Constructively Confronting Others At Work

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Whether you are the employer or the employee confronting or criticizing others is always difficult. Usually you decide to confront someone because that person is making you angry or upset for reasons that can range from a personal habit that gets on your nerves to an action in the workplace that is against the rules of your company. No matter the reason behind your desire to confront, there are five basic steps to follow if you want to create a more positive working environment for yourself and everyone around you.

  • Step One: Do not confront in the heat of the moment. Take a moment to step back from the specific situation making you upset, take a calming breath, and think about what is really upsetting you.
  • Step Two: Identify exactly what is bothering you. Be truthful with yourself about the problem at hand. What is the other person doing that really bothers you? Is their behavior bothering only you, or also other employees? Is this something they have been doing repeatedly, or is it a change from their normal behavior? Is there any way in which you are consciously or unconsciously contributing to the problem?
  • Step Three: Identify exactly how you would like to change what the other person is doing. Before you confront the other person make a list of what changes in behavior would solve the problem for you. Are these changes that only the other person can make or are any of these changes ones you can make? How can you work together to make your mutual working environment happier?
  • Step Four: Take another look at the problem from the other person’s perspective. If you look at the problem from the other person’s perspective, can you better understand why the irritating action is happening? Is that person having other problems in the workplace or at home? Are there any mitigating factors you should consider?
  • Step Five: Ask to speak with the person in private. Without others watching, calmly and clearly state what is bothering you, present suggestions for how together both of you can change your behavior, ask the other person to tell you how they feel about the situation, and discuss the problem until you reach an agreement as to how to change the situation for the better.
  • Step Six: Shake hands and thank each other. Congratulate each other on successfully managing a very difficult situation with maturity and grace.
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