12 Dos and Don’ts For Butting Heads Successfully
Everything worth doing encounters friction.
Important issues ignite strong emotion.
12 don’ts for butting heads successfully:
- Talk over things with affirming friends who take your side rather than exploring issues.
- Rush to judgement. A mind that holds the answer is closed.
- Assume a battle posture.
- Sit at conference tables or in offices. Relaxed atmospheres lower barriers.
- Minimize the position or person on the other side of the table.
- Forget the big picture. You may become so focused that you forget the impact of your suggestions on others.
- Overreact. Choose the emotional middle.
- Over-rehearse. Canned sentences feel like manipulation.
- Hide real objectives.
- Get stuck on small insignificant issues.
- Misstate, over-generalize, or exaggerate the other person’s opinions, arguments, or desires.
- Use, “You,” aggressively. Ask, don’t tell people what they think.
12 dos for butting heads successfully:
- Prepare by exploring issues, not rehearsing sentences.
- Strengthen relationship while pushing for results.
- Define issues, problems, and challenges. It’s a waste of time to talk around what’s important.
- Describe what they want – describe what you want. Define the win.
- State and restate the arguments of others. Make people feel understood, even if you disagree.
- Know the lenses you use to evaluate people, issues, and problems. You evaluate through the eyes of your strength. What lens are others using?
- Walk slowly while you talk, if it’s a one-on-one.
- Clarify intentions, both yours and theirs. “I’m not sure what you mean by that?”
- Believe things can be better, even if not perfect.
- Quiet the tone and volume of your voice.
- Take breaks. Marathon conversations wear people down. Tired people do and say dumb things.
- Lower personal barriers, as much as possible. Embrace the strength of vulnerability.
What makes tough conversations important?
How might leaders butt head successfully?
Thank you Dan! Great, useful post. And timely, as well!
I want to expand a bit on #5, under “Don’ts” — I find that it’s common for people to underestimate their own strength, and thus come at difficult conversations with too much “fire power,” assuming that they’re the underdog. So I often counsel my clients to assume they have higher rank, and that the other has less, as a way to get them to approach the conversation with generosity instead of “girding their loins,” so to speak.
Thanks Julie. Wonderful advice.
Would someone give me an example of what (Do 2.) “Do strengthen relationships while pushing for results.) Looks like. I grab the idea but am struggling of coming up with how to apply that. What would that look or sounds like?
I think it can be taken it from the pages of “It’s Not All About Me” – Robin Dreeke
Find out their point of view and ask the why or how questions, then validate their thinking and build on it with your ideas – a “we” thing.
Thank you Leannabrooks that is very helpful.
All relationships have rough spots and difficult times. So, set the ground rules for discussing conflict in advance. This is part of my new-relationship talk, and I review it with my team from time to time.
This is great advice. A list worth turning into a check list before you go into a meeting!
Another gold mine, Dan. I particularly find your 5th DO (State and restate the arguments of others) very useful. I had the good fortune to work with a colleague who would say, “Let me test my understanding of what you just said.” He would then proceed to restate the argument as accurately as he could, while drawing a picture on the back of a piece of paper. The combination of the verbal and pictorial really helped the entire group to cement understanding.
Appears like the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. Begin with the end in mind. Think Win-Win. Seek First to Understand then be understood. To do these things first will strengthen the relationships and the “open” both minds!!
Terrific post! This list is a useful tool and should be referenced when dealing with these situations (instead of letting emotions take control).
Really impressive and to the point…thank you Dan!
I believe tough conversations are important for both parties and all parties involved to enhance relationships, specify clearly what expectations are and communication must be honest. As you say try to show vulnerabilities.
Excellent list! I particularly like #7 from Don’t and #10 from Do, as they both are essentially about emotional intelligence. Our culture tends to focus on the rational side of conflict resolution, and my experience is that the emotional side is equally (if not more) important for making–or stopping–progress in conflict conversations. #7 and #10 sound like simple things, but they are not easy!