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It’s funny, but the much-discussed Jon Stewart – Jim Cramer interview on The Daily Show has me thinking about the responses to my “How to Break Up with a Friend” post.  The post asked the question, is it better to “go dark” to end a friendship, or stage a confrontation/explanation of why you’re upset and don’t want to know the person anymore? 

While clearly Cramer and Stewart are not and never were friends, I think the interview had a lot of the hallmarks of the kind of confrontation that mature adults have when they have come to a crossroads in their relationship (minus the occasional four-letter words, which are beeped out in the video clips below).  So check out the interview, and tell me if you also noticed 3 signs of a helpful, smart confrontation:

1. Both parties maintained an even tone of voice.  Granted, there is a “television tone” that is required in any interview, but Cramer especially is not known for keeping his voice calm and slow.  Modulating your voice allows the person to better hear your words rather than reacting emotionally to the pitch of your voice.

2. Be ready to talk/be ready to listen. In any successful confrontation, two things have to happen: the confronter has to be prepared with the specific things he or she wants to say, and the person being confronted has to be ready to listen.  Cramer, probably in an effort to get out of the studio alive, but hey, now I’m being cynical, did a lot of “you’re right” and even called back a defensive “hey, but I never….” reaction at one point.

3. “It’s not personal, it’s just business.”  At one point, Stewart said, “As Carly Simon said, this song ain’t about you,” to which Cramer responded, “You’re right, I don’t want to personalize it.”  Hearing a criticism without taking it personally is a major skill (anyone offering lessons on how to do this, I would be a willing student….) and very important in a constructive confrontation.




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