Here are some quick tips that any IT architect can use when dealing with difficult people. The main point to keep in mind is to recognize their behavior and to understand it. Then discover a way to cope with it whether that involves confronting their behavior directly or learning to live it in some way. Remember there may be cultural and ethnic differences at work, which means underlying values may not be compatible. If you decide it is worth trying to change the other person’s behavior during negotiations, you need to find out how much work it will take and whether a positive result will be the outcome. Are there risks involved? You may have to accept that some people are not willing to change and if that’s the case you’ll need to concentrate on the changes you can make and just figure out steps to cope with the behavior. If you go for change remember that successful conflict resolution depends on effective communication. And this will depend on two factors – acknowledging, appreciating and productively using the differences. And you then develop a personal strategy for dealing effectively with difficult people. Here are the steps:
1. Get really clear about the behavior that bothers you and not the values that may lie behind what people are doing. Remember to concentrate on the behavior and not the person.
2. Confront the way they are behaving in a non-threatening way and stay focused on what they are doing and try to avoid attacking the person. You can do this with a simple “when you do this, I’ll feel that” type of statement.
3. You have to be willing to hear what they actually want to say. You need to use listening skills (which your coach will help you to develop) so that you can identify the facts and the feelings from other people. Remember to keep discussion as impersonal as possible and just let the other person vent. You can resolve conflict when you try to meet the needs of each party – essentially a mini-negotiation which needs to be collaborative.
4. You then need to implement the resolution and hear the keys. Separate people from the problem. Remember that the problem is the relationship and not the people themselves. Acknowledge and appreciate differences. Be flexible yourself about the other people’s viewpoints or work styles. Avoid negative labels and be flexible. Stay focused on outputs rather than positions that people take. Note that a different opinion or approach is just different and not wrong. You need to remember there are differences in thinking styles.
There are four benefits of successful conflict resolution when people are being difficult. Behavior which is seen as negative is confronted and resolved. Parties learn about other people’s needs and viewpoints and better understand the reasons why they behave that way. Problem solving skills can be improved through good coaching and you can learn to discover solutions which are creative. Finally everybody can benefit from improving their understanding and friendship with others. This will build the trust that is needed to get successful outcomes in future encounters. You encounter many people who will make it hard to use your negotiating skills, people who will take a less educated and sometimes infuriating approach to conflict. As a developing IT architect you need to develop conflict resolution and negotiating skills and a good coach will place you on the fast track so you can effectively manage difficult people and negotiate successful outcomes.