It happens. It happens in roller derby just like it happens outside of roller derby. Sooner or later someone is going to display some behavior that doesn't jive with your league culture*
*Side note- if you league culture isn't recognizable enough to know whether or not someone's behavior jives with it, then you need to take a step back and establish an intentional league culture (there are other blog posts about that).
Confronting someone's behavior can end on a positive note where that person has a clear understanding of what is expected of them and some tools to achieve those expectations.
It can result on tears, anger, yelling, denial and no indication that the behavior in question will improve whatsoever.
The kicker is that the language you use when approaching someone about problematic behavior largely contributes to the success of that conversation.
Needless to say, facilitating a constructive confrontation is challenging. It requires practiced and skillful communication.
Try the following tip the next time you are tasked with talking to a league-mate about their negative behavior.
When framing the behavior, make it:
About the behavior, rather than about the person.
"During that scrimmage you called the ref names."
"You were inappropriate at that scrimmage."
An observation, rather than an inference.
"You rolled your eyes when the coach was giving us feedback."
"You don't care what coach has to say."
Descriptive, rather than judgmental.
"You raised your voice to the point that you were yelling and you leaned your body and face towards her so you were coming across as being aggressive."
"You were being a douche bag"
Specific, rather than abstract.
"You have gotten on the track at least ten minutes late three times in the past two weeks."
"You are always late to everything."
Sharing of information and ideas, rather than giving advice
"Some people 'take a minute' when they start to become frustrated." -or- "I know someone who, after a bad call, sits at the end of the bench and recites their goals for the season to themselves to get their head back in the game."
"You should stop and count to ten and take deep breaths to calm down."
Exploring alternatives rather than giving answers.
"What are some things you can try when you start to feel upset at a ref's call? Are there any coping skills you use outside of roller derby that work for you?"
"You need to use comping mechanisms to calm yourself down when you become angry."
Now, utilizing these techniques doesn't mean that everyone is suddenly going to be super stoked to be getting confronted on their behavior. However, framing the conversation this way can help people not be on the defensive. Instead of feeling attacked, your league mate will feel like you are invested in helping them be successful on and off the track. They are more likely to be open to listening to what you have to say and to think critically about their behavior and how it might be negatively effecting their team mates.
These communication tools are covered along conflict resolution skills and more in an upcoming webinar Sunday March 20th 12pm-2pm PDT. Follow the link the the FB event below.
Conflict Resolution and Communication Skills for Roller Derby
Gibb, J.R. “Defensive Communication” Journal of Communication 11,3 September, 1961