Episode 22: Ten Tips for Constructive Confrontation


As entrepreneurs and business leaders we all have to deal with tough conversations from time to time. It’s not a fun thing to do and a lot of people struggle with confrontation, but thankfully it is a skill that we can learn and develop. Today we are going over the 10 tips on constructive confrontation from John Maxwell’s book, Developing the Leader Within You

Constructive confrontation can actually be a wonderful thing that helps your business to succeed. But there are some things to be aware of when addressing something with someone. Following these tips from John Maxwell can help you have healthy and empowering conversation with your peers, your employees, and even your friends and family. 

Do it privately, not publicly

Even if you have the power to hurt people, you shouldn’t use it. When you confront someone constructively, you don’t want to humiliate or shame them. People who you are working with need to feel safe and need to feel you are trustworthy in order to hear what you are saying and act on it. To do that you need to treat them with respect. Your motive should be to solve a problem, not to make someone feel bad. 

Do it as soon as possible 

If you wait too long to address a problem facts may get muddled, people may not remember exactly what happened, and it can get confusing. The sooner you can do it, the better 

Speak to one issue at a time

You don’t want to overload someone with a long list of issues. If it becomes a huge laundry list of things they have done wrong or need to fix they may feel attacked or it may seem like too much to handle. This goes along with the previous tip, do it as soon as possible. Don’t wait and save a bunch of grievances up, address them right when they happen so you can handle them one at a time.  

Once you’ve made a point, don’t keep repeating it

People don’t need things hammered into their head. Once you’ve made your point clearly and completely, don’t keep repeating the same thing. Let people take in what you’ve said and take action. 

Deal only with actions a person can change

You have to recognize people’s limitations. If something is out of someone’s control, there’s no point in confronting them about it. Make sure you are being realistic. Asking someone to fix something they can’t change will only cause hurt and resentment in a relationship. 

Avoid sarcasm

Sarcasm can come across as anger and it can cause a lot of misunderstanding in a conversation. It’s not helpful or appropriate in a business setting. Your conversation should be genuine and helpful, not angry and passive-aggressive. 

Avoid words like always and never

These words usually detract from accuracy and make people defensive. Very rarely does a person always do something or never do something. You lose credibility when you start using such sweeping, broad generalizations.  

Present criticism as suggestions or questions if possible

Approaching someone with a question or a suggestion feels less confrontational and a lot less offensive then coming out and yelling at them for doing something wrong. It can help the other person feel like they are part of the solution. They come out at the end feeling better about themselves and the situation, instead of being told they were wrong and then given instructions on how to fix it. 

Don’t apologize for the confrontational meeting

Making apologies for yourself diminishes what you have to say. The person may feel that if you have to apologize for it, maybe you weren’t right to begin with. Be confident with what you are saying. 

Don’t forget the compliments

You should start and end your conversation with a compliment. It helps people understand that you aren’t just trying to attack them. It will ease the confrontation, it will make people feel good, and actually want to change whatever it is they need to change. 

Constructive confrontation is something that everyone has to do at some point, whether in business or in personal life. By using these tips you can effectively get your point across while allowing the other person to feel respected, heard, and part of the solution. It also helps you build trust and credibility among your coworkers and employees. So try to practice these 10 tips on a regular basis.  

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