Are you caught up in a troubling situation or a tiresome collaboration? Not to worry, you can turn the tide. At least if you use the right de-escalation techniques. They needn’t be complicated. These 10 best practices will do the trick.
As soon as irritation kicks in we generaly react in one of these natural ways:
Beat back – this is precisely when a disagreement escalates into a conflict.
Give in – this might save the (business) relationship but in most cases it does not meet your interests.
End the collaboration – this should be a last resort as a breach alomost always has (financial) consequences.
Whatever automatic reaction you or I give in to, none of it serves our interests well.
Here are ten proven techniques to reduce friction and tension while keeping your eyes on your interests too.
- Avoid coalitions or choose them wisely.
Coalitions enforce onesided opinions and will alienate you. Avoid the existing coalitions or make sure you build them across parties.
- Be clear about what to expect from eachother.
- Keep your head down until the storm is over.
When someone is really angry, the worst strategy is to defend yourself. You’ll only pick a fight. If you manage to listen instead and even ask questions, the storm will blow over.
- Shine a light on dirty tricks.
Someone you’re doing business with may pressure you by calling on non existing deadlines, using bluff or hidden agenda’s. If you realise that you are being manipulated, make clear that it has no effect on you. It will make the other person refrain from using these tricks with you in the future.
- Inform the other side about your position and about your interests.
If you don’t, the collaboration can never be succesful.
- Explain intentions and resources.
If everyone is clear on their intentions and their resources neither one of you will lose time and energy.
- Express whatever is working for you.
It is important to be clear about things that are not working for you, but doing so will prove easier if you also compliment whenever you are pleased with certain services or outcomes.
- Bring the heat down.
Whenever budgets are tight or time is limited and stakes are high people stop being effective. That goes for you aswell as for the other side. In these situations call on a coffee break whenever you can and make sure people actually leave the room for a couple of minutes. You can simply state that you need a break or you can say that you want to call someone on your end before making a decision. Equally effective is postponing an answer or e-mail until the next day.
- Recognise the position of the other person.
Recognising that a situation is stressful, not only for you, but also for others involved, will earn you goodwill without giving in on your position.
- Speak your mind but always remain respectful.
Tact is the ability to tell someone to go to hell in such a way that they look forward to the trip (W. Churchill).
These ten interventions are highly effective to reduce friction and restore difficult conversations or collaborations. In fact they all boil down to biting your tongue and doing what’s effective instead.
And since we are alle human and all have expectations, hopes, allergies and pride their effectivity is not limited to the business situation. So do feel free to try these at home.