Let’s face it; people can be difficult.
Even if you consider yourself a people person, dealing with various needs, personalities, priorities, and quirks can be challenging.
There’s always going to be conflict.
Whether it’s a tough client, boss, or coworker, your overall success and happiness ultimately depend on how well you’re able to navigate that relationship.
The good news – it’s not as hard as you might think — as long as you keep these three tips in mind:
Tip #1: In any given situation, you have two realities:
1. The facts and 2. The interpretation of the facts.
We are not always going to agree on the interpretation. Here is an example:
Person A: This stinks! I was planning to go to an arts festival; my day is ruined!
Person B: How wonderful! My lawn needed this, and now I can curl up with a good book.
We all view facts differently. When you’re dealing with a difficult person or situation, you have to remember — there’s what happened, and there’s what each person thinks about what happened. Once you’ve considered this, it’s easier to resolve any friction.
Tip #2: Follow Stephen Covey’s advice to begin with the end in mind. (That’s habit #2 in his blockbuster book, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.)
People don’t like drama because they’re afraid they’ll get stuck in whatever nastiness ensues.
When you find yourself in conflict, focus on what you want to get out of it. What’s your goal? What do you want to resolve? Keep your eye on the prize, and stay focused on moving forward.
Tip#3: Avoid the word “you” unless it’s used in a positive light.
Saying “you” in the heat of conflict triggers an inflammatory response. People feel blamed and berated, and they don’t like it one bit.
Instead, frame the conversation with the word “I.” I hear you. I understand. I see we have a difference of opinion. I want you to know I want to resolve this to your satisfaction.
This keeps the other person off the defensive and out of “fight or flight” mode. It allows for a reasonable conversation and coming to a resolution.
These three tips will make a big difference, and the more you use them, the more you’re able to build rapport and trust, even with the most difficult people. The next time a conflict arises, you can build on the successful outcome you created the last time. Before you know it, that person no longer ruffles your feathers because you know how to deal with them.
Remember: The customer isn’t always right. Your boss isn’t always right. And that overbearing coworker isn’t always right.
You don’t have to let difficult people walk all over you. It’s okay to disappoint people, agree to disagree, and move on. You’ll have more respect for yourself, garner more respect, and win in the end.