Very often we dread to meet with difficult people! Due to fears, more often than not, we experience brain freeze, inability to cope or respond spontaneously.
To avoid such responds, the best way in managing conflict is to plan ahead strategies to cope with these difficult people. Plan ahead how to respond to these people to avoid uncomfortable silent moment or any defensive behaviors.
There are the plans!
1) First understand the person that you are dealing with.
You need to do some homework to understand the type of person you are dealing with, what is the hot button, what is his style, what is his communication style, what trigger him/her, how long is his/her attention span before he/she losing it! Also find out – the success story of those who manage to deal with this person with blowing his/her switch. Learn from them.
You also need to assess how you have responded to the difficult person in the past? Did you lose your cool? Did you shout? Did you quietly withdraw? Did you throw your temper which makes the matter worst? The next time you meet up, be prepared to avoid all these negatives responses.
2) Understand who is his ally
It is good to know who his ally is; the person who he/she trusted the most! To reach out to this difficult person, you may need to leverage his/her close ally. If you can have get his/her ally to your side and to be your character witness or sell your ideas, you are halfway there! The powerful influence of the inner circle, usually the person will listen to his/her ally’s view.
Also, from the close ally, you can get valuable information on how to approach this person, what are his/her favorite topics, what makes this person relax etc.
3) Remove your fear and biasness
The 1st step in managing conflict, is removing your own fear and biasness! Your fear will be a personal hindrance for an effective communication with this person. Leave your personal bias at home, so to speak! Don’t bring it to the table.
4) Prepare a plan
Armed with this invaluable information, formulate the best "approach" plan and "respond" plan and also "backup" plan. Then practice practice practice on various responses that you might get! You can review your plan with an objective plan.
Plan and carefully strategize a plan to approach this person at his relax spot/moment/ambience, approach the subject gently, cater your communication style to suit this person’s need.
If this person still reacts negatively, go through your carefully designed “respond” plan. Do not retaliate, that’ll make matter worst. Keep your focus on your objectives. If you are angry, take a deep breath! If the situation is so hostile, you can’t proceed with the discussion, back off and prepare for a "backup" plan. Get his/her commitment for another meeting before ending the meeting. Bringing along his/her ally as intermediary may be a good plan.
Preparing ahead makes you less nervous and helping you to cope with the difficult person and control your responses and emotion more. The more you practice, the better you are. Managing conflict is to learn to plan ahead; it will help you make your coping strategies more effective.