Conflict Management and Constructive Confrontation

by Gregg Walker
Department of Speech Communication
Oregon State University

Thjis material is adapted from: Johnson, David W. (1990).  Reaching Out, 4th ed.  Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall.

We respond to conflicts by confronting, accommodating, or avoiding.  Both accommodation and avoidance are passive,  Confrontation can be aggressive and competitive, or assertive and collaborative.  The latter approach is generally the most constructive.

What is Confrontation?
A confrontation is the direct expression of one's view (thoughts and feelings) of the conflict situation and an invitation for the other party to express her or his views of the conflict.

Confrontations involve:

To Confront or Not Confront?
Generally the decision to confront is based on the following factors: Confrontation Guidelines Confrontation Skills
A confrontation about actions should be specific and timely.  It should be conducted in a way that helps the other party examine the consequences of her/his behavior rather than causing her/him to defend her/his actions.  Communicate: More precisely, these steps involve using a number of "communication competence skills" (see the Communication Competence Skills materials on this web site for more information), particularly: