About nine years ago, I wrote a four-part BLArticle® miniseries dedicated to dealing with how to handle difficult behavior without direct confrontations.  There are a handful of ways to professionally avoid confrontations… but that doesn’t mean there’s never a need for a confrontation.  Sometimes, despite our best efforts to resolve and diffuse a situation using any number of professional techniques, a confrontation may be necessary.

I don’t want to encourage you to just be cautious, or tread lightly. I want to provide you with a well-thought-out process that will protect you.  I haven’t had to use it often, but I’ve always had a healthy level of confidence just knowing it’s there.  So, when all else fails and a confrontation is necessary, I’d suggest you lean on this six-step process that has served me well:

Step One: “I need your help…”  By beginning your discussion this way, you accomplish two tasks.  First, you have a simple transition to begin your conversation.  In addition, beginning this way will reduce the feeling of an aggressive confrontation to follow: You are beginning by setting the stage for a frank conversation.

Step Two: “The situation is…”  Perhaps the most important step of all, using these three words forces you to describe the situation, and encourages both parties to deal with the facts; not the feelings.  Clearly state the problem, and do your best to restrain yourself from using the word “you.”  This will help the individual you are confronting to look at the situation for what it is, and reduce the chances of an emotional response.

Step Three: “The results that causes are…”  Now you can begin to shift gears: Allow the individual you are confronting to see the results or consequences of his or her actions. Explain the problem these actions are creating.  Once again, avoid using the word “you” and stick to facts; not feelings.

Step Four: “I personally feel…”  This is an optional step, depending on the relationship you have with the person being confronted.  If it is an established relationship – such as a spouse or close friend, this step may be appropriate.  However, if you do not know this person well, or you are unclear whether to even use this step, avoid it.  Unfortunately, those who don’t know you well really won’t care how you feel personally. The conversation runs the risk of spiraling out of control because of this reference.

Step Five: “In the future…”  At this point, you can begin outlining the solution, recommendation, or suggestion you are presenting. This is the hopeful resolution of the problem, and the avoidance of the possible confrontation. Make it a fair and reasonable solution, and stick to it!

Step Six: Gain agreement  This final step allows you to see if the problem is solved for the person you’re confronting.  It also makes it more difficult for that person to create the problem again.  Don’t assume anything here.  If the person you are confronting agrees, push forward.  If this person cannot agree, spell out consequences.  In a corporate environment, make sure you clarify exactly what the consequences will be before any confrontation.  You don’t want to create a conflict between you and the company you are working for by stating consequences that were not agreed to.

At Xerox, the consequences were very clear for not being able to change disruptive behaviors, and the failure to have a person agree to change those behaviors.  Every instructor understood this before ever stepping in front of a classroom.  Those consequences were to rebook that student’s flight, and send that person home – immediately.  In my ten years at Xerox, I can remember the times I was unable to get someone to behave properly, and I actually needed to have a confrontation; twice.  I can also remember the number of times I could not gain agreement and needed to implement the consequences; zero.  I was able to clearly communicate what the consequences would be, and I knew I had the commitment of the company behind me.  This empowered me and gave me all the confidence I needed.

There are so many ways to correct the behavior of others without a full-fledged confrontation: Asking questions, listening to the answers, and having these conversations, in private, are just a few tactics you might use.  This technique should be used when other options have failed, because, when done properly, this should be the last conversation you have regarding this problem.


Want to listen to this BLArticle® read by the author?  Tune in to “Pocket Sized Pep Talks” and you’ll hear a collection of BLArticles®, conversations, and interviews updated often! https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/pocket-sized-pep-talks/id1497772972


I just did a podcast with a wonderful, new, and up-and-coming star named Jahmaal Marshall.  His podcast is called, “Listen Then Speak.”  I’ve done a lot of podcasts, but we got into topics I rarely talk about, and I’m quite sure you’ll enjoy the show!  https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/listen-then-speak/id1550684472

I’ve appeared on the “Small Business Advocate Show” with Jim Blasingame for almost 20 years now, and you’ll find dozens of our conversations on his website.  We just sat down last week for a great conversation about selling fundamentals and the strategic use of stories.  Here’s a link to over 100 interviews done over the years, including my most recent interview that explores the power of journaling. https://www.smallbusinessadvocate.com/small-business-experts/rob-jolles-134

We posted a video series on delivering amazing online presentations with my friend, Jeremy Webb.  We go over some great stuff including:

  • How to Select the Best Equipment for Online Presentations
  • Pro Tips for Sustaining Interest in Online Presentations
  • How to Look Like a Pro!
  • Public Speaking Anxiety Tip
  • Virtual Office Setup for Online Presentations

You’ll find the whole playlist here: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLRO7BsBDl6oL-6ZPW3O01x-g5PiR38ljL

I sat down for an interview with one of my favorite podcasters, Jay Izso, on his show, “A New Direction.”  We sat down for a little over an hour and went at it!  If you’re presenting online, you’ll want to hear this interview. Normally, I sit down for a few minutes… but not with Jay. We go over a LOT of helpful hints here!  Here is the direct link to that interview:


I joined @Dan Englander on The Digital Agency Growth Podcast where we talked about transitioning from in-person to teleconference sales. Some topics we covered:

  • Why sales is a transferable skill but marketing is domain-centric.
  • The important consistencies and differences in teleconference sales.
  • Why objections are good.
  • Why product knowledge is overrated.(Don’t shoot the messenger!)
  • My Three P’s of sales performance.

I was recently interviewed on the “Salesman Podcast,” which was a lot of fun. If you’re looking to Change Minds, check out this podcast: https://www.salesman.org/the-simple-step-by-step-process-to-influence-anyone-with-rob-jolles/

I loved talking about the book, Why People Don’t Believe You on a podcast that I’m sure you’ll like called Onward Nationhttps://predictiveroi.com/podcasts/rob-jolles/

After 30+ years as a professional speaker and trainer, one of the most common questions I get is this: “How do we make sure the training sticks?”  Take a moment and listen to this podcast; “SalesChats” with John Golden.  If you want to know why most training fails, listen up! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KR3dDOlTK7U&list=FLxBXKhqz0xBwbUPMqNthAJA&index=2&t=1293s

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