Confidence: Not Confrontation

Confident people do not confront others; they help them make more conscious decisions.

The term, confrontation, has a negative connotation. It implies telling someone something they don’t want to hear. We tend to avoid confrontation because we risk angering the other person or damaging our relationship with them.

Fortunately, it doesn’t have to be that way.

Confidence and candor

Confident people learn not to “tell” someone something they don’t want to hear. Instead they ask questions that enable the person to rethink their position. Here are some examples of the situations confident people face and the questions they ask:


Instead of disagreeing with someone, confident people ask:

“How would that work in [this situation]?”
“What would happen if [what you feel the person is overlooking]?”
“Will that work when [situation]?”


Giving instructions is another way of telling others what to do. Confident people ask:

“Instead of doing A, B, then C, what would happen if we did A, C, then B?”
“What would happen if we [alternative approach]?”
“Is it possible to [alternative approach]?”

Unacceptable behavior

When someone behaves in a way a confident person doesn’t like, the confident person asks:

“How would you feel if someone [did what the person just did, said what you said]?”
“I doubt that you intended [what you felt], what is it that you want me to do?”
“Can we agree to discuss this without letting it get personal?”


Instead of “telling” someone that they need to be more precise in their language, a confident person asks:

“When you say [term or phrase], do you mean [alternative meanings]?”
“Can you give me an example to illustrate your point?”
“Does this apply to [the situation you’re discussing] or is it more universal in its application?”


As you can see, asking questions doesn’t indicate displeasure with the other person, denigrate them or put them on the defensive. You’re merely asking for clarification which puts them in the mode of reevaluating what they said or did.

That’s huge. It’s why, and how, confident people are candid without triggering angry responses, damaging relationships or triggering defensiveness. Occasionally someone will say to me “I don’t know how you get by saying some of the things you do.” It’s because I ask questions that make a point candidly without triggering negative reactions.

For you

The next time you feel the need to confront someone, and are dreading it, pause and convert what you were about to say into a question. You’ll find that the fear, anxiety and dread you’re experiencing are quickly replaced with excitement over how to move forward with compassion and confidence.

For our kids

When your kids dread confronting another person, don’t want to talk about what they’re experiencing or launch an angry attack on another person, share with them the difference between being candid and confrontational.

Then help them formulate questions to convert their frustration to compassion and confidence. Don’t forget to live the message. Kids embrace what we do more readily than what we say.

If you’d like to enrich the lives of others by teaching them to be more confident, check out our Teaching Confidence Instructor Certification program.

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2 Responses

  1. Bill Prenatt

    Dale, Once again you come through with a game changer. You strategy is also a great way to anticipate and handle client resistance in a sales situation.

    Why are we so quick to want to defend our position? Is it due to our lack of confidence?

    • Dale Furtwengler

      Bill, you’re right this is a great way to handle resistance in sales situations…and as too many fail to realize, when we’re pitching any idea to anyone (family, friends, kids or prospective customers) we’re selling.

      Being quick to defend our position stems from two things. One is that we’re wired to try to protect our ego and retain whatever credibility we feel that we have with the other person. Second, it’s often the way the other person communicated their resistance that triggers the defensive posture.

      As indicated in this blog post, most of us haven’t been taught how to disagree with an idea without putting the other person on the defensive. Unfortunately that can be true of confident people as well as those who lack confidence. It’s just that confidence helps us consider the impact on others’ feelings before we communicate so that even if we don’t use questions, our disagreement doesn’t threaten the other person’s self-esteem. I hope I’ve answered your questions.

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