Constructive Confrontation (CC) is used to bring people face-to-face with reality and to say a difficult statement in a redemptive way.
• CC helps bring consistency between what a person says and what a person does.
• CC promotes open and direct communication.
• CC helps initiate action plans and behavior changes.
• CC is not lecturing, judging, or acting in some punitive manner.
• CC should not contain an accusation, evaluation, or problem solution.
CC requires self-exploration/preparation on the part of the one who is constructively confronting:
• How do you describe the messages from the other party (i.e. the party who you want to confront)?
• What observations do you have about the other party’s behavior?
• What evidence do you have that supports the messages and behavior?
CC statements often follow this pattern: “you said/but look”
• “You said . . .” repeats a message of the other party.
• “But look . . .” presents the contradiction or discrepancy.
“I hear you say you want life to be better, yet you have given reasons why you feel life will never be better.”
“You say you want to get back together, but you keep seeing someone else.”
“You say you want to go to college after high school, but you are not doing your homework.
“You say you don’t feel appreciated for what you do, yet you don’t let anyone know this is how you feel.”
“You say you want to get well, but you are not getting help.”
Finish off the statement with, “I’m confused by this, help me understand.” Or “I seem to be lost by what I hear and what I observe, can tell me more about what is happening.” (Of course, do this without sarcasm and be sure to watch your non-verbals.)
Adapted from Dr. Alan Wolfelt, Counseling Skills Fundamentals, 2001, Center for Loss and Life Transitions