In dealing with difficult people and managing conflict effectively, you need to understand and apply your negotiation skills with tact to deal with every relationship and it could be your boss, colleagues, business contacts, friends or even spouse or acquaintances. The ways to dealing with difficult people or managing conflict is also to first look at your own expectations and agendas and then, skillfully apply your negotiation skills fairly.
Difficult people can be of many personality types that you may encounter and that can be those of intimidating and provocative type to those who resort to threats to get what they want.
There are those who always sidestep an issue, procrastinate and avoid talking the topic. While on the contrary; there is the “touch-me-nots” type whom shows physical fear when confronted.
Another type is the “take-it-or-leave-it” or “all-or-nothing” attitude.
The answer to dealing with difficult people is not to try to eliminate it or sweep it under the carpet; there will be something else that triggers it to surface again. The secret is to how to deal with different kinds of people you interact with daily and have the upper hand in reaching well-negotiated settlements that are in the interest of all concerned.
Conflict is the result of two different points of view and it can be used as a tool for both parties to grow. It is also neutral and what makes it positive or negative is how conflict or the differences is managed.
You cannot change or manage another person’s behavior but knowing which approach works best with which personality is your key to better negotiation experiences.
Conflict can be summarised into just two: personal and / or organizational issues and everyone is right in his own mind and entitled to his opinion. It gives the opportunity to grow, learn, modify or adjust a person beliefs or behavior.
What to say and what not to say is also important in managing conflict. For example; “What” warrant factual responses and “Why” are judgmental. Compare the followings;
- Why did you do that? (Confrontational)
- What was the motivation for doing that? (Information seeking)
Never be pressured into unacceptable agreements. Insist on fair, reasonable agreement terms that are beneficial to all and continue to negotiate only if fair procedures can be agreed upon.
You cannot always make everyone 100 per cent happy and what you can do is ensure that what you have suggested, recommended, solved or anticipated is reasonable and/or acceptable to everyone.
When dealing with those of bullying, intimidating, provocative and those resort to threats.
Be assertive right from the start when dealing with this group of people. Confront and tell him if he is behaving in a way that is not acceptable to you and name that behavior. Leave no doubt what is acceptable and what is not and as to where you would draw the line.
Create negative consequences that far outstrip the benefits that they think they will get from their bullying behaviors. After having the upper hand in this situation, always offer alternatives deals so that he does not loose his pride and offer solution like “why don’t we work together on this….” This way it causes him to be more conscious of his behavior that has an effect on others.
Dealing with those who tend to procrastinate, postpone decisions, change the subject or avoid the topic and the “touch-me-nots” type.
Show him the consequences of his decision. Present it as a non-threatening factual report and you are merely stating obvious consequences that he cannot take it lightly.
Offer these people reassurance, help to build their self esteem and make them realize that they have something to contribute.
When dealing with “take-it-or-leave-it” or “all-or-nothing” attitude.
Silence is the most effective weapons in dealing with people with attitude problem. Remember, in this situation say absolutely nothing and who ever open its mouth first, looses. With no ammunition to keep the confrontation going, he will start to backtrack and become more reasonable.
Another tactic is to cut the exchanges with these people short by saying: I’ll talk with you further on this when you are more reasonable and change the subject. Pretend not to hear the demand and only when the attack stops; bring the real problem back and treat the attack like it never happened.
When people makes unreasonable demands, do not object outright and instead, allow him to justify his position or vent his feelings. Turn that into a problem-solving activity that will make the other feel that he has contributed positively.
Learn in dealing with difficult people and managing conflict with your negotiation skills as teaching about you and your tendencies. It takes two people or more to trigger the above.
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Author: Anthony Lim
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