Tuesday, January 10, 2012

4 Secrets to End Confrontations with a Smile

The touchiest and most uncomfortable of situations is most certainly confrontation. Discomfort permeates the confronter, while pain and discomfort overwhelms the confronted. After the dust settles, hard feelings remain.

The buck always stops with the leader, and with that comes the responsibility of holding others accountable.  Accountability is not always positive, but it is a key requirement of leadership. Whether you serve as a teacher leader, campus leader, or district leader, the work of moving people forward requires us all to confront people who fail or refuse to move forward. 

Here is where the problem begins.  Leaders screw up confrontation when they confront people in a way that makes them feel like the confrontation is about the person instead of the behavior or issue at hand.  In order to make confrontations successful, leaders need to consider 4 secrets if they want to successfully address and redirect the behavior. 

1.  Tone

Tone makes up 90% of our communication; therefore, we need to make sure that our tone is positive and supportive while at the same time direct.  The confronted must receive our message in such a way that doesn't allow them to perceive that the communication within our message is negative or aggressive in manner. 

2.  Why 

State the issue that is being confronted and why the confrontation is necessary.  The person being confronted deserves to know how their behavior affects others.  Preserving consistency, maintaining order and promoting a positive culture are pretty important reasons to hold people accountable. 

3.  Rapport

Maintaining rapport is the goal during confrontation, but it's not always attainable. Irrational people typically take confrontation personally no matter how hard we try, so sometimes the less said is the best said. In difficult situations, it is critical to simply state the issue, correct it,  ask for questions or clarification, and move on. 

4.  Close

Confrontations can grow more negative the longer they take.  Once we have addressed the issue, we need to close the confrontation by thanking them for their time, acknowledging the discomfort and encouraging hope for moving forward. Taking time to close the confrontation maintains the dignity of the confronted and offers opportunities for both parties to ensure that the relationship can be maintained.

Confrontation with a Smile

Confrontation should never be about disrespect or flexing supervisory muscle, but it must always be about consistently maintaining the dignity of the entire organization.  If the leader confronts all in the same positive way every time, the message is clear that the leader cares most about improving the organization while preserving a focused culture. If leaders can make confrontation about moving people forward rather than correcting people, they will always be able to do it with a smile. Smiles will always have a better chance of emerging from all parties because confrontation will not be about condemning people but improving them, and that is something all of us could use when we are being confronted.