Some confrontation at work is expected (even healthy), however if there are individuals in your organization with Chronic Confrontationitis, it’s up to you, as a leader, to protect your organization. Afflicted individuals have the nasty habit of separating people from information, social situations, peers, tools to do their job, affection and admiration… as well as hard earned acknowledgement and praise. They actively create a culture where people feel “less than”, causing both emotional and physical stress.
Without the acquisition of effective strategies to combat Chronic Confrontationitis, competent team members may end up with damaged careers or become so uncomfortable with the conflict in the environment that they opt out all together. If you, or individuals within your organization, are impacted by someone with Chronic Confrontationitis, there are several things you may want to consider:
1. Don’t take it personally. Avoid becoming self-critical or isolated. Chronic Confrontationitis is about the bully, not the target. There is nothing you have done to deserve this behavior.
2. Understand the circumstances. Even if you know historically that the individual is afflicted with Chronic Confrontationitis, give the initial benefit of the doubt. Ask the individual to clarify the intention of their confrontational approach.
3. Don’t ignore the confrontation. Call it out. Point out what the afflicted individual is doing that is offensive and notify this person that you will not put up with it in the future. By calling the conduct into question, you’re putting the person on notice. Maintain your position and by the second or third attempt, the diseased individual will tire of spinning his wheels and move on to another target.
4. Confront the offender in a professional manner. Don’t sink to their level. Stay as calm as possible. Chronic Confrontationalists are looking for a reaction and it will encourage them to come back for more.
5. Listen and respond respectfully to what the infected individual has to say - especially when they become aggressive, intimidating or hostile. Get their attention by starting your sentence with their first name, and keep direct eye contact. If they cannot control their behavior, give them time to cool off and suggest another meeting time.
6. Respond appropriately. Sometimes the offense cannot be smoothed over with a clever tactic. You must respond to the individual in an assertive manner. Bullies don’t expect direct comebacks, which is why they take more liberties in what they say to those they expect compliance from. Most people avoid the toxic individuals or soften their response so as not to offend the offender — which weakens their credibility. Keep the response brief and pointed, in a tone that is authoritative and controlled.
7. Remember… you have choices. Many excellent employees leave organizations which allow Chronic Confrontationitis to run rampant. You don’t have to tolerate a hostile work environment. Knowing you have choices and investigating your options will give you strength. Remember, Chronic Confrontationitis is not about you. It’s about the afflicted person and his interpersonal challenges.
Facing someone with Chronic Confrontationitis can be a challenge. At some stage during your working life, you (or someone in your organization) will encounter this horrible disease. Those afflicted with it will have to be dealt with. How you handle confrontation in your organization may be as important as anything else you do in your professional life. While you cannot cure Chronic Confrontationitis, you certainly can control how it impacts you and your teams.
It’s not your job to make everyone happy – we all know that is an impossible task. Your job is to make sure you and your teams succeed. If it takes effectively managing Chronic Confrontationitis from time to time, that’s part of the price of success.
What measures do you take to keep Chronic Confrontationitis at bay in your organization?
Please engage the discussion and let us know how you keep Chronic Confrontationitis out of your organization. Feel free to contact me at Sheri.Mackey@LuminosityGlobal.com or by visiting our website at www.LuminosityGlobal.com. Check back soon for the next post on Leadership Across Boundaries and Borders.