You can probably remember the first time you learned to drive. Your brain had to think about everything, and putting on your seatbelt and using your blinker weren't second nature. Now, take a moment and think about what it's like to drive a car now.
You've probably had times when you've "zoned out" and not remembered specific moments of a car ride. Driving has become so much like clockwork, that what was once difficult has now become both normal and natural.
Confrontation is a lot like driving. At first it is both uncomfortable and awkward. Confrontation is also a lot like leadership, public speaking, and any other skill you learn. At first, it may feel unnatural, and you may even feel incompetent.
However, as you grow and develop, it will begin to feel more natural. As a matter of fact, the truth is that confrontation is normal, and just because something is hard does not mean it's bad.
Ultimately, the ability to address people and issues is needed from every servant leader. So, here are a few things to keep in mind if you decide to embrace healthy confrontation in your life.
1. Confrontation is normal, so stop treating it like it's not
Confrontation goes all the way back to the Garden of Eden when God confronted Adam and Eve. Wherever you are in your leadership journey, you are sure to have faced moments of confrontation. It is normal, guaranteed, and even expected.
However, it is also true that when people are forced to deal with issues, they often see them as giant obstacles standing in their way.
So what is the solution? Well, just as you embrace the title of a leader, parent, or friend, you must also embrace the title of a peacemaker. Confrontation and peace do not generally go together, at least not on the surface.
However, peace doesn't necessarily equal the absence of noise, but rather a stable environment filled with trust. Sometimes the best way to create peace in a relationship is to first rock the boat. When done properly, this rocking will create waves of trust that flow from honest conversations.
You see, the problem must be addressed before it can be solved. Confrontation is not easy, but the greatest leaders understand confrontation is not only necessary, but normal.
2. Care enough to confront
Healthy confrontation requires a high level of care for the person being confronted. As a leader, you have an opportunity to shift your perspective on what it means to confront others.
What if confrontation could be done in a way that showed love to the person being confronted? Like a parent disciplines their child, and like God disciplines you, you surely know that the best lessons are learned through hard conversations.
Yet too often, we think we are caring for others by neglecting to confront them over an issue. We are afraid to hurt their feelings, or do not want to make them upset. When we do this, rather than caring for them we choose to stay comfortable in our own little bubble.
Comfort may make us happy for a short time, but the unaddressed issue will sooner or later return to the surface. So, take advantage of the opportunity to show tough love by choosing to care for others.
3. Questions are your friends
When issues arise, never make assumptions when there are still questions on the table. Believe it or not, questions are your friends. They break down walls of defensiveness and create bridges of trust in your relationships.
Questions such as "Can you help me understand this?" or "Can you explain why you did it this way?" promote mutual conversation and understanding. They create environments of collaboration and problem solving, and they create safe spaces for people to open up.
Once questions are asked in a respective manner, the emotions of the responder will typically follow suit. On the flip side, when people feel attacked with statements or accusations, they typically do one of two things. They either become defensive and loud, or they shut down emotionally. So, lead with grace, and let your questions be an invitation to mutual understanding.
Confrontation is not easy, but it is normal. Do not let it catch you by surprise, but rather embrace this responsibility and duty of every servant leader. Remember, hard things are not to be avoided. Just like driving a car, the more we do it the better we become.