|Dealing With Difficult People - Part 2|
|Written by Olivia Fox Cabane|
|Wednesday, 24 February 2010 14:03|
During the conversation, be aware that difficult interactions generally have three levels of conversation happening simultaneously:
- The facts level (what you’re talking about)
- The feelings level (how you & they feel about this) Make sure you don’t invalidate their feelings. No matter how right or wrong they may be about the facts, what they’re feeling IS what they’re feeling.
- The identity level (the way this interaction is going– how is that affecting how I feel about myself? How I see myself?) This identity level is the most crucial one.
The intricacies of these three levels, and how to handle each one, were brilliantly described in “Difficult Conversations“, the outcome of the Harvard Negotiation Project. It’s truly the best toolkit I’ve ever seen on the subject; and highly recommended before any difficult interaction.
Difficult people often have fragile egos; that’s why they get so defensive in the first place. The first step in defusing their defensiveness is to make them feel heard, validated, and reassured. Let’s start with feeling truly heard. This requires that you be fully present.
If you’re not fully present, your facial reactions may be a split-second delayed. And people will read that, because people read your facial expressions in a flash—as fast as 17 milliseconds. And the effect of delayed facial expressions is that you can come across as inauthentic. If that happens, you can imagine the consequences: there’s no way you can generate trust, rapport or loyalty. Have you ever talking with someone you feel was being inauthentic? You know how that feels.
Anytime part of your mind is busy thinking; preparing your next sentence, or finding something wrong with either them or anythign in the situation— that the interaction is not going the way you’d like, or that you’re not feeling the way you’d like– anytime part of your mind is engaged struggling against something; then by definition, your whole mind is not fully present, and it’ll show.