Wednesday, 15 November 2017

Conflict Resolution When No One Wants to Budge

Let’s face it, there are people who just rub us up the wrong way. And there are people who we rub up the wrong way. There’s an uneasiness between us, a mistrusting, and unless we are careful, it’s easy to get into seemingly intractable conflict with those who grate on us (and vice versa).

Yet even within the category of conflict triggers there’s one that I think tops the list and that’s when our view of the world is different from someone else’s.

Naturally, everyone and I mean everyone, sees the world differently from everyone else, and yet in many if not most cases our differences aren’t so great that we can’t get along.  Indeed, when the differences aren’t so obvious, we tend to focus on common ground and where we are similar. It’s how we can rub along with someone we may not fully agree with.  We’re more able and willing to resolve differences rather than fight over them.

Yet, when our world views are really different, therein lies the source of a lot of conflict.  Other people’s behaviour can not only seem puzzling, it can seem downright bizarre, confusing, incomprehensible and most importantly... WRONG!

What happens, of course, is that because my view if the world is ‘right’ and someone else’s view is ‘wrong’, and in turn, they think their view of the world is ‘right’ and mine is ‘wrong’, the chances of ever resolving our differences is pretty slim.

Changing the Status Quo

Something has to shift. Dare I use the word compromise?

The problem with a lot of conflict situations such as these is that compromise can feel like giving in, admitting you were wrong, having to eat humble pie, etc. None of these feelings are particularly pleasant and it feels easier sometimes to take an ‘uncompromising’ stance and sticking with it through thick and thin.

What if compromise wasn’t about giving in or admitting you were wrong? What if compromise was about trying to see things from the other person’s point of view even for a brief while?

I can just see some people harrumphing with their arms crossed that they don’t want to see it from another point of view because they KNOW they’re right. 

I really do know how tricky it can be to see the other person as anything but difficult when you are in the middle of a conflict with them. The great skill here is to be able to put your thoughts and feelings to one side, even for the shortest amount of time in order to try to see the world the way they do. 

Resolving Conflict

How do you see the other person as anything but difficult then?

There are two things you can focus on if you want to resolve conflict:

1) You have to want to resolve it
2) You have to dip into your empathy well

There’s no point trying to resolve conflict if you are just giving lip service to wanting to resolve it. If, however, you do want to then it means you are well on your way to finding a way to see the situation from ‘their’ point of view.

Not only that, if you genuinely want resolution then the impetus has to come from you.  Your goal is to help the other person shift from their entrenched position rather than standing your ground and waiting for them to make the first move.

If you couple that with empathy for what might be going on for the other person you are also in a much better position to build a bridge between you.

Using empathy to bridge-build means looking for something – anything – in their argument you can agree with, where you can see they have made a valid point. You don’t have to agree with everything they are saying, just one thing. It doesn’t even have to be the main crux of their argument; it’s surprising how agreeing with even the smallest thing can calm someone down and get them to a place where they can enter into a conversation with you.

Here are your four steps to building a bridge:

1) Find something to agree with
2) Agree with it
3) Zip your lip and give the other person enough space to speak
4) Avoid coming back with a counter-argument (e.g. sentences that begin with ‘but’, ‘however’, etc.) and respond with empathy, even if it’s for the strength of their feelings

If a conversation doesn’t begin to emerge, start the process over again. Agreement is a very powerful tool because it lets the other person know you have heard them. Empathy also lets the other person know you care about resolving the difficulties between you.

There are some conflicts that just don’t get resolved; what I like about this technique is that at least you know you’ll have tried something different in order to get a difference, and hopefully better results.

Thursday, 9 November 2017

Conflict at Christmas

There, I said it, the C word. Christmas.

I had hoped to avoid even thinking about it till at least November but it is not to be.

The trigger for this blog was having a friend talk to me about how much she was dreading her company’s Christmas ‘do’ because of one particular person she continually ends up arguing with. She was already anticipating the conflict.

What Happens?

Conflict and Christmas do seem to go hand in hand. Naturally, a lot of the difficulties people have are with their own families but increasingly, the additional stresses and pressures at Christmas seem to tip people over the edge and they can be really grumpy at work, taking out their frustrations and anxieties on their colleagues.

Sound familiar?

Here’s the interesting bit….conflict at Christmas is usually because you haven’t dealt with stuff before the fateful date. Like right now, before it gets too crazy. The same goes for conflict in the workplace; the longer you delay dealing with it, the worse it’s going to be when it does finally come out into the open.

One of the main problems with conflict is what I call the ‘festering phase’. Here’s how it works: something happens that you don’t like or upsets you. You wait for an apology or some acknowledgement that there’s a problem. You don’t say anything.

But you do fester. You replay whatever it is that happened. Over and over and over again.  You think about what you did say and what you might have said. Over and over and over again. You think about what’s wrong with the other person and what they need to do to make it all all right. Over and over and over again.

The ‘festering phase’ can last anywhere from a couple of minutes to the rest of your life.

What I’m interested in is what happens in the lead up to the conflict. If that can change then you don’t have to enter a ‘festering phase’ – you might even be able to head towards a ‘resolution phase’. But I’m getting ahead of myself.

Why It Happens.

In our vast experience of running Conflict Management and Assertiveness courses, we know that people fall into the same old patterns of behaviour they’ve always done (on both sides, mind you) so that the conflict becomes inevitable. 

Is there one person with whom you seem to engage in conflict often? Are there types of conflict situations that repeat themselves? Once you have a good beady-eyed look, you ‘should’ be able to detect patterns. It could be anything, couldn’t it? 

For instance, you say something, someone else takes offence, you try to defend yourself, the other person doesn’t want to hear your defences and you’re into conflict. 

It could be someone asks you to do something, you don’t want to, they start putting pressure on you, you push back, they push back harder and you’re into conflict.

Once you can unpick the pattern, you have an opportunity to change it.

This, of course, means that one of you will have to do something different in order to break the pattern, and guess what?  It’s going to have to be you if you want to at least kick-start a new way of communicating.


Obviously, I’d need about 10 blogs to really go into this in any detail, so I’ll give you one suggestion for now.

Mind-sets get us into trouble and they can equally help us get out of trouble, even before it begins. Like the woman I mentioned at the beginning of this blog who’s dreading her company’s Christmas ‘do’, lots of us anticipate conflict – we know it’s most likely inevitable and yet we can’t see a way of avoiding it other than avoiding the situation, which isn’t going to alter anything.

Thus a change of mind-set is needed. Think of that really difficult person or scenario. Think about what rubs you up the wrong way, what do they say or do that ‘gets your goat’? I bet that even doing that might trigger an old ‘festering phase’ as you replay old conflicts. 

Now see if you can identify that one point of conflict, what could be called the point of no return, the point at which you are both playing out the same old patterns of behaviour. Get really specific: what you were thinking, feeling and saying; what was the other person saying and how were they behaving?

Here’s where the shift in mind-set can happen – the bit right before the point of no return.  The new mind-set that says, “Walk away now.” The mind-set that says, “How can I respond differently this time?” The mind-set that says, “I don’t have to engage in any dispute with this person. So what if they rub me up the wrong way? That’s my problem, not theirs.”

Changing a mind-set rarely happens all at once. The trick is to start anticipating potential conflict not as inevitable but as a chance for you to practise new behaviour. Rather than replaying conflict after the fact with what you could have said, start practising right now what you could say differently that will change the dynamic between you.

Have a go and you just might make life at Christmas (or any time really) a lot less fraught and a lot more peaceful.

Friday, 8 September 2017

Performance Management – Who Are You Talking To?

I talked previously about Performance Management and one of the key mistakes managers make which has to do with magical thinking: No one has to actually do anything and the problems will fix themselves and melt away.

Another crucial and equally unhelpful mistake is talking to the wrong people. Just about every manager I know - including me - has been guilty at some time or another of this 'misdemeanour'. 

This is how it works. Someone on your team (let's call them Person A) does something you don't like, or is underperforming, or has rubbed you (or someone else in the team) up the wrong way. Do you then go and have a quiet word with that person to get it sorted out quickly? That would be the most logical and professional thing to do. 

Unfortunately, too often, no you don't.

Instead what happens is that you talk to Persons B, C, D and so on, till everyone in the team is talking about Person A. Everyone knows what he or she has done 'wrong'; everyone has an opinion about A (he doesn't pull his weight, she's never at her desk, he's taking the piss, she never should have been hired in the first place) and then of course the inevitable happens: everyone begins to keep an eagle eye on A in order to rack up the evidence of their 'wrongness' till the case against them is watertight.

People's emotions get all stirred up and the gossip just feeds the situation and adds fuel to the fire.

What else is going on?

1. Assumptions. So far in this scenario everything is based on assumptions. Because A hasn't ever been spoken to and yet everyone else is talking about them, A hasn’t been given a chance to explain what's going on or to hear that their behaviour is troublesome.

When I was on the receiving end of this (in other words, I was Person A) the only thing I could say at first was, "Why didn't anyone say something to me?" I felt really hard done by and felt I was treated very unfairly because I had no idea people were so upset with me. 

I then felt I had this major mountain to climb because everyone had made assumptions about my behaviour and even though I now knew what was going on, they continued to treat me as though all those assumptions were true. It was a very disheartening position to be in.

2. Emotions. In these kinds of situations emotions run high, especially when they feed on themselves instead of heading towards a resolution. However, it is usually, if not always, emotions that stop people having the quiet word with A in the first place.

What are you afraid might happen if you intervened right away? Person A might get angry, get defensive, point out things you've done wrong, cry, storm out. In other words, they might display big, potentially, overwhelming emotions that you think you can't or don't want to handle.

So you duck the issue of confrontation and off-load your frustrations and your own emotions on other people. This gives you a group of allies and because you're all colluding with the belief of how bad A is, you don't have to go inwards to investigate your own fears of having to manage other people's possible unpleasant emotions.

3.  It’s dealt with. Ironically, all that chatting to B, D, C and so on makes you feel as though you’ve dealt with it. It often comes as a shock that Person A’s behaviour continues because of course, Person A usually doesn’t have a clue all this is roiling around the office.

Part of the difficulty is that we are also dealing with human nature here. People like to gossip, they also like to have an odd man (or woman) out because it helps the rest of the tribe to bond - nothing like having a common 'enemy' to bring people together.

The baseline though is that all that babble is not only unprofessional, it is also immature and a form of passive aggressive bullying. 

If A has been spoken to and repeatedly displays behaviour that isn't right, then there is a genuine Performance Management issue that has to be dealt with.

Sadly, A is rarely spoken to and thus the cycle continues on its merry way.

What can you do about it?

I cannot stress enough about nipping things in the bud. The longer you wait to take action, the more the chances are that B, C, D and so on will be drawn into the situation without A being made aware that there's an issue.

This is a simple 'model' you can try:

You to Person A (not in front of other members of the team, it can even be via email): “When you have some time, could we have a quick word please.”

Once you are face to face: "I noticed that you've been spending a lot of time on your phone (or whatever the issue is). My assumption is that you're making a lot of personal calls on company time.  I wonder if that's true or are my assumptions wrong?"

Give the person plenty of space to respond and then tell them what you'd like to see in the future, for instance, "I think it would be best if you used your break-time to make personal calls, rather than work time, or if you need extra time, just let me know so I don't feel you're taking advantage."

Letting someone know the assumptions you have made or even what their behaviour looks like to others is a way of getting stuff on the table so it can be dealt with.

Finally, you do have to clean up after yourself. If you haven’t caught things early and have off-loaded to everyone except the person involved, once you speak to A then you really do have to talk to all those B, C, Ds and so on so they know the situation is now being handled handled. 

By Jo Ellen Grzyb. Director  and Founding Partner of Impact Factory

Monday, 10 July 2017

Performance Management: Are You Guilty of Magical Thinking?

There's a lot of magical thinking that hovers around Performance Management that even seasoned managers succumb to: that, somehow, problems with people's performance will fix themselves without anyone having to say anything to anybody.

I've heard line managers say things like, "They must know what they're doing isn't right so at some point they'll do something about it.”  or “It’s obvious there’s a problem; I’ll wait for them to bring it up.” Or “it’s not so bad; I’m sure it will come good at some point.”

The answer is “No”.  No, they won’t do anything about it; no, they won’t bring it up and no, it won’t come good at any point.

Problems don’t magically fix themselves; problems don’t just go away.  Indeed, unaddressed problems get bigger and bigger till they often escalate to a state far worse than if they had been dealt with early on.

Magical thinking like this is prevalent because it’s hard for a lot of managers to deal with things in the moment (or near enough to the moment).  Often in these situations, the manager will have an emotional reaction to whatever is going on (“Did that just happen?”) and won’t quite know what to do.  And then they delay doing anything.

Many managers fear emotional outbursts (what if the other person cries or gets angry?); they don’t want to rock the boat (things are going so well, why spoil it by bringing up a problem); they’re afraid of disagreement which could turn into conflict.

Even though we all know that ignoring problems won’t make them go away, people still do just that.

I remember working with one manager on a Performance Management course who said he intended asking for a transfer to another department because he had knots in his stomach every time he came to the office (and which he took home with him as well).  There was one member of his team in particular who caused him sleepless nights because he was sure this chap was now deliberately being difficult.

I asked him if he had had any conversations with his team member about the issues and he actually said he thought that because his colleague was clearly doing things on purpose there was no point in discussing it.

By the way, irrational thinking like this definitely falls into the magical thinking category as well.

I pointed out that it was very possible that if he transferred to another department there might be someone equally difficult there and wouldn’t it be better to upskill himself rather than transfer from department to department because he was unable to manage people’s day to day performance if there were difficulties.

Upskilling seems rather obvious but when someone is in the middle of strong emotions, anxiety and even fear, running away actually seems the more viable option.

Equally obviously, running away doesn’t necessarily change anything if the same situations arise in the place you’ve run away to.

So let’s look at what some of those skills are that can dispel magical thinking and give managers the confidence to handle day to day performance and be better able to deal with difficulties as they arise.  If you are one of those that fall into the magical thinking category, these tips are for you:

1. Look for opportunities to acknowledge and praise team members on a day to day basis; don’t just wait for the above and beyond.  By recognising the stuff that people do every day you are building trust so that if difficulties do arise, it will be easier to have the conversations.

2. Have regular feedback sessions.  Again, this creates a climate of trust because you are keeping a dialogue going about day to day things that arise.  Here you can summarise all the positive things you’ve noticed and especially any improvements since the previous feedback session.  This is also the opportunity to review any difficulties that have arisen to see how they are being dealt with.

3. Make it two-way.  Any conversation with a colleague needs to be just that – a conversation, not a lecture.  Ask open questions and listen to your team member.  Also be open to any issues he or she may have with you.

4. Nip it in the bud.  Don’t wait for your feedback sessions if something comes up that’s problematic.  The longer you wait, the more the situation will fester.  Even if you agree to discuss it in more detail during your feedback sessions, letting the other person know that there is an issue means it’s out on the table and you don’t have to carry around that extra anxiety about dealing with it.

5. Set really specific goals and parameters in order to improve performance.  Don’t leave the onus completely up to them; measureable goals do make it clear for both parties to see whether there has or has not been progress.

6. Offer support.  Alongside goals, giving support to achieve them will help both of you as you will be doing what you can to improve the situation and the other person will see that they aren’t being left to fend for themselves.

7. Accept that sometimes not all problems are ‘fixable’.  If you’ve done all the above and things haven’t improved, you may indeed have to escalate things to a formal disciplinary.  The main thing is that you will have done all you can to avoid that and to maintain healthy working relationships with all your team.

Let’s face it, most people (me included) really do wish that everyone would just get on with their jobs, get on with their colleagues, manage their emotions, deal with problems maturely and contribute to making work a lovely place to be.

That’s magical thinking in a nutshell.

Great Performance Management, however, can actually bring a little magic into the workplace.

By Jo Ellen Grzyb

Check out our Performance Management Course

Wednesday, 28 June 2017

Influencing When You Have No Authority: Tips to Making an Impact

This is a common question we get asked, “how can I possibly influence someone when I have no authority over them?”.

And our answer: the same way you would if you did have authority over them.

Really, that’s not as glib as it sounds; what we mean is that what you have to adjust is what goes on in your head because what goes on in your head will influence your body language, what you say, how you react and what your expectations are.

If you try to influence someone who is either higher up or completely unrelated to your area, department, etc., you could have the attitude that they really have no obligation to even listen to you, let alone give you what you want. Right from the off you will be expecting a no; you’ll be drenched in anticipated disappointment.

With that attitude you may come across as apologetic, diffident, possibly even slightly defensive. You won’t be able to convey your wants effectively because your approach will get in the way.

If, however, your attitude is that you have something exciting / relevant/ important / interesting / useful to discuss with them then your whole outlook and manner will be completely different.

We did some work with the marketing department of a very large global organisation a few years back and the theme we had to address in our Influencing courses was that the marketeers had virtually no authority over anyone else in the company with whom they had to negotiate to get things done or changed.

What they struggled with was that aside from benefiting the collective whole of the organisation, there wasn’t really anything in it for the people they were trying to influence.  Or so they thought.

Most delegate's aha moment came when they realised just how much their attitude 'influenced' their ability to influence. Once they saw that they could choose their attitude, then the practical tools were a piece of cake.

Once you have an attitude shift, there are so many more options available to influence where you have no direct clout.

Here are some easy, practical tips you can use to influence:

1. Think about what might make you more amenable to hearing someone out when you have no real obligation to do so. Although not applicable to everyone, a fairly reliable approach to take is to acknowledge what the other person has done that makes you want to influence them in the first place.

It isn’t about false flattery (you can try that but I’m not a great fan), it’s about genuinely recognising their talents, expertise, abilities.

2. Empathise with their position, perhaps letting them know that you assume lots of people must come to them for help or advice and you don’t want to overburden them. Personally, I’m far more likely to look favourably on someone who makes an effort to understand how busy I am than someone who just assumes my door is open 24 hours a day.

3. Make an effort to see the situation from their point of view. When we want something it’s very easy to get caught up in trying to convince the other person about what our point of view is and to keep plugging away till they ‘get’ it. A far better tactic is to put aside your perspective for a bit and look at it from their perspective, or what you think might be their perspective. You can even say something along the lines of, “I’m wondering if this might be going on for you…..” or “I’m assuming this might be happening…..I wonder if that’s the case?”

Get them talking about what’s going on for them and you will have a tonne more information than you did and you can use that information to adjust and tweak what you were going to say.

What all of this does is to help shape how others see you so that you are someone other people want to support rather than someone people duck behind desks to avoid.

By Jo Ellen Grzyb, Director of Impact Factory

Check out our Influencing and Influence and Negotiation Courses.

Wednesday, 7 June 2017

Quicker Better Meetings: Changing unproductive, unhelpful patterns

Does this scenario sound familiar?

You’re at a meeting that’s going along rather well and the agenda items are being ticked off at a satisfying rate and disagreements are ironed out with ease. It even looks as though the meeting might end early and your mind flits ahead to the extra time you’ll have to catch up on all the emails that will have come in during the meeting.

And then……a voice pipes up asking a long, convoluted question that had to do with something three agenda items ago, accompanied by lots of shuffling of papers. 

“Oh no,” you say to yourself, “here we go again.” 

By the time whoever’s chairing the meeting has figured out what the question is and attempted an answer, your dreams of an early finished are dashed and you pretend to be interested in what’s being said, which is usually a repetition of something that was said half an hour ago. You might even be discreetly trying to sneak a peek at your phone so of course your mind isn’t on the meeting at all.

And that’s just one example of what can bog down a meeting. We, all of us, will have lots of examples of what can make a meeting torturous: a chair who can’t keep order, no agenda, lots of rambling and distractions, someone trying to hijack the meeting or browbeat others, drowning in minutiae and on and on and on. 

See if you can identify what gets in the way of you having ‘quicker better meetings’. 

One of the reasons why some meetings tend to be deadly is that they fall into a pattern very quickly.  All you need is to have two meetings in a row with the same people and if no one steps in to change the dynamic, then a pattern will be set. If that pattern includes allowing people to rabbit on, to go off the agenda, to keep dragging in irrelevant issues, to complain when they don’t get their way, then your meetings will be endless with greater conflict and fewer concerns resolved.

So how do you get your meetings to become quicker and better?

Change a Pattern

Look at the patterns that are slowing down your meetings and see what you could do to shift them.

The interesting thing about changing patterns is that this can be done in ways both subtle and not so subtle depending upon how embedded the patterns are.

For instance, we worked with a company that often had contentious meetings between management and union reps. Meetings inevitably ended up as ‘them and us’ scenarios. When we started working with the union reps we asked how the meeting rooms were set up and unsurprisingly the union chaps sat on one side of the table and management on another, and thus it had always been.

We recommended that they get to the meetings ahead of time and to dot themselves around the table which would immediately break the physical representation of ‘them and us’. Once they changed the physical set-up it was almost like magic one of the reps told us, because instead of squaring up across the table, the found they were chatting to whoever was next to them which took the heat out of the situation.

That’s just one pattern that was easy to change and really was done under the radar.

Other patterns require a less subtle approach. I call these the ‘people patterns’ where individuals fall into the same behaviour every single time there’s a meeting, just like the person I mentioned at the beginning of this blog. 

As a matter of fact, that description is based on my personal experience and the frustration and impatience I felt was mirrored around the table. Since this was a group that met often, I would grit my teeth as this person asked yet another question that had already been answered ages ago. I finally came up with my personal strategy since the chair didn’t seem to know how to handle her in any effective way – as a matter of fact, he kind of treated her as though her interruption was normal which only encouraged her even more.

My tactic was first, to wait till she was seated and then to sit next to her. That way I could monitor her body language when it looked as though she was about to speak after shuffling her papers.  Second, was as soon as she asked a question that had already been dealt with I intervened in a really friendly way saying that since the question had already been covered earlier I’d be really happy to stay on after the meeting and go over it all with her. 

Over the course of a few meetings I did this about three times and I knew I had broken the pattern when instead of asking the chair a question she turned to me and whispered if I’d mind going over something after the meeting. Victory!

The reason I have used these two examples (and we have so many more tricks up our sleeves when it comes to making meetings more efficient) is that in each case something really different but not confrontational had to be done to change the dynamic. 

Here’s a couple of quick tips:

1.       Look at what you could physically do to change the layout of your meeting room or where people sit. Be the first to ‘sit on the other side of the table’. 

2.       Identify what behaviour patterns both you and other people do that slow things down. It’s easier to change your behaviour so let’s start there. You can do simple things to do with your body language which will have a subtle impact on everyone else (sitting straighter in your chair, leaning forward, ensuring you give eye contact to everyone when you speak).

In other words, if you want productive meetings you have to start to change the patterns that make them unbearable. 

Don’t wait for someone else to rescue your meetings; put on the life preserver and take the plunge!

Check out our Quicker Better Meetings Open Course.

Thursday, 1 June 2017

Negotiation: Does Compromise Get to Win-Win?

I've been thinking a lot recently about compromise when it comes to negotiation. 

In negotiation-speak the phrase 'win-win' is often used as the sought after outcome of a negotiation.  So where does compromise come into it when compromising can often feel like giving in?

Certainly, when I was much younger compromise felt like win-lose, with me on the losing side. I hated compromising because it felt as though I was conceding and the other person would be triumphant that I had ‘caved in’.

What happened to me then (and what happens to a lot of people in many kinds of negotiating arenas) is that I held on to my position because it felt like life or death (even negotiating what to do over the weekend). It’s as if compromising not only meant giving in over this one thing, but it also was an indication that I was a pushover, that everything I believed was up for grabs.

It doesn’t make any rational sense but back then, when negotiating, my rational side often disappeared and in its place, a fight to the death. I look back and cringe at some of the situations where I ‘held my ground’ because it felt as though my very being was being attacked when I differed with someone during a negotiation. I hid it very well, but inside I felt my sense of self was on the line when I compromised.

How wrong could I have been?

It wasn't till I became older (and wiser) that I began looking on compromise not only as a terrific bargaining chip but also as the manifestation of empathy.  The more I empathised with the other 'side', the more I was able to see his or her point of view; the more I was able to see the other point of view, the more I was able to understand what would help them feel heard and acknowledged.

The more the other person felt heard and acknowledged, the more they would be willing to meet half-way. Conceding was no longer about losing but far more about bridge-building. 
I was no longer buffeted by irrational beliefs but liberated because I became a much better negotiator the more I was willing to give stuff away. 

Negotiating isn’t about getting my own way, but is about building relationships so that everyone feels good about the interaction.

This shift in attitude really does make life easier. I go into negotiations with a much lighter heart, no longer feeling threatened or attacked if what I think I want isn’t going to happen. I’ve talked about this before in previous negotiation blogs about changing my want. So instead of hanging onto what I thought was my bottom line and focusing all my attention on getting it, I now am willing to change what I want often to something intangible like both of us just feeling like we had a good conversation and not necessarily arriving at a conclusion.

Compromising means it all doesn’t have to happen right now just the way I pictured it. I can change the picture if it means I don’t have to get into a fight. 

Let me take up the image of bridge-building. Bridge-building is about making an offer rather than demanding a concession from the other person. I’ve used this analogy before but it bears repeating:  if I put a plank down or even two or three planks, then the other person inevitably will put a plank down and this can carry on till you meet in the middle of the bridge and both still feel good about carrying on communicating.

Each time you consciously and deliberately compromise you are laying down a plank and the more planks you put in place, the easier it is for the other person to offer a plank and to make the bridge stronger.

Think of compromise as an art, a skill, a tool, rather than something that takes an emotional toll (as I used to think and feel) – it’s a much easier way to get to win-win.

Check out Impact Factory’s range of One Day Negotiation Skills and Two Day Influencing & Negotiation Skills courses.