I recently had to have a talk with someone regarding over-stepping boundaries of  positions.  I wanted to avoid confrontation on this subject with this individual; because I knew that their heart was in the right place.  What they did not understand were the ramifications that they were causing by crossing over position boundary lines.

Even though I had been contemplating this conversation for several months, the opportunity arose quite suddenly and I knew that I had to have a discussion right away or the situation could become worse.

I wanted the outcome of the conversation to be a positive one.  I had a few hours to prepare so I took advantage of them.  One thing kept popping up in my mind: “remember when dealing with anyone, keep your words soft and sweet in case you have to eat them.”

Since I knew this person actually did mean well in their actions, I was able to put myself in their shoes and try to understand why they were overstepping their boundaries.  This helped to keep me in check with my attitude.

When the time came for us to talk, I made sure that there were others present so that there could be no misunderstandings, which can happen when there are no witnesses. (Smart move if you can do it).  I followed these 5 rules for positive confrontational conversations.

1. Stop and think before you speak so you can choose your words with care. You want to get your message across in a way that discourages defensiveness and arguments.

2. Be objective and use frank and factual, or descriptive phrases. Choose neutral and positive words.

3. Speak with a tone of voice that sounds sincere, wanting to solve the problem.

4. Frame your message carefully.  Make sure that you stay on track with the issue at hand and do not go off on random “bunny trails” bringing up non-pertinent information.

5. Listen with empathy and understanding so you can see things from the other person’s point of view.

The conversation went fairly well and I think that we both have a better understanding of what needs to be corrected.

I did not just leave the issue alone after this one conversation though.  I called this person later that week to see if everything was okay.  We talked about how we each understood what was said and agreed that we were headed on the right track to working better together.

Follow-up is very important since many times we would like to think that everything went well, but never ask to find out for sure and then are surprised when things go sour or resurface.

“The best way to resolve any problem in the human world is for all sides to sit down and talk.”  ~Dalai Lama