A question I am frequently asked in my workshops is how to achieve an attitude of resolution where people have dug in their heels, or they have a difficult personality, or they have more power in the situation than you have. This is a subject many people find challenging and frustrating. There are no easy answers, and sometimes people won’t budge, but here are the suggestions that have worked for me:
- Honor their position and their personality and make friends with them. Fighting and resisting will get you nowhere. When you push against a force, it will push back against you with greater intensity. Better to be empathetic and gain an understanding of where they are coming from and how they got to that place. Once you understand them, you can form a strategy to get them to the table.
- Show them the cost of the current situation and the ongoing cost of no resolution. Use the cost of conflict analysis in Chapter 2 to demonstrate the ongoing enormous loss they are suffering.
- Show them the potential benefit of the creative solution you have in mind. Let them see what they stand to gain and demonstrate your awareness of their concerns.
- Have the resolution show up as their idea. People sometimes resist an idea that is not theirs. If you lead them to where the idea becomes theirs, they buy in more easily. You can do this by asking questions.
- Appeal to a higher authority. Is there someone with more influence than you to whom the resistant party will listen and honor, such as a boss, public official, legal provision, moral authority, or the like? You don’t get a prize for doing it by yourself.
- Ask yourself about whether you are seeing the situation from their perspective. In other words, are you out of line, and is their unreasonableness justified?
Don’t give up, no matter what. The only way you get to resolution is by taking the journey. Remember, sometimes the hardest part is getting them to the table. That said, there are times when cutting your losses is the best strategy. Where is the edge you might ask. Experience will tell you and if you are smart and have enough experience you’ll know.