When leaders make decisions. When coaches intervene in a coaching conversation. When parents ask their children to do something they don’t want to do.
These are all situations that can create tension between what people are asked to do and what they want to do. These situations are unavoidable. Sometimes we even know that they will hurt.
It doesn’t help to try to excuse oneself out of the situation. It doesn’t serve anyone to try to make that situation comfortable.
That it is uncomfortable can be seen as an indicator that one is on the right path. There is discomfort because of an awareness that it can hurt and the ability, in the situation, to stay attuned to what the other might be experiencing.
It’s an awareness and discomfort that unfolds based on the objective to not do any harm. And it’s an understanding that no one can control how someone else will feel. It is impossible to know all the reasons that can lead to someone feeling hurt.
That’s where “carefrontational” comes in. It’s acting out of the knowledge that a decision has a consequence that is out of our control but that how we react to these consequences is within our control.
Leadership involves caring for what we do and that includes making decisions that may feel confrontational. Leadership also means to care for the people who are affected by our decisions, and that involves helping them deal with a given decision.
Hat tip to Roger Lehman who shared a name for this approach with us.