Confront People without Offending Them
- Thursday, May 21, 2009
Prepare for the encounter. Before you confront someone, first be honest about why you’ve decided to confront him or her about the issue. Do you have an ulterior motive (such as trying to make the person feel guilty) or do you want to see a genuine change in behavior? Remind yourself that your goal should be to resolve a specific issue for God’s glory.
Choose the right time and place for the confrontation, and try to make sure that you talk with the person when you all can be alone instead of in front of others. Pray to prepare your heart and mind before the confrontation.
Own the problem. Speak on your own behalf, explaining how the problem has affected you personally or how you perceive the issue rather than shifting the attention to other people’s perspectives. Take responsibility for expressing your own thoughts and feelings clearly and directly to the person you’re confronting.
Speak the right words. Pray for the wisdom to choose the words that will help you most effectively communicate with the person, and for the peace you need to deliver those words in a calm tone of voice. Describe specifically what you’ve observed or experienced, since being too general will make it easy for the person to deny wrongdoing or misinterpret your message.
For every negative statement you need to make while discussing the issue at hand, try to make a positive statement affirming the person’s worth and your commitment to the relationship both before and after making the negative statement. That will help the person know that you are rejecting his or her behavior, but not him or her as a person.
When you criticize, do so constructively, giving the person information to help him or her solve the problem and being careful to preserve the person’s dignity. Listen to the person with an open mind. Admit your own mistakes. Work with the person to find mutually agreeable ways to move forward.
Listen well. When you listen, you create an environment where the person you’re confronting feels that he or she has been heard and his or her thoughts and feelings have been validated. That will motivate the person to try to resolve the conflict with you. Try to fully understand the person’s intentions and objectives rather than jumping to conclusions. Verify facts before making accusations. Explain your own actions when the person has questions about them. Ask questions to clarify what the person is telling you; then paraphrase what you think the person has said to make sure you understand correctly.
Negotiate future behavior. Try to work out a mutual agreement on how to move forward after the confrontation. But keep in mind that the only behavior you have the power to change is your own. Determine how much you’re willing to compromise without violating your core values or self-respect to achieve harmony.
Forgive the offender. Let your gratitude for how much God has forgiven you motivate you to obey His call to forgive those who have offended you. Decide to forgive – despite your feelings – and rely on God’s help to do so, trusting that your feelings will gradually change in the process.
While your decision to forgive should be immediate, restoring trust in your relationship with the offender is a process that may take a long time. For true restoration to take place, the offender must first repent and show consistent behavior that gives evidence of his or her change of heart. However, whether or not the person who has offended you ever apologizes or repents, you must forgive him or her to obey God’s call and free your soul from the poison of bitterness. If you’re having difficulty choosing to forgive someone, pray for that person, and God will help you become more willing to forgive.
After you choose to forgive, stop rehearsing the offense in your mind. Leave it in the past and focus on your future.
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