4 Process Strategies for Mastering Confrontation

As a leader dealing with confrontation regularly, it’s helpful to continuously gather tools and resources for practical help when confrontation arises. We know there is no one formula to use per conflict. With each team member comes new ways to process and new ways to address healthy confrontation. 

These four process strategies can be added to your toolbelt as you process the “how” behind confrontation.

1. Esteem

Hands down, you’ll receive the best results when dealing with confrontation in a way that esteems others. The lack of concern for this is like a gardener who neglects to prepare the soil before planting. There shouldn’t be any expectation for healthy growth in that environment.

Alternatively, a leader who expresses value for his or her team members will lay a good foundation to begin confrontational processes. These conversations, grounded in esteem, will contribute toward healthy dialogue, greater information reception, and positive change. Let’s look at the ways we can show esteem:


One way to show esteem is by being considerate of the timing of your confrontation. Are you bringing up an issue with other people present? Whether they need to hear or not, this can cause quick embarrassment in a way that shuts down healthy conversation. Are you bombarding the other party in a way that will only lead to walls being put up and an on-guard posture? Consider a healthy environment for your team member to be able to receive the conversation in a safe place and timing. You could relate this discernment as needing to be a good “weatherman.” Leadership coach John Maxwell expands on that by saying good leaders are “able to read the atmosphere…Don’t let a great idea get rained on because you picked the wrong day to introduce it!”

Expressed Value

Each of us has a desire for justice rooted inside of us. And justice takes on different shapes. It’s that desire to make things right or fair, a need to even the playing field. The negative extremes can include revenge or the desire to punish cloaked in a posture of being one who cares. However the need for justice shows up in our lives, we must root our confrontations in value for others. This is biblical. And it comes in the form of a blend of grace and truth. Jesus modeled the perfect way to reflect grace and truth. These three principles can help you as you navigate:

  • Truth spoken without grace can be cruel.
  • Grace dispensed without truth can be misleading.
  • Either truth or grace without demonstrating esteem can be potentially manipulative or controlling.

2. Discretion 

You’ve probably experienced a number of opinions on who should be included in what conversations. People enjoy information. But the danger is, our motives are not always aligned with the heart of God. Information can lead to gossip. People can be hurt by learning too much information they did not need to hear. The facilitation of this depends on a discerning leader, relying on the Holy Spirit to bring wisdom in conversation and confrontation.

And before we move forward, it’s important to do a heart check in our own lives as we bear the weight of information. This can lead to pride and foolishness as we overshare. The word candor conveys the idea of honesty and forthrightness. However, being candid also allows us to be reserved and discerning about the extent of information we share.

You may have heard the term silent lying. Silent lying is the refusal to tell others what they need to know to improve the relationship or situation, when doing so really does matter. It is an acquiescent silence. So we see here that silent lying is a passive act, while discretion is active in mastering confrontation.

3. Bracketing

This could perhaps be one of the most useful and practical tools when it comes to the ownership of your time as a leader. With widespread oversight and large teams to lead, your work can (and often does in many leaders’ lives) quickly overwhelm the entirety of your schedule. This often happens at the expense of your personal life-your family, spouse, friends, and hobbies. Instead, why not take back control of how you facilitate your time in a way that caters to all in a healthy boundary.

Bracketing is a strategy to help leaders put some distance between the front stage of the work world and the private backstage of marriage and family. Here is how bracketing works: Whatever the challenge in your work environment, establish a time and place to journal (individually) or discuss (as a couple) the challenge or problem. It is important to process and emotionally discharge complicated and troubling situations that you encounter. The objective in bracketing is that you can be as emotionally upset as necessary, say what needs to be said, and plan what needs to be planned. But when the time is up, and you are not at the designated location, you let it go and involve yourself in the other areas of life such as marriage and family. You give yourself permission to clock out of the work environment.

4. Confronting Incongruence

This process is especially helpful with high-capacity leaders on your team, who naturally exhibit positive working traits! They are often a solid leader within the team, highly respected, and therefore, they carry a lot of influence. 

This is great until you realize an issue arises necessitating a confrontation. One of the best ways you can steward this conversation is by confronting incongruence.

As the leader, take the time to first point out all the things you appreciate and affirm in your team member. List the ways they show patterns of great work qualities. Then, as you approach the confrontational aspect, you can point out the behavior that appeared incongruent with his or her level of professional stature. With this approach, you allow the employee to give reason for this incongruence.

With these processes, you are sure to set up the most healthy environment for your difficult conversations. And your team will be grateful that you care enough to reconcile situations in a healthy manner.