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How to Confront Without Rocking the Boat

Working in a customer service job is one of the most stressful jobs someone can be in, because you’re dealing with — you guessed it — people. Not just people, but oftentimes disgruntled people. People who aren’t very kind. Sometimes, there are moments where we might have to confront someone, but we don’t want to do it to the point where it blows up in our faces and creates a bigger problem, right? So here’s what we’ve come up with on how to confront someone, but without rocking the boat:

Make an observation, then ask a question. This is probably one of the easiest and non-confrontational ways to confront someone about something. You telling them what you have noticed and perceived is a great way of avoiding labels and diagnosis, and asking the follow up question gives them a gentle push towards an explanation and open dialogue: “I’m noticing ______. I’m wondering if _______.”

Being direct doesn’t have to mean being rude. Direct conversation is probably one of the most valuable forms, but also one that gets a bad rap as being “rude” and “blunt.” The fact of the matter is, you can be direct without coming off as a stuck-up know it all. Always start your conversation with a compliment; it not only disarms the person you’re confronting, but also lowers their walls and opens them up for what you’re about to say. The words coming out of your mouth need to be either neutral, or positively associated words — so avoid words like “never,” “lazy,” “disappointed,” etc. Direct communication also means walking into the conversation with a solution already on hand, relaxed body language, and a smile. Your goal is to talk about the important parts without sounding like you’re condemning the other person.

Understanding your own emotions is just as important as acknowledging the other person’s emotions. If you find that you’re in a high-emotions situations, and you can’t seem to allow yourself a deep breath, then it’s okay to get a rain check on the conversation. If you cannot fight back the anger or the tears (sometimes they come hand-in-hand), then you cannot confront the situation in a healthy and professional way. There is no shame in taking a step back.

No one is a real fan of confrontation, but if it’s done in a calm, cool, and collected manner, then the experience really isn’t as scary as most people think. The goal is to be open and accepting of the other person; have a discussion, not an argument.

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