Some behaviors are undesirable and require confrontation. That’s true. But what is not necessarily true are our assumptions about WHY the person is behaving this way. And failure to check that about ourselves destroys this process before it gets started.
Here’s what happens, and it happens in less than 5 seconds. We observe an undesirable behavior by someone else. The first question that pops reflexively into our mind is, “Why are they behaving that way!?” And the vast majority of the time we unconsciously seize upon some unflattering narrative that attributes to the other person some character flaw or moral deficiency that explains their behavior, and allows us to take the high moral ground in our heads. “They’re lazy.” “They don’t really care about what I need.” “They’re selfish.” “They’re too dumb to understand this.” “They’re trying to get by with something!” “They’re dishonest.” “They have an anger problem.” The list goes on.
Social psychologists in the 60’s and 70’s established by several experiments that human beings are very poor at explaining the behavior of others. We tend to explain the behavior of others in terms of their disposition, and less so because of the situation. We explain behavior with the assumption, “That’s just how they are.” It has a name: Fundamental Attribution Error. We attribute behavior to their disposition, and not so much the situation that may have influenced the behavior. The person who cuts in line in front of you at Wal-Mart does so because he’s a pushy jerk, and not because he’s got diminished peripheral vision in one eye and didn’t see you. If you can’t develop an awareness of your Inner Narrative you will never be a good “Tactical Confrontationalist.” This is the “Zen” of Tactical Confrontation.