Do not ignore the emotions while focusing on the problems. You need to defuse them, and you do it by surprise.
If they stonewall, they expect pressure from you.
If they attack, they expect resistance.
Step to their side by:
- Acknowledging their point, feelings, competence, status
- Agreeing wherever you can.
When the other side is stating their position, stop thinking about your own.
Give The Other Side a Hearing
One tactic: “I’m interested in your statement X. Tell me more.”
Don’t interrupt. Maintain eye contact. When they wind down, ask if there is anything more.
Paraphrase and Ask For Corrections
State it from their point of view. Do not include your perspective. Do not correct them.
Acknowledge Their Point
After listening, acknowledge their point. This does not mean you agree with it. It is essentially saying “I can see your perspective.” Stuff like “You have a point there.”
Tactic: “If I were in your shoes, I may see it that way.”
Acknowledge The Feelings
Employee is upset he is being paid less than a colleague. He threatens to quit. You may have a very good reason, but don’t begin by explaining it. Say “You think I’m taking advantage of you. That’s understandable.”
Be sincere in this! They can tell if you are not.
Offer An Apology
It can go a long way. Apologize for your share of the problem, even if you think it is mostly the other person’s fault.
The apology need not be meek.
Project confidence as you acknowledge them. It will not be construed as a sign of weakness. Make eye contact. Use their name. Sit straight. Don’t show fear. Fear can aggravate. Fearlessness disarms.
Agree Wherever You Can
Agree Without Conceding
You don’t need to concede. Look for any opportunity to agree.
“Yes” is very powerful in disarming. Look for any place to say “Yes, you have a point.” Or “Yes, I agree.”
Likewise, try to get as many yeses as possible from the other party. When they criticize, rephrase with “Are you saying…?” Their saying “Yes” changes the mood. Each “yes” reduces the tension.
Even if you agree with nothing, you can get a lot of “yeses” this way.
Tune In To Their Wavelength
Match their communication style (e.g. lean forward, speak softly, etc). Formal vs informal. If their language is “Can’t you see…” then use visual language (“focus”). If it is about “listen”, say stuff like “I hear you…”
Acknowledge The Person
Acknowledge the person, not his behavior.
Build a Working Relationship
Meet for lunch. Small talk before/after negotiation. They will be more inclined to give you the benefit of the doubt.
If there is a person you will often be in conflict with (e.g. due to a job role), work hard to build their relationship first.
Express Your Views - Without Provoking
“Either you’re right or I’m right” vs “Both of us are right and…” (can be right about different issues).
“I can see why you feel that way given your experiences. Mine, however, are different…”
No “But” Say “Yes, and…”
Don’t disagree with “But”. Say “Yes, I can see … and …”.
I vs You Statements
Convert “you” statements to “I”.
“You broke your promise” vs “I felt let down”. Focus on how you were impacted. It does not challenge the other person.
Stand Up For Yourself
Acknowledge their perspective, but don’t diminish your own.
Acknowledge Your Differences With Optimism
Be bold in being optimistic about the differences. Having differences is not a problem in and of itself.