The good in confrontation

  • Published
  • By Pamela L. Dowell
  • 55th Wing Equal Opportunity director
Throughout my years in various personnel fields, classifier, manpower specialist and currently the equal opportunity director, I have heard one constant from supervisors and employees, "I hate confrontation."

Confrontation is a form of communication that is essential when striving for effective mission accomplishment. Wouldn't it be great if supervisors were so articulate that employees never needed to question or second guess what the boss's expectations are? Conversely, supervisors would be thrilled with employees who always meet or exceed expectations.

Unfortunately, utopia doesn't exist; therefore, we are left with actually communicating or confronting people we work with. Confrontation, when done correctly, is a constructive tool in bringing different perceptions into one reality.

The most important step in confrontation is to listen to the other party's viewpoint; don't be so wrapped up in getting your viewpoint across that the other party doesn't feel as if they have been heard at all. Check to ensure you understand what the person said - receive confirmation before proceeding. Remember your goal is resolution; state your point of difference without hostility or condescension. Should the other party become unprofessional, make them aware of their behavior in a quiet tone. Confrontations are not and should never become arguments. Confrontations are designed to address an issue and bring it to an acceptable outcome.

If it becomes apparent that you were the one out of sync with the expectations, be willing to admit to it and offer to take whatever steps are necessary to improve mission accomplishment. This just happens to be the most difficult part of the confrontation process; I know that's a tough one.

Confrontation clears the air, makes way for dialogue, and clarifies expectations, standards and procedures. So, try to remember the next time you are dreading confronting an employee, boss or co-worker, if done right, you, the other party and the mission will be better off in the long run, openly discussing differences.

Of course, there are occasions when try as we might, issues are too complicated to be successfully worked out between just the two of you. Should that be the case, remember to contact the Alternative Dispute Resolution Office at 294-6882. Trained mediators are available to assist you in opening lines of communication.