Use “Contrasting!”

No one enjoys having tough, confrontational exchanges.  Almost everyone gets nervous before them.  The problem is that many people do the easiest thing—they just decide not to have the confrontation.

And the problem is never resolved.

One of the goals I have with my clients is to equip them with tools that will help them get through these conversations as comfortably and as successfully as possible.  I’d like to introduce you to one of these tools today.  It’s called “Contrasting.” 

Before having the conversation, you must first determine EXACTLY what the problem is and name it.  Put it in a sentence.  This will give you clarity.  Make sure it is one item of focus, not multiple.  You only want to go after one thing at a time.  Then do these three steps:

  1. Try to determine what the other person might erroneously conclude about what you’re saying.
  2. Explain to them that this is NOT what you are saying.
  3. In contrast, tell them exactly what you DO mean.


“John, you promised me you would have labor costs at or below budget by the end of the month.  It ends up that you are 4% over budget.”


“I know you’ve been working very hard to cut expenses in your department.  I’m satisfied with your effort.  Please don’t hear me as being anything less than proud of your progress.  I’d just like to share a few ideas that might help you lower costs even more.”

Essentially, this takes the threat out of what you are saying to the person.  And it causes them not to push back.

It only takes a minute to do this little exercise but it can save you tons of stress.

Give it a shot this week!

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