Confrontation Can Be Positive

[Career Essentials] Newsletter April 3, 2021


Welcome, new subscribers and loyal readers!

Spring is here! We’ve spotted daffodils, crocuses and irises in Central Park in huge swaths of color. It’s a renaissance that always lifts my spirits. Here’s a photo of the striking white and purple crocuses.

This month’s feature article — Confrontation Can Be Positive — will give you tips on how to achieve a successful outcome despite facing a difficult conversation. Whether you have to deliver bad news or want to ask for a raise or a promotion, learning to take charge of these situations can change the way you feel and think about yourself.

Finally, it was a blast to be part of the Virtual Career Coaching week from March 27 - 30! If you missed it, you can still hear the speakers; find out how in the recommended resource section below.

Take time to breathe and smell the flowers!

To Your Success,

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Feature Article

Confrontation Can Be Positive

Do you avoid engaging in conversations that might be difficult?

Are you paralyzed at the thought of having to take a stand that would not be received well?

If so, you are not alone.

You might wonder why otherwise savvy and smart professionals avoid confrontation like the plague.


Fear of embarrassment.

Not wanting to rock the boat.

Or, because they’ve never had practice in successfully dealing with confrontation.

Avoiding confrontation certainly affects your entire life.

Let’s focus on how it affects your career…

If you are in a situation in your job/career that you’re afraid won’t turn out well — whether it’s about money, project leadership or telling someone you won’t meet a deadline — waiting can make it ten times worse.

First off, if you’re hoping that if you avoid the subject, it’ll go away, you’re wrong. Eventually, these situations come to light and you’ll have made it worse by not bringing it up earlier.

Most bosses hate surprises. How do you think the boss will feel if you delay delivering the bad/difficult news?

The good news is that when you decide to have a conversation about a topic that could be challenging, you’re the one picking the time and place of the conversation. And you can prepare your “case.”

Oftentimes, when you wait and are confronted by a question you’re not prepared for, you’ll fumble for an answer and make excuses. In either case, you’ll be on the defensive.

When you’ll miss a deadline…

If you are proactive, and state your case in a matter-of-fact, confident tone, you’ll be much more likely to see a better outcome and you’ll feel better. Having the courage to face a difficult situation head-on builds your self-esteem.

A note of caution: ensure that you have a clear, logical and substantiated case. Develop a fallback position: a course of action that you can suggest to deal with and offset the missed deadline message you’re delivering. Getting into a difficult conversation without a well thought out plan is a recipe for failure.

When you want a promotion…

One of the areas that women, especially, are reluctant to bring up is what they need to do to get promoted. It harkens back to the sense that if they do a really good job and get on everyone’s good side, the “God of promotion” will hear them and it will magically happen. Okay, that’s a bit of an exaggeration, but not entirely.

Doing a really good job and having everyone like you is a simplistic approach. Being personable, establishing good relationships with those above, laterally and below you and doing a good job are just the beginning. To get promoted you must know the specific criteria, skills and needs of your company and how you can answer that need.

Unless you ask and get specific answers to plug the holes in your background and experience, how can you possibly be a realistic candidate for promotion?

Having the “what do I need to do to be promoted?” conversation with your boss can bring up issues of self-worth, rejection and a host of other 3 am-type monsters. However, avoiding the conversation does not get you closer to the insight you need and keeps you stuck and uninformed.

Instead, choose your time and prepare a script, one in which you start with a positive comment from your last performance review, i.e. “I know you’ve praised my ability to write terrific copy.” Then follow that with a statement, such as: “I’d like to contribute at even a higher level; what would I need to learn, do, or take on, to make me a viable candidate for promotion?”

So, rehearse your script and take it to your boss. You’ll find that asking for what you want and facing your fear of confrontation becomes easier over time!

About Dale:

Dale Kurow, M.S. is an author and a career and executive coach in NYC. She works with clients across the U.S. and internationally, helping them to become better managers, figure out their next career moves and thrive despite office politics. Click here for more information about her services.

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