The meeting began. The President outlined the proposed change. All his supports were opposed to the plan. After a vehement meeting, with all opposing viewpoints aired, what looked like a failure, the adoption of the new proposal, was finally agreed upon. This outcome is even better than the original idea, demonstrating the value of Constructive Confrontation.
Management can facilitate changes that inevitably alter outdated practices and procedures, changes that inevitably steps on some toes. Conflict lies at the heart of managing any business activity. Therefore, confrontation, facing issues over which there is disagreement, cannot be avoided.
Constructive Confrontation is a problem-solving technique focusing on attacking problems straight-out, as opposed to being overly careful, diplomatic or devious. Its two most important features are directness and immediacy.
Destructive confrontation is a problem that must be confronted constructively, like any other problem. When we don’t face an ongoing problem, stress gradually builds. Only a statement such as “It won’t work because….” can make meaningful dialogue possible. CC has nothing to do with being polite or rude – it is instead a direct and immediate way of dealing with problems.
Its form should be business-like, even while the substance taken up is a matter of intense mutual concern. CC can absolutely be learned! CC is hard to practice. Most find that it produces pain initially, because most have been brought up to be polite. CC is intended to initiate specific and positive problem-solving action.
Whenever CC becomes personal, reaction will be personal and focus on the problem will be lost. Face-to-face conflict resolution will replace politicking. Bringing problems into the light as soon as possible will enhance corporate health. Mushrooms and politicking grow quietly in the dark, avoiding light for their sustenance.
We must concentrate on the problem, not the people involved. If a piece of machinery breaks down and ruins everything in the process, was it because the equipment was not maintained properly, or was it because its operator was not properly trained? Or was it something else altogether? We must dig out the truth before we can take intelligent corrective action.
“There are three kinds of people: those who can count and those who can’t.”