From birth most of us have been taught to avoid confrontation, whether to be nice or to be liked or get along or just to be polite. And in moderation, avoiding conflict is all well and good. However, be it in establishing personal boundaries or in holding others accountable, there is a time and a place where the ability to have a civil confrontation is a necessity, even a survival skill.

Where most of us go wrong is that we do not lay the proper foundation. Not having a mature comfort level with initiating challenging conversations, we postpone the discussion, engage in magical thinking, hoping against hope it will resolve itself but it rarely does. We tend to hold it in, letting it build up until we explode in frustration or resentment eats away at our insides, corroding the relationship.


  1. Talk it out up front, when the first inklings appear and agree on mutual expectations, clear cut standards to which you both consent. If they are unwilling to engage with you, consider it a red flag, a flashing neon sign of trouble ahead. You deserve better; in large measure the quality of your life is the quality of the five people you spend the most time with. Ask yourself why you are choosing to continue the interaction, consider doing something for which your future self will be grateful.
  2. Once a mutual pact has been made, do not allow slippage. The road to ruin is a spiral, a gentle but persistent bent in the straight and narrow. Just as success is the sum of small efforts, repeated day in and day out, so too is failure most often the steady accumulation of consistent, daily lapses of will and effort. When in doubt, listen to the BEHAVIOR! No matter how smooth the response, at some point you can no longer talk your way out of what you’ve behaved yourself into. An apology without a change in conduct is at best verbal manipulation, at worst an out and out lie.

Closing Quotes:

“Great teammates hold each other accountable to the high standards and excellence their culture expects and demands.” – Jon Gordon

“Failure to hold someone accountable is really an act of weakness, of cowardice, of selfishness; an unwillingness to sum the strength to act appropriately. In contrast, the willingness to engage in a direct conversation is a sign of respect and caring.” – NSC

“No matter what is said or written, if substandard performance is accepted and no one is held accountable, if there are no consequences, that poor performance becomes the new standard.” – Jocko Willink, Extreme Ownership: How U.S. Navy SEALs Lead and Win

As always, I share what I most want and need to learn. – Nathan S. Collier