You probably hate confrontation just as much as the next guy, right? And it’s probably because you’re either scared that the conversation is going to be terribly awkward and so you put it on the backburner, or you’re frustrated but don’t want to make a big deal of it and so you just bottle it up.
Wrong, wrong, wrong. Neither option is good for handling confrontation.
So what is the best way to hash out a problem? We asked the Young Entrepreneur Council, “What is your No. 1 tip for confronting adversity head on?” for some tips:
1. Don’t wait.
When confronting adversity, big or small, it’s important to tackle the root causes quickly. That doesn’t mean reacting without thought or planning, but be prepared to prioritize these problems quickly and identify the real source. If left on the backburner, the adversity grows, fear and doubt set in, and control of the situation or options diminishes. So inhale, identify, plan and tackle.
—Matthew Gellis, Keystone Solutions
2. Feel, then deal.
Take a few minutes to accept and process the feeling resulting from the adversity before fixing the problem. Writing a page in a journal to vent on paper or doing some tapping (also known as the emotional freedom technique) for a few minutes can help move the emotion out of the body. This allows a leader to approach the problem with wisdom and neutrality versus fear and adrenaline.
—Erin Weed, The Dig®
3. Speak about it in person.
If there is an issue—any issue—it’s always best to ask the person to go out for a walk or coffee and hash it out. Bottling it up and not addressing it is the worst course of action. And never try to talk it out over email. If it’s really important, it needs to be addressed in person.
—Jordan Fliegel, CoachUp Inc.
4. Express empathy.
When confronted with adversity, it’s important that you don’t just try to create a solution as quickly as possible and risk neglecting someone’s feelings or point of view. Take time to understand their side of the story and show this sense of understanding clearly. Then, work together to reach a middle ground. Do not sweep opinions under the rug, but spend time working with them.
—Miles Jennings, Recruiter.com
5. Identify your goals.
Before heading into a bad situation, make sure you understand it and that you’re fully prepped. Then figure out what you want to walk away with. What is your goal after the confrontation? Remember that it’s about the business performance, not about a person’s personality or something that you can’t change. Work toward your goal with a positive attitude, knowing the limits of what can or cannot change.
—Dr. Wei-Shin Lai, AcousticSheep LLC
6. Remember it’s part of your job.
Whenever I approach one of our advisors with a problem he often says, “It’s your job to deal with hard problems,” which sounds harsh but true. Dealing with adversity and overcoming it is a huge part of starting and running a company.
—Joseph Walla, HelloSign
7. Make friends with adversity.
Be prepared and understand that adversity is something you’re going to have to face every day. If you believe that business is full of highs and not so many lows, then you won’t be in business for long. Be constantly aware and willing to fight adversity in all aspects of your business every day.
—Mark Samuel, IWON Organics
8. Remember bad news travels fast.
Whenever you face adversity, it’s important to communicate as quickly as possible to all relevant stakeholders (investors, partners, customers, etc). Entrepreneurs are born problem-solvers, but it doesn’t mean you should keep problems close to the vest because they will fester. Rip off the Band-Aid, face reality and focus on how to overcome the issue with your stakeholders.
—Nick Braun, Cloud
I always think about the worst-case scenario in situations that I’m in. I make sure that that worst case is something that I can handle. That way, I can be positive and smile through adverse situations. Life is good!
—Thomas Cullen, St. Bonaventure University
10. Communicate from the top.
Take the lead personally. It’s extremely important that all of our team hears directly from the founders on any issue of confusion or change of direction that comes up. A quick email from the CEO can immediately answer any questions and provide confidence to the rest of the team.
—Ross Cohen, The Lifetime Value Co.
11. Take one day at a time.
It’s not an easy road. Outsiders may think, This is a well-established business!, but it didn’t used to be. It started small—they all do. So it’s vital to motivate young people to believe that things can go well and that their businesses will grow with time and effort. Each day comes with problems, so why stress about tomorrow?
—Alfredo Atanacio, Uassist.ME
Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) is an invite-only organization comprised of the world’s most promising young entrepreneurs. In partnership with Citi, YEC recently launched BusinessCollective, a free virtual mentorship program that helps millions of entrepreneurs start and grow businesses.
This article was published in February 2016 and has been updated. Photo by