Confrontation gets a bad name. It’s uncomfortable at times, and we often try to avoid it. But it is a necessary part of living life with others. We can approach confrontation in a way that will bring unity and harmony instead of putting our guards up. Using the Moment of Truth tool in times of confrontation can help bring the proper perspective and build trust.
The first reality check when approaching a moment of confrontation is to ask yourself if you’re coming to this conversation out of a Me There or a We There. Another way is to ask if this conversation promotes a Blame Culture or a Create Something Culture.
A Me There situates itself in a Blame Culture and will be primarily concerned with self-preservation and making sure that you come out looking good. The main aim of this conversation will be to find a source for the problem so that fault can be allocated.
In a Create Something Culture, however, we recognize the truth of the SLY acronym: that 85% of the time the fault is found in the structure, 10% of the time it’s in leadership, and only 5% of the time is it with you. A Blame Culture will focus all their attention on that 5%. Therefore, they keep encountering problems that lie within their structure that they aren’t addressing.
In a Create Something Culture, employees, or the person being confronted, can rest assured that they are not going to be scape-goated, and that instead the purpose of this conversation will be to bring about a mutually beneficial resolution. Having this assurance allows trust to develop between the two parties.
Moment of Truth
So how should we go about a conversation that involves confronting a problem? The Moment of Truth tool involves four steps that help us to Feel-Think-Act throughout this process.
First, reality. Most of the time, we want to jump to the second stage: story. But engaging in reality is important to understanding our Here. Reality could mean things like “the deadline was missed” or “the newsletter was sent out with a faulty link.” This is the truth of what happened without any reasons as to why or how.
Starting with the truth of reality is helpful for both members of the conversation, as it helps to clarify the topic and puts everyone on the same page.
Next we get to move into the story. These are the reasons as to why the miss happened. Something such as “the deadline was missed because I failed to put it on my calendar” or “I used the link that the social team sent me and didn’t check that it was accurate.”
In a Blame Culture, the story stage could easily switch into blame shifting: trying to indict others in the failure. But in a Create Something Culture, it’s just information gathering that will help with the next stage: plan.
You see, you can’t plan for how to overcome this failure or miss if you don’t know the reason it occurred in the first place. But you also can’t overcome it if you just place blame and then move on. That addresses the symptoms and not the problem itself. Get to the core of the story and make a plan to create a structure that will help avoid a similar problem in the future.
Finally, we have the feedback stage. Plans aren’t meant to be made and then never followed up on again. Make time bound SMART goals in the planning stage so that you can reconvene at the end of that period to assess how the plan is working. Then you can learn and adjust based on the performance at that time.
This process only works if trust exists between both parties. The boss, or the person doing the confronting, needs to trust their employee, or the person being confronted, that they are telling the truth about the situation and that they will act on the plan created. But the employee also likewise needs to be able to trust their employer in order to feel free to own up to their faults without fear of a small mistake leading to big ramifications.
Developing your Referent Power, which we discussed in the last article, will help you build trust with those around you. Truth is more easily accessed when there is mutual trust and an understanding of a common goal.
Gracie McBride is the Content and Systems Management Coordinator for The Crossroad.