• Have your facts straight.
  • Consider the questions of having to reveal where you received your information. Confidentiality’s may be at stake.
  • Be gentle, but direct. You may spend much time in this conversation, so don’t waste any by trying to sugar-coat the issue.
  • Expect some defensiveness, maybe even after the confrontation.
  • Do it without an audience.
  • Don’t check with everyone else before you offer your criticism. Speak for yourself.
  • Be prepared to discuss criticisms that may be directed back at you.
  • Divorce yourself from any anger, remember the big goal is to help this person’s performance and improve your working relationship.
  • Have some sort of solutions in mind to the problem you are confronting.
  • Commit to listening. You are not there to just speak your peace and leave.


  • Be approachable. The more walls you throw up, the less likely you are to get help tearing them down.
  • Listen. Even if the criticism is way off target, you will know how you are being perceived and where the perceptions are coming from.
  • Don’t respond by just hitting back. It probably took a certain amount of courage and trust for that person to come to you with their concern.
  • Here’s the tricky one: do offer this person any perceptions you have about the role they may have played in the problem.
  • Ask this person for ideas on how to improve things.
  • Don’t automatically internalize everything the person says. Evaluate their criticisms — they may be well intentioned, but dead wrong.
  • Keep the conversation private, unless you both agree to share things with others.
  • Listen for things you’ve been told before — these are clearly areas for improvement.
  • Stay focused on the issue at hand and don’t dredge up old conflicts. You’ll only extend the barriers between you and this person.
  • Ultimately remember that some conflicts is borne of sheer stylistic difference. Make sure the confronter isn’t just trying to make you more like himself.

One Response to “Confrontation”

  1. Julie Bramson Zalla January 8, 2013 at 11:09 am #

    Terri, I LOVE this! I want it as a poster to hang!!

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