Confrontations imply conflict. Someone isn't happy about something and he's confronting you about it. Or someone has made you unhappy and you need to confront him. As a human in contact with other people, you can't avoid some confrontation in life, but you can learn to handle confrontations at the office to achieve the best outcome. Confrontation can be an opportunity for communication that can help your workplace run more smoothly and with greater harmony.
Reign in your temper. Though anger may be a natural response to confrontation, take a deep breath and don't let loose with the first expletive that crosses your mind. Remain cool and professional. Take a walk down the hall or around the block until you're feeling more in control.
Diffuse the other person's anger. If an upset co-worker confronts you, defuse the situation and help that person calm down. Remaining in control also helps you maintain authority. The Sonoma County Sheriff's office offers these tips for dealing with an angry confrontation: address the person by name in a gentle voice, express empathy, distract the person by offering him a chair and coffee or a cold drink. Use "I" statements to express your understanding of the issues; avoid any accusatory "you" statements.
Ask questions to gain understanding of the other person's point of view. If someone has upset you, you might ask why he is behaving this way, or what he thinks the problem is. If someone confronts you, ask him what he wants from you or what he hopes to accomplish. Questions can begin a dialogue that takes the conversation from confrontation to problem-solving.
Prepare for confrontation if that's possible. If you know you have a meeting with your boss the next day and you suspect you're being called on the carpet, prepare your defense. Remain positive and in control. Make notes that will help you present your case and practice saying them. Focus on benefits to the company or to the other person in your presentation. If you made a mistake, be willing to admit it and offer positive solutions for fixing the problem.
Enlist a third person as a mediator. If you're having a problem with a co-worker, ask your supervisor to mediate. Or consult a human resources person. If your boss doesn't want to get involved, point out how confrontations interfere with productivity and present yourself as wanting to solve a problem, not escalate it.
Cynthia Myers is the author of numerous novels and her nonfiction work has appeared in publications ranging from "Historic Traveler" to "Texas Highways" to "Medical Practice Management." She has a degree in economics from Sam Houston State University.