Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Confrontation - Not Always Bad

We spend a good bit of our life avoiding confrontation for a number of reasons, including but not limited to the following:

  • because we don't like confrontation (it makes us feel uncomfortable for reasons we can't put our finger on)
  • because we are too busy (even if the confrontation is in an area that is in alignment with our personal purpose and passion)
  • because we are afraid of downstream repercussions on us or people important to us
  • because we have selfish needs that will be compromised if we challenge what we or others  perceive to be wrong
  • because we let something go too long and having done so, to challenge it now may cause some people to say "so why do you care now?" or the more incriminating "You knew about this and did nothing?"
  • because we are told that challenging something is just not allowed (for reasons that no one can explain or justify)
  • because we or someone close to us may be guilty of something that a confrontation may expose
  • because someone has intimidated us into believing that if we confront that which we believe to be a problem, then a failure will result that is our fault for challenging the status quo ("it was all quiet until you showed up")
  • because we feel that we are not as competent as someone else and will lose the confrontation, so why waste the time
  • because the person to be challenged is known to be a bully and you are afraid to voice your concern, fearing the repercussions
  • because we assume someone else will rise up and defend a position that we are passionate about (and we get frustrated, wondering when the white knight will arrive)
  • because we live a life of indifference to fixing that which needs to be fixed.

The truth is that sometimes confrontation, when approached correctly, produces purity and security within an organization, process or relationship.  The reasons include the following:

  • Challenge  provides clarification on how an organization, process or relationship is run and should be run
  • Challenge provides opportunity to change – to improve how organizations, processes or relationships execute
  • Challenge provides opportunity for enhanced relationship building, internally and externally
  • Challenge purifies organizations, processes or relationships by encouraging appropriate "house cleaning"
  • Challenge produces respect in others through appropriate airing / sharing of concerns and realignment of mutual understanding
  • Challenge provides security through increased transparency and enhanced execution.

So, confrontation is not bad as long as:

  • The information is factual and presented in a non-emotional way
  • The problem is tackled and not the people associated with the problem
  • The process produces a better service, product offering or relationship as a result of the process
  • Transparency and accountability are enhanced
  • Everyone on all sides recognize that personal agendas should be put aside, since both sides are possibly in violent agreement on more of the opponent's position then they realize
  • Common goals for the greater good are established early and collaboration is used to work towards those common goals.

So, before avoiding a confrontation for one of the reasons listed above, ask yourself this question:

Is the reason for the confrontation one that involves doing the right thing for:

  • those who have been wronged and fear standing up for themselves (for any reason)
  • those who have no voice and have been wronged
  • the purpose of correcting a wrong that people are not aware of? 

If any of the above is true, if fixing it is important for reasons that you are in congruence with and if you are not serving a selfish personal agenda, then don't run from confrontation. 

Take a stand.  Do what most people won't do today so that you can do what most people can't do tomorrow.

Proper challenge can correct issues and enhance future execution if done fairly, factually and appropriately and if we recognize that each person involved is doing they best they can with the talents, strengths and knowledge that they have been blessed with.

Yours in service and servanthood.


PS 55,000 children died yesterday due to malnutrition.  55,000 more will die today for the same reason and another 55,000 will die tomorrow.  They need someone to take a stand for them if you happen to be looking for a great cause!

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