How important is confrontation to success?


In our culture, confronting someone is often seen as an unpleasant and difficult task. We would rather tiptoe around the “elephant in the room” and stay in the “safe zone”. Whilst it is not an easy thing to do, when done correctly, confrontation reaps great dividends in your business.

Why is confrontation sometimes necessary?

Because success depends more on people than we think

If for instance, you want to positively change your workplace culture, you may need to confront current behaviors, systems and the way people communicate. I have found that in every single case of a negative culture or positive culture, it is people who are both the problem and the answer! I have also found that the ones who either create negative or positive cultures are strong influencers, so confronting someone like that is not for the faint-hearted. These people are incredible assets to your business, but may need some adjusting in their mindset by confronting that mindset.

Confronting an issue provides clarity

One thing that is essential in a healthy work environment are clear expectations. Sometimes an employee or volunteer may not be fully aware of them. Other times, they may display behavior that is not in keeping with the workplace culture. Clarity is essential – and while flowcharts will provide some information and direction, it is the personal touch that will always communicate best.

Confrontation clears the air

In one organisation I worked with, there was a sub-culture, which was not part of the overall direction the business was heading. Whilst they were good people, the air needed to be cleared and their words/behavior in the work place needed to be in sync with the direction of the business. So I sat with each one and we talked about the direction of the business and the part that they were there to play.

How do we effectily confront?

It is one thing to be convinced that confrontation is sometimes very necessary and helpful, but it is quite another to confront in a way that not only addresses the issue, but leaves the person’s dignity intact also! So here are four ways to confront someone successfully and it goes without saying that it is always done face to face:

Confrontation always starts with praise

Sometimes, people dive right in and start confronting. This however, does not take into account that they are dealing with a person who has feelings. This is not a ploy to get the persons cooperation, but rather, they are valued in your business. When we start with praise, a person is much more likely to respond favourably.

Be very clear in your communication

It is always best to confront in a clear and concise manner. Too many people “beat around the bush” which actually makes things much harder for everyone involved. If it is a behavior that needs confronting for instance, then name that behavior.

Give them direction, not ultimatums

We help the person by giving them options in how to deal with an issue, rather than saying: “if you don’t do this, then…” Let the other person be involved in the solution and be there for follow-up and support.

Always finish with praise

See confrontation as a sandwich. Praise is the bread, confrontation is the filling. We can confidently confront when we know, and they know that we have both the person’s and our business’ best interest at heart.

Don’t be intimidated by confrontation. Confront when and where necessary and see your business flourish!

Robert Commandeur, Founder, Elephant In The Room