Steps to take if you need to confront someone.

‘All this may be a little scary at first. But don’t let the fear paralyse
 you. It’s just your avoider trying to keep you out of trouble.’
Ronald Potter-Efron, in his book, ‘Letting go of Anger’.

Step 1. Prepare.  Write:
(i) all the reasons why the situation needs to change (or why you are saying ‘no’).
(ii) The arguments the other person might make. Be thorough.
(iii) The flaws in those arguments.
(iv) The flaws in your arguments. (It’s hard, but it’s an important step.)
(v) Alternative solutions to please both parties.
(vi) What you want to say to the person. (Remember, don’t exaggerate. Don’t plan to say, ‘You are always late!’; instead try, ‘You are 20 minutes late and it is the third time this week’. Keep it truthful. Keep it short. The important bit: work out precisely what you want to happen from now on.
(vii) Read the assertiveness keys again – some might apply.

With all your material, consider writing a letter to the recipient. Presenting a clear, detailed letter is a good way to be assertive: you get to say everything you want to say without nerves interfering. Plus, it’s less confrontational, and the recipient has time to think of a considered response.

Step 2. Avoid having an apologetic manner. Eliminate the ‘Sorrys’ and ‘if you wouldn’t minds’in your list, or letter. Don’t enter Wimp City.

Step 3. Practise with a friend. State the problem and how it disturbs you, and what you want to happen. Get the friend to role play, and try to change your mind.
(i) Don’t allow yourself to be sidetracked. Just keep giving your message. It’s a good way to avoid becoming flustered.
(ii) Focus on what needs to happen.
‘You should allow me to return this item.’ Incorrect. Try instead: ‘Please return my money.’

Step 4. Arrange a time to meet the person. With a calm mind and a gentle approach, tell the person you would like to speak with them. Is now a good time?

If now is not a good time, arrange to meet the person at a time and place which suits you both, and where you won’t be interrupted. For example, don’t pick on your partner as soon as they get home tired. Give the person space.
You: ‘I wish to speak with you. Do you have a few minutes?’
‘What about?’
You: ‘Do you have a few minutes?’
‘What’s this about?’
You: ‘It’s about . . .’   Wrong. Don’t begin the discussion until you have been assured that you will have a few minutes with them. The last thing you want is to begin and be fobbed off: ‘Well, now isn’t a good time.’ Try instead:
You: ‘When is a good time to speak with you?’
‘About what?’
‘Do you have a few minutes to speak with me? Yes or no?’
If the person says ‘Yes’, go to the next step.
If the person says, ‘No, not now,’ accept that, but arrange a specific time with that person.
You: ‘Okay, 8.15 tomorrow night? Right?’

Another example:
‘I wish to speak with you. Do you have a few minutes?’
‘What about?’
‘Do you have a few minutes?’
‘Oh my, this is about what I said earlier, isn’t it?’ (Gets upset.)
‘I can see you’re upset and I understand why. We do need to discuss it though. Let’s discuss it tomorrow when you have had time to think about it and calm down. How about 10am?’
‘Yes please.’
Your offer is a good one, because a conversation without tears is a better one to have. (Although there is no guarantee tomorrow will be less tearful).

Another example:
‘I wish to speak with you. Do you have a few minutes?’
‘What about?’
‘Do you have a few minutes?’
‘If this is about what I said to you . . ! (Gets nasty or defensive.)
‘Can we talk about it now?
‘There is nothing to talk about!’  (talks in a defensive manner)
After the person has finished talking:
‘I understand what you are saying, but I still want talk about it. Can we talk about it now, please?’
Being assertive often doesn’t get what you want. What you do from there will depend on the situation. However, because you have approached the situation in an assertive way, you will feel better about yourself and the situation.

Step 5. Begin the discussion.
Be bold. Make eye contact. Stand straight. Speak normally, enough to be heard. And speak calmly.
‘I wish to speak with you about . . . I felt hurt by . . .’
Remember, don’t exaggerate. Keep it truthful. Keep it short. Explain calmly how you feel about the incident, and what you want to happen from now on. Focus on that. That’s your mast.
After the other person has spoken, let them know you understood their point of view.

Step 6. Afterwards, recall what happened and devise ways of doing better next time (no matter how well, or how poorly, it went).

Congratulate yourself that you gave it a go. Remind yourself that it takes courage to confront someone. Also remind yourself that it gets easier the more you do it.