A Gentle Confrontation Skill for Communication

Having a gentle confrontation communication skill allows us to feel a sense of power to influence other’s behaviors. This week I share a very valuable confrontation communication skill learned from my personal trainer JV.

During my training, two young men were using a body bar too close to the mirrored wall.  JV stopped them without hesitation.  Masterfully, JV directed these men to correct dangerous behavior and to act appropriately!

As the assistant manager in charge of training, JV is always on the lookout to keep people safe. He does not let people get away with inappropriate gym etiquette that might be unsafe, impolite or disturbing to others at the gym.

What I admired is that JV does not get angry. Instead he gently leans his body toward the person in a friendly manner and he softly says, “You are doing ___.” Or he says, “You should be doing ____.”

His communication confrontation skill is wonderful to watch when confronting someone. No one ever reacts badly to JV. Instead, they feel his connection, caring and charisma. They just say, “Oh, OK.”

His confrontation skill is a combination of four steps:

1. Leaning in with his shoulder first to get their attention.

2. Using a soft gentle voice with no anger or irritation.

3. Saying what they are doing or not doing.

4. Expecting them to be willing to change the behavior.

Confrontation as a communication skill should be in everyone’s communication toolkit. Next time you need to call someone on their actions, try JV’s skill of communicating gently.  It’s really empowering to know you can influence people’s behavior when needed.

I used to get angry and bristly when people were doing things I did not like. What I realized is that I was expecting them to not want to change. JV taught me that I can just as easily expect them to want to change.

For more guidance on communication skills such as confronting others, consider talking with me about a communication coaching project.  Together, we can create a set of communication skills that you need to succeed.