However, many people are not comfortable with confrontations. They avoid them, or tend to overreact. This makes it harder to remain professional. Let’s look at a proven method to become a pro in dealing with confrontations.
What does dealing professionally with confrontations mean?
It means the issue that needs to be resolved between you and the other party is concluded with both parties at a minimum coming out of the confrontation with a result you can both live with. A result that brings both of the parties closer to their goal and closer to each other is of course preferable. But let’s start with ‘livable’. Discussion should be rational, and deal with the issue. It should never become personal in a negative sense.
When is dealing professionally with confrontations not possible?
Dealing with confrontations professionally is not possible if you:
- Tend to avoid confrontations on the one hand, or
- Go into a confrontation with excessive force on the other hand.
Both of these behaviors make you lose your power to deal with a confrontation professionally and effectively.
What do you need to deal with a confrontation professionally?
You know about the alleged power of the Bermuda triangle to let ships disappear. Like this, there is a confrontation Barracuda triangle, which has an equivalent capacity to make your power to act professionally disappear. (We mentioned this earlier in blog #4 of this series: Catching the Frisbee).
The Barracuda in the triangle appears only when you don’t assign limits. This omission gives the shark the capability to suck away your natural ability to deal with all kinds of situations. The proof for this ability is that you are very capable outside the Barracuda triangle.
So what is it that you actually do outside the triangle, where you are able to act professionally?
- You have assigned limits.
Since these are limits you share with others as part of ‘common behavior’, you don’t experience conflict. At the very moment you do experience a conflict, the limits are not mutual anymore. Hence the right thing to do is to (re-)assign limits that you both agree on.
What happens when you have no mutually agreed limits?
A limit is a boundary, something that marks off your ‘territory’ from that of someone else. As the saying goes:
Good fences make good neighbors
Essentially this is what assigning limits regarding confrontations also means. You stake out what is important to you. The other person does the same. Now you look for a way to make this work together.
Let’s take it literally for a moment, and look at the limits between two fields. You have a field to plow and grow clover. The other person has a field for his cows to graze. There are no agreed limits between the fields. The conflict is about the cows eating your emerging shoots.
What do you do? Let them eat the shoots because you can’t deal with confrontations? Kill the cows? To put it to extremes these are to two utmost sides of the range of dealing with the problem of a confrontation. They correspond to avoiding the conflict or responding with excessive force. Neither is positive, neither is effective.
The solution to dealing with confrontations professionally
The proper solution is to assign limits and have a boundary that is suitable to you both. Both of you need access to your fields. Both of you need an economical solution.
What you do (here as well as in other ‘real life’ confrontational situations) is find a boundary that is applicable to the situation and doesn’t inhibit achieving the primary goal.
Find a boundary you can agree on and align it with each other’s goals and objectives. Forget the purpose and values, however much they are part of the confrontation and its emotions. The values and purposes you earn in time by experiencing this approach works and the Barracuda disappears.
This approach allows you to set limits, thus avoiding you get sucked into the Barracuda triangle. Experiment with this approach, and you will become a pro at dealing with confrontations professionally.
The Good Career & Life coaching:
When you need to deal with confrontations professionally, we can help you prepare and hone your skills. Feel free to check if a conversation with us would be useful to you.