Decision Workshops

Dilemma Analysis or Confrontation Analysis?

The technique of Dilemma Analysis us also known as "Confrontation Analysis".  However the word “confrontation” usually evokes negative reactions, visions of menacing eye contact, of people looking for a fight, squaring up to one another. For many people, a confrontation is something to be avoided, perhaps at all costs.


That’s certainly one form of confrontation, but if you define any  attempt to get the co-operation of potentially unwilling people as a confrontation, and anyone in a position of leadership will, like it or not, get involved with them.


And of course co-operation can be achieved in a positive way rather than a negative.  You can point out the benefits of co-operation, use persuasion and logical argument, offer incentives, and appeal to somebody’s better nature.  All these actions are covered by Dilemma Analysis.  In any particular context some strategies will work better than others: deciding which to use is what Dilemma Analysis is all about.

Lift to School

Even in a win/win, you can still be in a confrontation.

Confrontations can also occur when people are trying to work with each other, (but potentially might not), so sharing lifts can cause a confrontation, as can negotiating an agreement with your friend over babysitting, or when two companies bid for a contract in co-operation with one another.  All three of these examples are win/win situations, where both sides can and usually do benefit from co-operating and using positive emotions.  But as anyone who’s ever taken part in these activities knows, even win/wins are not always problem free.  

The Lift to School: It's not always this idyllic. Even

co-operative ventures can cause difficulties if one party exploits the goodness of another without reciprocating.

For example would you be happy if you took your neighbour’s child to school 80% of the time, and he only took yours 20%? Would you still be happy if he then phoned up, and asked you to do 100% for the next three weeks?


It is understanding and dealing with precisely these kinds of dilemmas that is the heart of what Decision Workshops does.  To find out more about the subject, see the rest of the website.


Plucky little Belgium: This cartoon published in Punch at the start of the First World War illustrates what most people think of as a confrontation.  Belgium, depicted as a small boy, stands up to a bullying Germany. The stand was made, but at the cost of immeasurable pain and suffering.