Have you finally had enough? Is it time to address a problem that has been bothering you for far too long? Whether it is with your spouse, your family member or your co-worker, there is a way to address and resolve the issue without harming the relationship. Most people dislike confrontation, but if you don't adequately communicate your expectations, no one will ever live up to them.
People will sometimes sit on an issue and wait until they are ready to explode before they are willing to address it. This can happen because they assume that the other person will eventually just understand. However, this creates increased emotion around the situation making you more likely to over-react when you try to address it. Here are several points to consider before pushing yourself to finally approach the person in a way that doesn't damage the relationship beyond repair.
Make sure you are dealing with the right problem -- don't throw the kitchen sink at the person just because you are upset. Plan to talk about the one issue that needs to be addressed and leave the rest of your baggage at the curb.
At this point, you'll be unsure of what the other person's understanding or intentions are, and you can't infer that you do. Unbundle the consequences and the intentions -- make sure you are ready to explain how it's impacting you when addressing the problem from your perspective.
Work on me first – don't pretend that you don't notice your role. You are not a helpless bystander and are very likely part of the issue. And your silence up until this point has only escalated the problem.
Describe the gap: before making your approach, make sure you fully understand where the situation currently lies and what you would like to see in the future.
Once you have the right mindset, you also need to consider that there is a time and a place to have the conversation. You shouldn't broadside someone in public while they are preoccupied with something else. Make sure you create space and time for the two of you to have a private discussion. And when you get to the place, get to the point, because it's time to stop guessing what's on each other's minds.
Make sure you're not difficult or intimidating; otherwise the other person will have no motivation to meet your needs. If you lose the person's respect, you will likely lose your opportunity to address the problem, and quite possibly to ever successfully work with them again. And if you come into the conversation with a list of things to blame on the other person, you might as well not show up at all.
Now that the conversation is underway, keep these points in mind so that you're able to address the issue while maintaining the relationship.
- Who the person is, their character, beliefs and personality are not the issue. You are there to correct the problem -- not pass judgment.
- Stick to the facts and only the facts. Then explain how they made you feel because you can't assume the other person is aware of how they did.
- Remember that the other person has a side of the story as well, if you expect them to listen to you, you must in turn listen to them. You don't have to agree or disagree, you simply have to listen. Both parties need to understand the problem to solve the problem.
- Make sure the environment stays safe for both people so that you're comfortable enough to stay on track to reach the end goal.
A lot of people avoid confrontations with others even when the conversation is needed. Keep all of these steps in mind and you'll be on the path to solving the problem in a way that brings success to both sides.