Effective vs. Ineffective Forms of Confrontation – What environment are you creating around you?

Danny Silk

As leaders, it is our responsibility to create an environment where people feel honored, and therefore, safe to be confronted. There will be no culture of honor without the active use of effective confrontation. The skill of combining these two relational elements-honor and confrontation- is the key to sustaining an environment of grace.

A foundational key to leadership is: I will not work harder on your problems than you are willing to work. It can be challenging to lead others when they are not willing to work on their own problems. To be aware of what is happening inside of me when I feel I cannot control another person is critical to my ability to have influence in the lives around me.

Here are three common ineffective ways we respond when choices affect us:

1.     Passive

I know I cannot control you, so I will not get involved. If I get involved, it could get messy. Other people might get hurt. I might get hurt. You might get hurt. I would rather keep the peace and do nothing to engage.

2.     Aggressive

I believe it is my job to “fix” your problem. This might take the form of giving a lot of advice and solutions. When my advice is not received, I might feel angry and attempt to convince or demand that my way is right and my advice needs to be followed.

3.     Passive-aggressive

I will feel angry and possibly hostile about the way I am being affected. I might make back-handed or sarcastic comments about the way those choices are causing problems for me. When asked, I choose to disengage or pretend everything is fine. I may deny it is affecting me at all, though my emotions are sending the signal that something is clearly wrong.


The effective ways to respond:

 Assertive Communication

I will tell you about what is happening inside of me, and how your behavior is affecting me.

I will actively engage with compassion and gentleness.

I will ask questions, putting the responsibility upon the person being confronted.

I will offer support by listening without judgment.

I will offer my unconditional love.

I will only offer advice or counsel when it is being asked of me, and it is clear it will be valued.

I understand it is not my job to fix you or tackle your problem for you, no matter how powerless you are presenting yourself to me.

I offer support, encouragement, belief, hope, and assurance.

I will be willing to set boundaries with someone unwilling to see how behaviors are affecting myself or others.

The process of confrontation is a process of empowerment, not domination. When we demonstrate the effective use of tools for confrontation, guided by gentleness instead of control, the people around us will feel safe to become who God has created them to be.


Take a moment to think about the way you are leading. Are you setting an example of healthy confrontation for those you lead? Lasting change always comes from the top down.


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  1. Whatever trials we go through I have found that Trusting God is the only way as I have spoken with lots of different people from all walks of life and values to what seems to me to me of no avail. Yes I should have reported the bullying and abuse to police but hey when you’re so called friends and people you know including close family don’t believe you why would the police. I could not take any more abuse at the time. One of my daughters is still being attacked in a very subtle and controlling manner. I still feel at times that people around me are hinting possibly encouraging me to pursue to take this matter further but I don’t understand why with all the video evidence and witnesses at the time I have not been approached by authorities. Besides who and where would I go.

  2. This is so good and confirmation of a culture workshop our team at work just attended this morning where we covered confrontation. Thank you Danny!

  3. How can this be applied to grandparent and parental alienation? It has become an unspoken and shame filled epidemic. It is child abuse and elder abuse no matter who is the perpetrator.

    1. Healthy boundaries and persons’ choices leading them to be estranged are not synonymous with abuse. It is disappointing but dysfunction does affect all generations until
      The adults decide to be adults, work on themselves – and stop the dysfunction. The children are best served to not experience adults behaving dysfunctionally if that is what happens when they are all together. Parents ( adult children who are parents ) should be honored in front of their own children by the children’s grandparents ..and the adult children ( parents of the children) wishes for the children respected without challenging- especially in front of the children. We have a healthy population of narcissistic grandparents thinking they are coparents with their adult children and demanding to be heard and in fact being very overbearing to the point of damaging relationships. Adult children can also be the ones needing growth in understanding their own proper roles. Everyone has to be willing to work. The healthier each person gets the easier it is to see what is and see what one is responsible for. ( themselves, their behavior, their perspective and feelings) heartache is real – especially if others are not willing to be introspective and deal with their own issues. These things take a lot of time to unravel. It is more rare to fin families willing to rollup their sleeves and work on themselves for the duration of time it takes to reset the patterns and create a culture of honor. But by the grace of God we hope and pray for reconciliation in all of these things!

  4. I am newly employed at a faith based substance abuse treatment center up in Anchorage. The leadership cultivates honor and uses respect to model love. I am learning so much about how to be effective in empowering others to make changes in their lives. I am blessed that I was able to attend your KYLO and sincerely appreciate your work. Thank you for your investments in the lives of people and your living example of how to be children of God.

  5. I am feeling helpless as a grandparent watching my kids struggle with my grandson. He will not cooperate in school, won’t complete work, doesn’t eat healthy or sleep! Things are out-of-control! How can I encourage success?

  6. This is so incredibly challenging (in a good way!) to me as the mom of three boys, ages 12, 9 & 5. I have enjoyed Loving Our Kids on Purpose as well as your podcast. I am now reading Parenting with Love and Logic and things are beginning to really make sense. It is a bit overwhelming to make the necessary changes in parenting, but in my heart I know these are principles straight out of God’s kingdom. Thank you so much for this!

  7. This is really good and very helpful. Looking forward to implementing this on both ends of leadership. Thank you!

  8. Really good stuff; the simple list of do’s and don’ts is an excellent guidepost to use in confrontations. Well done. Thanks,

  9. Your teachings are excellent Danny. Thank you so much for sharing, your advice helps me to be grounded in truth when I am in difficult situations.

  10. Danny how do you help an eleven year old boy who has had so much rejection and inconsistency in in his life, who only has a ‘nan’ who is always there? a boy who has been convinced by teachers that he ‘owns’ an anger problem, a lad who is scared, and whos’ nan is also concerned for him?

  11. Thank you! I started getting a little crazy over an extended family issue and realized I was wanting outcomes so desperately though I had NO CONTROL. I set a boundary & WOW, my peace & sanity has returned! I resigned my position as fixer, ha. I have kept my love on & communication open, though I set a boundary of no longer wanting to hear about, talk about, or know about the dysfunction. Lots of other things to talk about. I feel like I’m doing something wrong but I feel so much peace & joy. Praying that God will show me how best to love.

  12. Very helpful indeed, Danny, it shows up the areas in which I need to change . This helps Close relationships I have be on a more even keel. Thank you.

  13. Walking this out is the hardest with adult children. When the parent knows what they are capable of, knows their calling, desires to help because they love being with them but the they no longer have the place of enfluence they once had. Lord help me! Thanks Danny. Very equipping blog.

  14. Hi Danny

    Thanks for this valuable and insightful article.
    I would love to teach this to our congregation. Would you be able to supply scripture references to support these principles?
    Blessings, Gareth

  15. Thank you! This is wonderful! Do you have any resources for adult children with unbelieving parents? We are not always sure what boundaries we should be setting for them and our children who obviously need their grandparents but grandparents often have some very concerning views, habits and attitudes. Do you have any book recommendations for confronting parents and setting boundaries in an honoring way?

  16. Thank you for for this amazing blog! I love your insight on leadership. It is helping me and my husband all the way in Norway. Thank you for being led.

  17. Thanks Danny, this is great.
    Would love to see some examples.
    I find examples make it so much easier to implement yourself. I agree with all this stuff but then struggle in the heat of the moment to actually do it.

  18. What to do when a person is toxic should you still confront? Or just stay away from the person, before it affects you or your family

  19. I found this an eye opening small nut. So I divided it in three parts and shared it on my FB-time-line. I translated these parts in my native language. I hope it is OK – I didn’t ask Your permission. I gave You the "honour" and included link to this block to my share.

  20. Thank you Danny,
    I will be rereading this again ..
    my husband and are pastors of a small church .. we will be celebrating 1 yrs on Nov. 8..
    it’s been an experience..
    Thank you for sharing with us .. God Bless

  21. Hey Danny,
    Great advice thanks, we run a medium sized business and this is really helpful, especially:
    ‘I understand it is not my job to fix you or tackle your problem for you, no matter how powerless you are presenting yourself to me.’
    We always get our staff to bring a couple of possible solutions when they present a problem.
    Again, really appreciate this.
    New Zealand

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