two grownups out on the conference circuit.
A few weeks ago I had the opportunity to speak at the Texas Conference for Women.
(Total life-goal bucket-list moment, but that’s a different post for another day.)
As I’d expected the women I met were inspiring, community-builders.
As I’d hoped Amal Clooney was an unbelievable speaker whose experiences helping women enslaved by ISIS left me awestruck and emboldened.
Even with all the phenomenal facets of the day, there’s one session which resonated with me above all else.
And, more specific than that, a singular phrase which lingers in my head all these weeks since the event passed.
But I’m getting ahead of myself.
In fact, backing waaay up, it’s crucial to clarify my aversion for confrontation.
I choose to believe we all dislike it mainly because I cannot fathom someone enjoying scenarios where disagreement occurs in hostile, angry ways.
(flash-forward and back to the conference)
I attended a session with Lisa Nichols (coach and international speaker) and, during her presentation, latched on to a ‘throw away’ phrase in the talk.
As Lisa detailed for us an experience she’d had she said: “I chose CAREfrontation over confrontation.”
She continued on to the crux of her story–I remained firmly focused on her 3 words:
CAREfrontation over confrontation.
I knew, if I gleaned nothing else from the day, what she’d casually uttered was everything I never knew I always wanted to hear.
The event continued. I talked, networked, laughed and presented and yet her phrase percolated in the back of my mind.
I can’t evolve or grow without confrontation.
I need to learn how to engage in productive confrontation–something I now possessed a word for: CAREfrontation. CAREfrontation would lay foundation for margins, facilitate differing, non-combative opinions, and result in healthier decision making.
I need to acquire the art of CAREfrontation in order to thrive and feel connected.
The conference continued. I forged new bonds with old friends as I concurrently created a mental framework for how I’d move toward CAREfrontation and stop avoiding the confrontation I’ve historically resisted.
When it came to confrontation I needed to plan. I needed to practice what I wanted to convey so as not to get lost in the emotions of the moment. I needed to pause and identify core issues so as not to get distracted by minutiae and ‘lose my listener.’
I needed to identify an ideal resolution of the CAREfrontation and not use the interaction aimlessly ramble or vent.
I needed to own my part in the story. I needed to focus on I-sentences and not you-statements.
I needed to visualize the other person’s emotional reactions, body-language, and word choices and use those to ‘see’ a positive outcome and my responding with care not frustration.
I needed to plan a follow-up with the other person(s)/our connections to each other as the more I considered care over confront it grew evident follow-up was where the former revealed itself.
Once I’d prepared it was incumbent upon me to really consider the where of my CAREfrontation. Too often, as a direct result of my dreading the interaction, I’d ruminate for a w-h-i-l-e over a confrontation and then seemingly (to the other person) spontaneously/apropos of nothing blurt everything out at once and in public.
As with other interactions in my life, I needed to place myself in the position of the other. I needed to consider environmental impact on interpersonal interactions and consciously choose a calm, supportive environment in which to CAREfront.
Previously I’d entered into confrontations with an attitude of Well, if this doesn’t work at least I’ll feel better! My brain believed the story I told it and too often that’s exactly what happened. I vented. The other person didn’t say much. I felt fleetingly better (and then much worse) because it had been a confrontation-go-awry.
I needed to enter with care and with a knowing the other person desired resolution as much as I did. I couldn’t be too tightly attached to what the outcome would look like, yet I needed to believe there existed solutions, alternatives and compromises.
Changing from a mindset of Perhaps after arguing we’ll reach a compromise. to a belief in the idea of A focus on what we individually want/need can create a compromise we’re both happy with! shifted everything from my body language to my word choice.
Carefrontation conveyed I was invested, dedicated, and committed.
Soon after the conference (not to my surprise given the way my world works) I encountered a job situation which necessitated I confront a co-worker.
A scenario which, before Lisa’s three wise words, I’d have avoided until it exploded and tiptoed in later in an attempt to clean up the mess.
This time I chose a different approach.
I planned, I staged, I believed our communication would result in a new, clearer path—and it did.
- Are you a confrontation-hater as I was? Do you believe confrontation always equates to argument?
- Had you heard the word CAREfrontation? Have you ever put this approach into practice?