How to Hold a Constructive Confrontation at Work

July 24, 2015

How to Hold a Constructive Confrontation at Work

Nobody wants confrontation in the workplace, but sometimes it’s unavoidable.

But whatever your reasoning for needing to confront somebody – whether it’s to highlight something they are doing that they are unaware of, or whether it’s to challenge deliberately negative behaviour – there are three tips you can follow, that will help you to find an appropriate resolution, while keeping your confrontation constructive and respectful.

1. Articulate The Issue

Before you approach the person in question, you need to make sure you’re able to clearly explain exactly what the issue is. To do this, try summing it up into just one or two concise statements. These statements should be free from any emotional influence, and based on simple facts – for example:

Instead of saying: “I hate it that you’re always helping yourself to other people’s food. Don’t you realise how many people you’re upsetting!?”

You might want to say: “I’ve noticed you taking other people’s food without permission on 4 different occasions. Two staff members have come to me expressing a concern that their food is going missing.”

2. Listen to the Full Response

Once you’ve explained the issue to the person in question, then it is important to let them respond.

It’s really easy to blatantly object to whatever they’re saying, but even if their response sounds totally ridiculous, it’s important you let them have their say without interruption. They have every right to explain things from their perspective, and you might even discover something you were unaware of.

3. Avoid Arguments by Focusing on Facts

Once you have delivered your initial statement and heard the other person’s response, you should aim to work out a resolution without letting yourself get drawn into an argument. Arguments are most commonly caused when two people have different opinions, so the best way to avoid them, is to focus on facts.

For example, rather than getting into a heated debate about whether or not you agree with the person’s actions from a moral standpoint, you might want to refer to your company’s staff handbook, or find relevant company policies that cover whatever issue you’re discussing.

And instead of thinking of it as a confrontation, try thinking of it as a constructive discussion – it’s surprising how much difference this subtle change in perspective can make.

Stay ahead with HR

Get free HR insights, expert tips and exclusive interviews, and start making more impact at work

Please enter a valid email address

See People HR in action

View our short video demo

Get started absolutely free

No credit card required

Talk with an expert to learn how People HR could help your organisation