 from your point of view). It focuses on how the person’s behavior impacts you and others. So it becomes 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 this person we have an opportunity to reframe the interaction and move forward.

Here is the Caring Confrontation tool that might work for you. The basis of this Smart-Step tool is to share your reality and gather information to understand the other person’s issues and 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 focusing on the disruptive behavior.

4. Identify where you have agreement or disagreement and what the root cause of the problem.

5. Take the problem and create possible solutions.

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

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 change goal?
  • 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?
  • What would be a good resolution?
  • How would you measure success in resolving the conflict?
  • When are you or other th person going to check-in on progress?
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