Care-Fronting is Confronting in a Caring Way
We are most useful as care-fronters when we are not so much trying to change other people as we are trying to help them see themselves more accurately.
Care-fronting works like showing people their reflections in a mirror or having them watch a videotape of themselves. They get a perspective on themselves that they cannot achieve any other way.
Care-fronting is not trying to motivate people to change by condemning them. Sometimes we are tempted to try to get people to change by making them feel guilty. Instead, we should firmly but lovingly communicate how their actions are affecting us and then leave the results to God. This way the change will be sincere, not the result of manipulation.
Care-Fronting Risks Conflict
Whenever we tell someone the truth, we risk conflict. Conflict is normal-it is not something to be avoided if we are going to build healthy relationships. There are options available when we face conflict. Each is sometimes appropriate, but one of them is generally the best option.
Five Options for Dealing with Conflict
I WIN; YOU LOSE.
On rare occasions we have to exercise authority and overpower others. This may send a message that we do not care about them or their feelings.
If we constantly withdraw from conflict, noting is ever solved. However, it is appropriate to withdraw and regroup if we are in conflict with someone who is about to overpower us.
I GIVE IN.
If the source of conflict is an issue that does not matter, it is okay to give in to the other person. However, if we are always giving in and not standing our ground, we will become angry on the inside even though we may be smiling on the outside.
I WILL MEET YOU HALFWAY.
This is an excellent way to resolve conflict. Negotiation is used to settle everyday differences. The problems come when we are pressured to violate our standards in order to reach a settlement. Truth cannot be sacrificed for peace.
I CARE ENOUGH TO CONFRONT.
This is an excellent way to approach a conflict. We let others know what we want and need from them. We let them see how their actions are impacting us, and at the same time, we are asking them how they see us and what they need from us. This approach communicates care and respect, and it strengthens the bonds between people.
Carefully Frame Your Words to Help a Person Level and Respond Honestly
Focus your feedback on your observations, not your conclusions. Comment not on what you think, imagine, or infer but on what you have actually seen or heard. Conclusions will evoke immediate defensiveness. Example: "You are not looking at me and not answering when I speak. Please give me your attention and answer.
Focus your feedback on descriptions, not judgments. Do not comment on another's behavior as nice or rude, right or wrong. Use a clear, accurate description in neutral language. When a value judgment is received, there is a momentary break in contact. Example: "I am aware that your reply to my request for information was silence. Please tell me what this means."
Focus feedback on ideas, information, and alternatives, not advice and answers. Comment not with instructions on what to do with the data you have to offer but with the data, the facts, the additional options. The more options that are available, the less likely it is that a person will come to a premature solution. Example: "I have several other options that you may have thought about, but let me run them by you again."
Focus feedback not on why but on what and how. "Why" critiques values, motives and intents. "Why" is judgmental; "what" and "how" relate to observable actions, behaviors, words, and tone of voice. Example: "Here is where we are; let's examine it."
Care-fronting should be done in a caring, gentle, constructive, and clear manner. Never care-front in a way that could be interpreted as blaming, shaming, or punishing.
Taken from Living Free Coordinator's Guide, Jimmy Ray Lee and Dan Strickland, Turning Point, Chattanooga, TN, 1999, pp 127-129. Used by permission
Adapted from the book Caring Enough to Confront by David Augsburger, copyright by Herald Press. Scottdale, PA 15683. Used by permission