Dealing With Difficult People

by Dr. Juan Diaz-Prinz

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    00:01 Welcome to difficult people and how to work with them.

    00:06 I've said before that people are not the problem problems are the problem.

    00:11 Nevertheless quite often, we encounter people who are not interested in an interest-based negotiations and are not interested in having a calm orderly specially designed process.

    00:24 They're agitated or angry and you don't know how to deal with them.

    00:28 In this lecture, you will learn to identify first of all a conflict spiral.

    00:34 Second of all you'll be able to develop strategies to get out of the conflict spiral.

    00:40 And thirdly you'll be able to shift from confrontational negotiations to cooperative negotiating scenarios.

    00:48 Now, you might be wondering at this point.

    00:50 What is a conflict spiral? Well, actually it's feeling that you're kind of going like this and every single time.

    01:00 You meet this person you exactly at the same place you started.

    01:05 It's actually a cycle of actions and reactions.

    01:09 It's like almost like playing ping-pong, each reaction though is a little more in test and the swing is a little harder.

    01:16 Each retaliation is a new reason why we are in the conflict.

    01:22 Each side starts to have a longer list of problems they want to solve.

    01:28 There is a feeling of a growing crisis.

    01:31 Now while this is called the conflict spiral, it's going up in terms of let's say escalation and aggression, but it's also going down in terms of friendship and trust.

    01:45 Let's have a look a little bit at the conflict spiral in detail.

    01:50 Usually what happens is two people are talking to each other and a disagreement shows up.

    01:57 They have a few words, they disagree, each goes their own way, and every time they meet the disagreement gets a little stronger until one day.

    02:09 One side decides to take the matter into their own hands and solve the problem by using force.

    02:16 I will make them see my point.

    02:20 The reaction is swift make no doubt about it shock, denial, outrage.

    02:26 It goes something like this, huh? What just happened? No.

    02:35 He didn't just do that.

    02:37 How dare he I'm going to get him back.

    02:41 At this point the parties disengage, they don't want to talk to each other anymore.

    02:46 They actually go like little children and find friends that are stronger to try to force the other side.

    02:54 It's the disengagement phase, and the support building phase.

    02:59 This becomes a cycle of action and reaction until both sides reach what we call the hurting stalemate.

    03:08 Neither side can move in any direction of force the other side at all.

    03:15 And this could look a little bit like a plateau, nothing is moving.

    03:20 Or it can feel a little bit like a series of crisis and actions that are small but are never significant enough to make a substantial difference.

    03:34 Now the question is, how do we get out of that? I'm going to ask you to do one thing if you seen the other lectures, you will know that I have mentioned the negotiation triangle.

    03:45 If this is your first lecture, I'm going to ask you to think in terms of three sides to think about.

    03:51 Let's have a closer at the people problem process.

    03:55 People is the negotiation climate escalating because there's a problem in the relationship.

    04:03 For example, two people meet for negotiation.

    04:06 They have different levels of authority.

    04:08 They have a history of negotiations.

    04:12 These are people conflicts, human conflicts, based on perceptions and assumptions about the human experience.

    04:21 Second you have actual conflict spirals over problems are people frustrated at the limited availability of options.

    04:31 Two people meet and the offers made are clearly one-sided and maybe even the overall value of the offer being made is less than what has been discussed in person the previous round.

    04:46 Or from the process perspective, is the process of actually creating more conflict.

    04:52 Two people meet and there are too many people in the room with no purpose.

    04:58 What we want to do is to go from escalation to smart agreements.

    05:05 This is about providing quality of relationships the way to deescalate a conflict is by first of all acknowledging that you're in the conflict spiral.

    05:16 First up say that, hey, wait a minute.

    05:17 I see we've been here before.

    05:20 I think we need to do something about it that is stage 2 taking responsibility for yourself to get out of the conflict spiral.

    05:32 Once you've understood that only you can get yourself out of the conflict spiral then you need to find a way to invite the other side.

    05:40 To come together and figure out why you're in a conflict spiral that's easier said than done.

    05:48 Most people don't want to come to the table.

    05:51 So you might make a gesture a symbolic gesture which has low value or low cost to you but high value to the other side.

    06:02 Once you've come together you've entered into the sharing stage.

    06:07 What happened? How did I feel everything single time we met? And the conflict spiral escalated.

    06:15 Once you've done some sharing you want to focus on building some trust to be able to re-engage in a negotiation.

    06:24 After you've started to re-engage and you've built what we call transactional trust.

    06:30 That means that you've met a few times and you can start to understand that it's not going to hurt the relationship or the negotiation you can re-engage in the substance in through problem solving.

    06:43 The ultimate goal of a negotiation is problem solving.

    06:49 You want to reach smart agreements.

    06:51 Imagine that you have a conflict between a diversity manager in your company and maybe the department head who does not want to integrate diversity management policies because it might impact their budget.

    07:06 Smart agreements are: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Timely you cannot just say, we agree, the department will support diversity management policies.

    07:21 This will bring you right back to the conflict spiral.

    07:25 What you might want to do is to sit down and negotiate a smart statement that says, the department will dedicate 10% not 20, not 30, not 40 of its budget, to inclusion and diversity management projects.

    07:42 Limited in scope, but measurable.

    07:45 An action plan will be submitted at the next board meeting by the newly-appointed diversity manager.

    07:54 When you can see from this statement is that it's very specific who is doing what, how much it can be measured.

    08:03 It is achievable.

    08:05 It is relevant to the organization and it's very timely with the next board meeting.

    08:13 Now I know what you're thinking, you thinking, you have tried that before and it didn't work.

    08:20 What if they don't want to play the game of problem solving we've all been there and we've all been frustrated.

    08:27 We have all tried to implement integrative or interest-based negotiation strategies and it didn't work and we don't know what to do about it.

    08:37 Well, I would like to give you a sequential step-by-step approach that will help you to deal with difficult people.

    08:46 The first thing you want to do is step out of the way.

    08:49 You want to put yourself in their shoes.

    08:51 Then you want to change the game and you want to help them to see the benefits of cooperation and you want to help them assess the consequences of non agreement.

    09:01 And finally you want to find support for the process.

    09:06 Let me remind you.

    09:07 This is a sequential step-by-step approach.

    09:11 Let's have a look at it.

    09:13 Number 1, step out of their way.

    09:16 You don't want to be in front of a person who's yelling at you.

    09:21 Why? It's going to make you want to strike back.

    09:25 It's going to make you want to give in or you're just going to walk away.

    09:31 The guy says I'll get you back and is negotiating partner says, you know what? I don't need this.

    09:39 I'm leaving.

    09:41 What good does that do to you? At the end, when you go back to your office, your boss will say, by the way you need to go back and you need to find a solution.

    09:51 Striking back, giving in, or breaking off are never your response of first choice.

    10:00 Number two, you want to put yourself in their shoes.

    10:04 Have you ever heard of that expression? It's about walking the talk, understanding what other people are going through.

    10:11 It doesn't mean you have to agree with them, but people want to be heard they want to be understood even when they have to make big confessions.

    10:21 Deep listening and understanding what help you in this situation.

    10:25 You don't want to try to argue or reason with unreceptive people.

    10:30 What you want to do is to find commonality in the challenges that you both face.

    10:37 Number 3, you want to do what we call change the game from ME and YOU to WE.

    10:45 Focus on interest not positions, who cares if they made high demands, things that you will never accept, focus on why they want these things.

    10:55 Talk about some guidelines some rules in the negotiation that will prevent us from making inflammatory statements identify clear process goals and procedures and reframe everything from my problem and your problem to our problem.

    11:14 Resist the temptation to engage in positional warfare.

    11:19 Sometimes you're going to have to do a couple of things like exposing tricks, but don't forget to do it gently, and you can do that by engaging as I said before in deep listening.

    11:33 Number four, help them to see the benefits of cooperation.

    11:37 How can we meet unfulfilled interest? How can we cooperate and generate support? What ideas can be built on? What intangible issues need to be addressed.

    11:51 Imagine two CEOs meet one company is buying the other, we don't want the one who's being bought out to feel like a loser in the negotiation even if their company is being bought out.

    12:05 We want to find face-saving ways for people to end the negotiation.

    12:11 And how do you do that? By finding out what is low cost and high benefit to the other side and what can be done to ensure ratification of the agreement from the supporters.

    12:23 Number five, identify jointly consequences that might happen if you don't negotiate.

    12:31 Now let me remind you, this is the power to educate not destroy the other side.

    12:37 A joint assessment of the cost and the benefits will help everyone understand what is at stake.

    12:44 Ask what will happen, if agreement is not reach.

    12:47 You can even raise the question of the best alternative to a negotiated agreement for all sides.

    12:55 Sometimes helping people to understand consequences mean that you need to prepare for the negotiations ending.

    13:03 That is not a threat.

    13:04 That is just making sure you're taking care of yourself.

    13:08 Finally, you want to find support for the process what I mean by support is external support.

    13:14 Bring an expert's other interested stakeholders.

    13:18 Look at your network and see who in your network might be willing to help find a comprehensive agreement.

    13:25 Reach out to legitimate supporters on the other side.

    13:29 Involve higher levels if they are multiple supervisory levels and think about involving a third party facilitator if and when it's needed.

    13:38 In the end, you might also discuss other third-party formats such as mediation or arbitration.

    13:46 In conclusion, I hope you now are able to identify a conflict spiral you are able to develop strategies to get out of the comfort spiral and thirdly you're able to shift in a situation of confrontation to a situation of cooperative negotiations.

    14:04 Finally, I'd like to say that it's important to remember that people are not the problems, issues are.

    14:12 Everyone wants to be successful.

    14:15 Everyone wants to achieve the maximum results for their side.

    14:20 Often, we are clouded by are misperceptions and assumptions about why things happen in a negotiation.

    14:28 If we focus on joint collaboration where possible and professional strategies in distributive negotiations you will be able to see how to deal with difficult people by stepping to their side changing the game, engaging an interest-based negotiations, and creatively finding support for the negotiations.

    14:49 I wish you success in dealing with the next time you meet a difficult person.

    14:54 Thank you.

    About the Lecture

    The lecture Dealing With Difficult People by Dr. Juan Diaz-Prinz is from the course Negotiation Skills & Strategies (EN). It contains the following chapters:

    • Working With Difficult People
    • Conflict Escalation
    • From Escalation to SMART Agreements
    • How to Work With Difficult People

    Included Quiz Questions

    1. A cycle of actions and reaction.
    2. Each reaction is a reason to stay in the conflict.
    3. Reoccurring conflict in which the relationship deteriorates.
    4. A circular argument.
    5. A well rounded conflict.
    1. Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Timely
    2. Super, Marvellous, Awesome, Real, True
    3. Simple, Minimal, Able, Round, Tried
    4. An agreement that balances concessions.
    5. Carefully worded agreements.
    1. Change the game on them.
    2. Assess with them consequence of non-agreement.
    3. Help them see the benefit of cooperation.
    4. Challenge them.
    5. Give them evidence they will lose.
    1. Reframe from you and me to we?
    2. Focus on interests not positions
    3. Talk about rules and guidelines to negotiation.
    4. Make them weak.
    5. Bring in your allies
    1. Meet unfulfilled interests.
    2. Build on ideas of the other side
    3. Create low cost high value options.
    4. Steal the ideas of the other side.
    5. Show them what they will lose.
    1. Assess BATNA
    2. Joint assessment of cost and benefits
    3. Ask them what they will do if negotiations collapse
    4. Give them an example of their consequences
    5. Show them your power

    Author of lecture Dealing With Difficult People

    Dr. Juan Diaz-Prinz

    Dr. Juan Diaz-Prinz

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