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December 2015 Article

How to Confront Your Clients
By Jim Luger, CDEI
Certified Distance Education Instructor 

Sometimes it can be helpful to confront your clients’ illogical, incongruent, and contradictive statements, in order to help your clients more clearly understand their situation and their goals. Confrontations should be used only when necessary, however, and with the utmost sensitivity and tact.
 
Confronting with care
Tread lightly when confronting clients, otherwise you might harm or even destroy your relationship with them. If the relationship goes up in flames, you will be facing a battle that ends in an impasse—and no one will win. The proper way to confront someone’s illogical, incongruent, or contradictory stance is to simply—and without judgment—point out his or her incongruence or contradiction.
 
Why you should avoid judging
If you do not judge your client’s illogic, incongruence, or contradiction, you will allow him or her to see the problem clearly without having to defend it. When people understand their own cross-purposes, they intuitively try to resolve them. On the other hand, if you judge people’s conflicting stances, you risk humiliating them or causing them to stubbornly, and unproductively, defend those stances. You want to avoid an ‘I’m-right-and-you’re-wrong’ fight that distracts everyone from their important goals.
 
An example of buyer incongruence
Let’s say you have shown your buyer several houses, and he finally finds one he says he’d enjoy owning and living in. Then he says, “I’d like to look at some more houses.” You are willing to show the buyer more houses, but you wonder if his best interests would be served by ignoring this house, and perhaps losing it to another buyer, in order to keep looking at other houses. Here are a couple of confrontation examples to compare:
  • An ineffective confrontation
    “On one hand you would like to own this house, but on the other hand, you want to keep looking at other houses, which could be a waste of time, wouldn’t it?”
     
    The judgmental and critical add-on of that example would likely put the buyer on the defensive, blocking him from seeing the problem and sorting out possible solutions.

  • An effective confrontation You could confront the buyer’s incongruent stance with a statement such as, “You think you would enjoy living in this house, but on the other hand, you want to keep looking at other houses.”
     
    Just laying that statement on the table gives the buyer a feedback loop in which to see the incongruence of his strategy.
 
Confrontations should only be used when someone seems hopelessly blocked from finding his or her own logical, clear solutions. When you confront someone using these guidelines, you helpfully bring a discrepancy into light, without any scolding or demeaning undertones.

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