Confronting People

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There is a problem with this article. The word confront often or usually has negative connotations as in this definition from Confront -- to face in hostility or defiance; oppose, as in the phrase, "The feuding factions confronted one another."

When discipling others it is at times needed to point our habits, attitudes or behaviour that is unhelpful and/or not Christ-like. Another aspect if that of addressing issues in those we lead. It is important that we understand the difference between the two roles of leader and discipler and when it is appropriate to cross the line and when not.

It may be better to find another term or at the very least to be aware that the term may be understood differently by different people. Another term might be, "carefronting"....

You might also be interested in looking for articles on conflict resolution. Particularly if your "care-fronting" goes wrong!

When Confronting Others

Focus on the Action and Not the Person.

The behaviour in question and not the attitude. God may not speak to me about the reason why the other person is doing that action.

  • otherwise could stimulate rejection or anger or a sense of judgement and injustice
  • to focus on behavior affirms the other person's freedom to change
  • ask them to suggest an alternative action in future situations. Eg, next time what would you do in that situation?

Focus on Observations Not on Conclusions

  • do not comment on what you think or imagine, but what you have actually seen
  • preferable to be made by person who saw. If someone else saw something then they should confront them.

Focus on the Amount of Information Useful to Receiver

  • don't ventilate any pent up feelings
  • offer it don't force it. "What would be an alternative?"
  • if give too much it leads to frustration
  • Focus on "what" and "how" not on "why".
  • when you ask why questions it is like an inquisition, it questions their motive or intent and it can threaten them.
  • "what" and "how" relate to observable actions, behaviours, words tone of voice

Avoid Leading Questions

  • The leading question: "Don't you feel that...", "Wouldn't you rather..".
  • limits, restricts, forces them to commit themselves.

Confronting Others

Controntation and Conflict Resolution

From Barry Austin

Confronting Others and Being Confronted

Bringing correction when someone has done something wrong

Confronting and Being Confronted

In any relationship, whether it's with family members, work colleagues or church members there are times when we need to discuss problems or mistakes that have been made. We could call it confrontation, correction or constructive criticism.

The Bible encourages us to confront in ...

Motivating Each Other to Grow as Christ's Disciples

Hebrews 10:24: "And let us consider how we may spur one another on ...

  • encourage, stimulate, urge, strengthen, inspire,
  • confront, correct, provoke, challenge, caution, warn

... toward love and good deeds."

What do you find easiest to do ...

  • to encourage someone, or
  • to confront someone?

Why do you find it easier?

Pointing Out Our Mistakes

Having people who point out our mistakes in a sensitive way (Galatians 6:1 - gentleness) and share how we can do better is of great benefit to our personal growth and effectiveness. But to do this well and to respond in the right way requires skills which we all need to learn.


  • If you have done something wrong, in what ways would you prefer to be confronted about it?
  • How would you not like to be confronted?
  • How should you respond if you are confronted wrongly - in a harsh and aggressive manner?
  • Bringing confrontation to others ...

Preparation is Vital ...

  • Pray, before approaching the person, to get God's perspective of the situation.
  • Make sure you are clear in your own mind exactly what you want the other person to do or stop doing as a result of your confrontation
  • Choose an appropriate time and place. Privacy is important.
  • Is the person ready? Are they under stress? Is it a good time?

Three Stages to Good Confrontation

  1. Establish Communication
  2. State the problem
  3. Find a Solution

Stage 1. Establish Communication

  • Build empathy, ego express appreciation for past relationship or accomplishments.
  • Share the general situation ... the context of the problem.
  • Ask questions to get a clearer understanding of the situation from their point of view. ego "What is your understanding of what happened?"
  • Listen carefully.

"Ten Commandments" of good listening.

  1. Stop talking - You cannot listen if you are talking. God gave you one mouth and two ears!!
  2. Put the talker at ease - Help the person feel that they are free to talk. This is often called a "permissive environment."
  3. Show that you want to listen - Look and act interested. Do not read your mail while the person talks. Listen to understand rather than to reply.
  4. Remove distractions - Don't doodle, tap or shuffle papers. Shut the door, if its quieter.
  5. Empathise with the person - Try to put yourself in the other's place so that you can see their point of view.
  6. Be patient - Allow plenty of time. Don't interrupt. Don't start for the door or walk away.
  7. Hold your temper - An angry man gets the wrong meaning from words.
  8. Go easy on argument and criticism - This puts the person on the defensive. He may "clam up" or get angry. Do not argue - if you win, you lose!
  9. Ask questions - This encourages the person and shows you are listening.
  10. Stop talking - This is first and last, because all other commandments depend on it. You just can't do good listening while you are talking.

Stage 2. State the Problem

  • Be tactful, but be specific.
  • Focus on behaviour and facts - not opinions, personalities and generalities.
  • Express the issues without bringing an expectation of a certain outcome.
  • Bring the problem as much as possible without intense emotions, or a negative tone in your voice or with negative body language.
  • State the problem with an "I" message. ego "This is how I perceive the situation".

Stage 3. Find a Solution.

  • If important, try to identify what has led to the present situation. What history needs to be understood.
  • Look at the implications for the future if the present situation continues.
  • Brainstorm ideas to bring a solution to the present problem. Discuss possible solutions.
  • Ask them to suggest what they would consider the best solution.
  • State the best solution from your point of view.
  • Identify if there is a possibility of compromise or whether repentance is needed from one or both parties.
  • Ask for a commitment to change. e.g. "Are you willing to do it?"

Group Application ...

  • Share your experiences, both positive and negative, of bringing confrontation to others.
  • What principles or guidelines for effective confrontation have you learned from these experiences?
  • What was the most important point in the teaching and sharing today for you?
  • What do you think you could put into practice?

Jesus Confronts the Church at Ephesus

Revelation 2:1-7

  • He reveals something of his own character, v. 1
  • He commends & encourages them, v. 2, 3
  • He reproves and confronts them, v. 4
  • He shows them what to do, v. 5
  • He encourages them again, v. 6
  • He assures them of blessing if they overcome, v. 7