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Confrontation Can Be Healthy

There are many people who are very uncomfortable with confrontation of any kind. I used to be one of them. However, what I’ve figure out about confrontation is that it is almost always healthy when handled in the right way, but it also depends on what kind of leadership style you use.

I had a confrontation with a co-worker the other day and at first it was very heated. We are both very passionate about our jobs and the issue needed to be discussed. Now, since she is the one who initiated the conversation, I could have easily just listened, let her speak her mind, and let the conversation end with me being upset. However, what would that have gotten me? It would have pacified her for the time being, but left a huge elephant in the room because I would have had all sorts of points to make that were never spoken and possibly vented to someone else about it. That type of reaction is counterproductive and can be very dangerous. Instead, I shared with her my point of view of the issue, while still listening to her. By the end of the conversation we were both able to admit that each of us had valid points and agreed to work on the issue together.

To put my usual “movie spin” on my blog, there are numerous scenes I could have chosen to use as an example, but I happen to be watching the movie Office Space and found a great one. There is a scene where two consultants for a company are discussing productivity efficiencies and a person of interest named Milton comes up. It is revealed that he was actually let go five years earlier, but due to a payroll glitch and lack of communication he was never told and still thinks he works there. The “leaders” ask the consultants if they took care of it and they say “no, we took care of the glitch [in payroll]” and that by doing that the problem will just work itself out. Unfortunately, sweeping situations like this under the rug do not help anyone. It doesn’t help the associate and certainly doesn’t help the organization/leader. I realize this wasn’t necessarily a fight scene, but it does demonstrate how being afraid to confront someone with something and just ignoring a situation might be the easier solution short term, but will just end up hurting both parties worse in the long run.

Confrontation, also allows one to work on leading with their conscience rather than their ego. Leading with your conscience is a very small part of a leadership style called servant-leadership – you may have heard of it. By putting your ego aside and letting your conscience takeover by telling you what’s right and what’s wrong, you can more easily see someone else’s point of view and then learn from it. It doesn’t mean the other person is always right, but it frees your mind from the shackles that your ego can put on your decision making and leadership skills.

Handling confrontation is easier said than done, but it is so much healthier for relationships than one or both parties being passive-aggressive. So, the next time someone confronts you or something is bothering you about a situation don’t ignore it or bottle it up. Try to talk it out. It will most likely turnout positively, especially if you put your ego aside, open your mind, and really listen to the other person. If they don’t, so be it, at least you will have done what you know is right.

><(("> Julie Silbar

Julie is a ><((“> Friend of Catch Your Limit, a management and marketing firm with offices in Tallahassee, Florida and Richmond, Virginia. To contact Julie email her at or to learn more about Catch Your Limit, visit

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