1Eighty Consulting

Working with organizations to create a safe culture
for communication and constructive confrontation

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What I learned about Confrontation Anxiety
at my first job...

I delivered flowers! And I loved it.  After all, what 16 year old boy wouldn't love a job delivering delight to pretty girls of all ages?  I drove a red panel van with no windows, with side-mirrors to see behind.

My boss was great, and I liked him a lot, but he had a tendency to be a bit impatient and gruff.  He loved Christmas time.  And for years it had been his tradition, at Christmas time, to put a large inflatable Santa in the front passenger seat of the van.  He liked how it made people smile and wave.
Problem was, from the moment I climbed into the driver’s seat it was obvious that I couldn’t see over Santa to the side mirror. I should have said something, but I didn’t. I didn’t feel safe confronting him about it, because I didn’t know how.  So I simply avoided the problem.

Two days later, as I was backing out of a parking space after making a delivery, and I collided with another car backing out from across the street, because I couldn’t see that mirror. My confrontation anxiety cost the company that day.  And my anxiety was a direct result of my lack of confidence that I could skillfully confront the problem without creating tension between my boss and I. 

Here's what I wish I had known at the time: Confrontation is simple. There's a simple 4-step process that can be applied to any situation where dialogue about a problem is called for, which won't stimulate defensiveness or create tension.

1. Observe (Identify) the problem or behavior.  (The article below describes the common mistakes.)
2.  Describe the negative effect of the behavior.
3.  Explain what you need.
4.  Make an appropriate request.

The most common question I get is, "What if it is my superior that I'm confronting?"  Most of the time the answer is step #4 you will be requesting dialogue about the problem.

You can read much more about it here: , "Make Your Point Without Starting a Fight"

Today I work with organizations to create that culture where people feel safe to engage in constructive confrontation by providing a skill set that takes the anxiety out of confrontation.

What about "difficult people?"

Everybody I know has a "difficult person" story.  You know the type:  critical, opinionated, stubborn, often argumentative.  They are usually negative and contrary.   Difficult people are deliberately non-compliant about seemingly mundane things.  If you motion for them to sit in a particular chair, they might choose a different one "just because."
     How do you deal with "difficult people?"
          <Click here to watch the video>

"Done" pays better than "Perfect"

Perfectionists fuss and stress about how to start, and having a detailed plan before they do. High-achievers are pragmatists who pre-assume that everything they do is a draft and dive in, making corrections and tweaks as they go. In my experience, pragmatists are usually richer than perfectionists.

            <Click here to read more>
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Gary Sheely is the founder and CEO of 1Eighty Consulting.  He works with organizations that want to create a culture where their people feel safe having constructive confrontation and confident in de-escalating angry people.

His clients learn a skill set that reduces "confrontation anxiety," so that needed confrontation can take place without creating tension, and angry encounters can be quickly de-esclated.


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