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Confrontation: What's the Best Approach?

Updated: Oct 23, 2019

Many managers find confronting an employee difficult. They fear conflict will create a win-loss situation. As a result, they feel that the only way to handle confrontation is with a fight-or-flight response. And since running away seems cowardly and fighting unpleasant, avoidance can become a habit. But avoidance tends to make problems worse...

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You can turn confrontations with your direct reports into positive, win-win situations. Managers can achieve positive results through confrontation by improving their negotiation skills or focusing on collaboration. But sometimes, positive confrontation simply requires assertiveness. You need to communicate behavior expectations in a clear, calm, and firm manner.

What skills do managers need to develop to ensure that confrontations with employees are positive?

  • Assertiveness

  • Negotiation

  • Collaboration

When confronting employees, how should managers negotiate with them effectively?

  • Identify what's important to them

  • Collaborate with them to work out mutually satisfying alternatives


Confrontation can arise in all aspects of organizational life and can be a positive, constructive tool if handled properly.

While the kind of incentives may not be allowed in many organizations, the fact that confrontation provides an excellent opportunity for building strong business relationships is amply illustrated.

For today's manager, the ability to achieve positive results from confronting employees is vital. Confront your employees assertively and learn to negotiate with them more effectively. This means identifying needs and then working out mutually satisfying alternatives.

By also collaborating with your employees to work through problems, confrontation becomes a tool you can count on for achieving optimum results.


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