Lead Well


Last week I shared 3 Truths I’ve Learned concerning confrontation.

Today I will share some thoughts on being a safe person to confront. These lessons have come from my own experience in confronting others, as well as being confronted on issues myself.

Regardless of how you are approached, you are in complete control with how you react.

Below are some of my thoughts on qualities that make a person safe to confront.

A safe person maintains open communication. Conflict will be handled more appropriately when there is already a relationship that encourages regular communication. Trust is built over time, people need to have previous interactions in order to better predict future reactions.

A safe person is mindful of her body language. No one feels welcome to discuss problems with someone with crossed arms and a wiggling, impatient foot. Arms that are by one’s side, or folded in one’s lap give the impression of being approachable and open. Let others know that time with them is important, and if your schedule is already full intentionally schedule an uninterrupted time to meet in the near future.

A safe person listens first. It is so easy to be defensive when approached with an issue or problem, especially as it pertains to your flaws or failures. Listen to the entire grievance, remembering that it is an act of bravery to confront someone. No matter how silly the issue seems, stay focused and listen. By staying quiet and listening first, you have the ability to defuse a potentially volatile situation.

A safe person acknowledges the feelings of the other person(s) and apologizes. Before going into the reasons why a decision was made or an action carried through, acknowledge the person’s feelings and apologize. For example:

(name of person), I understand that you feel (hurt, overlooked, undervalued, etc) and I am so sorry that I have made you feel this way. That was never my intention. Will you please forgive me?

I know, by now you are remembering a scenario that you would not want to ask for forgiveness. Maybe the situation is one that the other person is not privy to all the facts, or it is something that just had to be done and could not be avoided. Maybe you think the person is just being too sensitive. After acknowledging their feelings, you can add further details if applicable. For example:

Unfortunately, the situation could not be avoided (give reasons if appropriate), but in the future I will try to address (said issue) differently by (give examples if applicable).

I can understand how you would take things the way you have; in the future I will be more mindful of the words I use.

A safe person ends the conversation on a positive note, encouraging the person to bring any future issues to her attention. Maybe the issues was a simple misunderstanding and easily resolved, or maybe you were unable to give the person much relief. Either way, it is best to leave things on a positive note. For example:

Thank you so much for bringing this to my attention. I know how hard it must have been to share this with me. I hope you know that you can always come to me with (issues, complaints, hurts, injustices). I hear you and care about you.

What are some qualities that you see in people who are safe to confront? Are you a safe person?

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