CPR For Confrontations

Do you ever avoid confrontations?

Maybe the better question is, “How often do you avoid confrontations?” When I was a manager, there was an individual who routinely shouted at colleagues, had outbursts of anger when she didn’t get her way, snapped at clients when they phoned the office and physically intimidated others.

As a leader it was my responsibility to do something about her behaviour.

Yikes! Would pretending I didn’t see the behaviour help it go away? Isn’t that what most leaders do?

Here’s what typically happens:

When leaders decide to do something about problem behaviour, they tend to use the Groundhog Day Approach (from the movie “Groundhog Day”). Even though an issue keeps recurring, the leader discusses each instance as though it’s the first time it has ever occurred. They then live the same problem over and over and nothing ever changes! (And others re-live the problem over and over too!) You’ve seen or lived this, haven’t you? You don’t need me to tell you, it doesn’t work. Here’s what does work.

Know What Conversation to Have!

You can’t have a successful conversation and outcome if you don’t address the proper issue.

Use a CPR Approach

(from “Crucial Confrontations”)


  • First time there’s a problem you address the Content.
  • An employee is late, the discussion is then focused on arriving late to work.


  • Next time it happens, it isn’t about being late, it’s about the Pattern.
  • These conversations indicate there has been a history of the problem.
  • “This is the 2nd time you’ve been late. You made an agreement it wouldn’t happen again and now I’m concerned that I can’t rely on you to keep your word.”


  • If the problem continues, you then move to the Relationship conversation.
  • This is a much bigger conversation because it is about lack of trust in the relationship.
  • “This is really affecting our working relationship. I have to keep speaking to you about arriving on time. It’s gotten to the point where I can’t trust what you say you will do.”

Knowing what conversation to have will definitely improve your communication success AND it will make the conversation very clear to the employee. It only works though, if you apply it!

To Your Success



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