I estimate that the majority people are conflict avoiders. I am one of them. Non-confrontational people would prefer to escape any type of conflict with someone else. If you are far into the Non-confrontational realm, you quake in fear that someone who embraces conflict will go toe-to-toe with you.
You can easily see the non-confronters as they operate at work. They prefer to leave phone messages when there's something controversial going on -- and like it even better if they can do so when the recipient won't be available (like after hours). Email is one step better -- avoiding the possibility of a direct battle. Or put it off until tomorrow. Or next week. Or maybe forever.
If you're in management, there are three reasons you shouldn't follow your instincts on this.
- Written and recorded comments, especially when focused around an emotion-laden subject, can be easily forwarded to others. Often, when taken out of context, such information can be quite damaging to its author.
- If your problem is with another non-confrontational person, they're probably just as unhappy to charge into a conflict as you. If you approach them in a concilliatory fashion, you might be able to avoid having a pitched battle. If the other person is indifferent to (or actually enjoys) confrontation, at least they will respect you more if you stand up to them.
- Misunderstandings, disagreements, and conflicts almost always age poorly, particularly if you and the person at the focus of your conflict are in contact on a regular basis. Delaying is almost as bad as having an email war -- it won't appear reasonable to third-party observers.
What you need to do is toughen up. Resolve to yourself that you need to take care of the problem now, rather than procrastinating. In most cases, the confrontation will likely not be as bad as the worst-case scenario you're imagining. And if it is, at least you will have the personal satisfaction of knowing you conquered your fears, and pushed for what you know to be right. So get it behind you as soon as possible and stop living with the terror of impending conflict and the paralysis it entails.
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If you enjoy the ideas presented in my blog posts, then check out my novels. Corporate Thrillers LEVERAGE, INCENTIVIZE, and DELIVERABLES are all based on extensions of my basic experiences in the world of business.