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Do You Tiptoe Around Sensitive Issues?

5 Tips for Effective Confrontation

Nobody enjoys confrontation, not even the most direct leaders.

But do you know what is worse than tiptoeing around sensitive issues? Two things:

1. Not addressing them at all.

2. Not addressing them effectively.

How do you know what is a sensitive issue?

If it negatively affects people's mental, emotional, physical, relational, financial ability to contribute and deliver, yet there seems to be a reluctance to address it, it is a sensitive issue.

And it needs addressing.

Something may have already come to mind and you're squirming now, thinking, "Modesta! Why are you making me face these things?!"

Because you and the people under your leadership will be better off after you do.

“You can't change what you refuse to confront.”


Here are 5 Tips to Effective Confrontation:

1. Confirm the Standard

What is the set standard of expectation that is being breached?

If you do not have a set standard (vision, values, policies, procedures, terms, and conditions) expect people to create their own.

You can't hold people accountable to a standard that does not exist.

2. Identify the Deviation

What is the specific observable undesired behavior that is being displayed?

Don't target the person, target the behavior.

Don't make generalizations such as "You are X, You always Y". Zero-in on the specific, observable undesired behavior they displayed during a specific incident.

3. Convey the Effect

What is the effect of that undesired behavior on relationships and results?

Phrase what you are confronting this way:

"When you do X, it does Y to Z."

"When you scream at your managers, it disrupts work, affects their self-esteem and ability to concentrate and deliver, and creates a culture of disrespect."

4. Address As Soon As Practicable

"Justice delayed is justice denied."

Unless you have to conduct a lot of research or follow a long process (because it is policy, and not because you are stalling out of discomfort), address the indiscretion as soon as it occurs.

If this is something new or isolated, it will nip it at the bud and stop it from growing. Addressing it as close to the incident as possible also increases the chances of the details and injury being fresh in mind, for ownership and redress.

5. Enforce Consequences

What is the consequence of displaying the undesired behavior?

There needs to be a cause and effect of behavior, good or bad, or people won't have the motivation and reinforcing structure to behave well and not behave unwell.

If you set standards at the beginning, you would have also set the consequences for breach of those standards.

It is time to reinforce them clearly, comprehensively, and consistently.

Don't be vague, don't go halfway, and don't overlook some of the time, and enforce occasionally.

For the confrontation to be effective, enforce consequences clearly, comprehensively, and consistently.

Just remember to be respectful and polite, seeking to restore, and not tear apart.

Need Help to Addressing a Sensitive Issue?

Whether the issue is with you, your leader or reports, schedule a Strategy Session with Modesta to work through your most pressing challenge, and create a roadmap to its effective resolution.

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