Step 8 – Attack the Problem, NOT the Person

By Dr. Ron Jenson

“It’s your fault!” “You drive me crazy!” “You’re always doing these kinds of things!” “You’re really the core of the problem!”  

Have you ever heard that or said it to someone else? I want you to notice the common word in these statements: the word “YOU.” And I want to talk about this concept, step number 8 in conflict resolution. That is to Learn to Attack the Problem, Not the Person. 

When people feel attacked, when you and I feel attacked, we want to run. We want to get away from the situation. Or we’ll react and get defensive or argumentative in the relationship. And that’s not a helpful thing to do. You don’t want to attack the person. You want to attack the problem.

Objectify the Problem

It’s not, “You’re a bad person.” It’s, “Here’s a bad situation that we need to address.”

DON’T use ‘YOU’ statements. Use ‘I’ statements

Don’t say, “You’re a liar.” Say, “I feel like what you told me wasn’t quite true or fully accurate.”

Be deferential.

  • Don’t step away.
  • Don’t push people into a corner.
  • Don’t try to shame people.

Remember, speak the truth with kindness and love, but be forthright.

You’re trying to resolve conflict.

So speak the truth with kindness by attacking the problem not the person.

Please share your comments, questions and insights below. Finally, if this is helpful for you, please pass it on to your friends and family via email or social media.