Navigating Confrontational Conversations

Are you giving others the benefit of the doubt?

Summary
Transcript

Mark Lutz, pastor of growth and healing at Vineyard Cincinnati, explains how leaders should approach moments that require confrontation—maybe a mistake was made that needs to be addressed or maybe two teammates aren’t getting along, for example.

“A lot of people are apprehensive about having a very direct, confrontive conversation,” explains Mark. In his experience, it’s always best to start conversations by giving your teammates the benefit of doubt. “Start there and insist on getting concrete evidence to the contrary that there was anything other than the best of intentions.”

Watch the video to learn more from Mark about how to navigate confrontational conversations.

I think a lot of people are apprehensive about having a very direct, confrontive conversation. There are two groups: There are folks who dread doing it and folks who love doing it, but are bad at it. And they should probably practice and get a little better at it. Because no one likes to point fingers at someone or to blame them or whatever.

And I think it's because, a lot of times, that's the only modeling we've ever seen. It doesn't even occur to us that you could speak to a behavior and not be angry at the person, not be at odds against them, but still be thinking, "How are we going to do this as a team?" and separate out the person from the behavior. To remember that good people do dumb things and if I do something wrong, it doesn't mean I'm a bad person. If that person does something wrong, it doesn't mean they're a bad person. I don't have to start from that assumption.

I like starting, giving my teammates especially the benefit of the doubt. Start there and insist on getting concrete evidence to the contrary that there was anything other than the best of intentions. And when I think of that, when I do my mental preparation, I think it affects my tone of voice. I think it affects the whole energy in the interaction, and I think that people settle down. Most of us get nervous when we feel a confrontation coming, either guilt or shame. You know we're truly guilty of a thing, we're about to be busted, or just that thing of, If I've done bad, I am bad."

And under the best of circumstances, people are going to get a flash of that. But by assuming this attitude of, "No, we're together," you can help someone get over that flash pretty quickly and come back and join you in a productive discussion. Where a behavior that needs to be amended you can talk about that, and everyone knows there's no bad on anybody. We're just going to get better at how we do things.
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Mark Lutz

Mark Lutz prepared for ministry at Cincinnati Christian University and studied counseling at Xavier University. First working for a Christian counseling center in Cincinnati, Mark learned how to integrate faith into clinical helping. ...

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