What new research and expert advice can we use to better deal with difficult people?
The Feedback Sandwich Doesn’t Work — This Does
Nobody likes delivering bad news. Stanford’s Jeffrey Pfeffer recommends having someone else do it whenever possible.
But what about when it’s unavoidable? Don’t do the old “feedback sandwich” of positive comment, negative comment, positive comment.
Research shows it’s better to be briefly negative and then offer an extended list of positives.
(More on effectively giving feedback — from the guys at Pixar – here.)
How To Respond To Impossible Questions
“Which dress should I wear tonight?”
“What did you think of my violin solo?”
“Does this make me look fat?”
“Do you like the present that I gave you?”
(More secrets to clicking with people here. )
How To Go On The Offensive — Without Being Offensive
You want to get them on your side to avoid conflict. But how?
Repeated studies show that flattery works.
But avoid “fixed-mindset” praise; if you tell people their success is inevitable because of innate qualities it can be devastating when things don’t work out.
People like others who they feel are “on their team” or who “do something just for them.”
When dealing with hostile or belligerent people, you can leverage this to make them feel closer to you.
(More on effective influence methods from persuasion guru Robert Cialdinihere.)
When You Are Forced To Argue
They won’t let it go. How can you deescalate without disengaging?
As always, the key is listening. And good listening means the other person knows you listened.
Here’s a great four step process for arguing — with minimal breaking of furniture.
(More on how to win every argument here.)
A Final Thought
Remember that the key is never what you said, it’s what they heard.
And if you want to make things better, ignore what they said and focus on what they meant.
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This piece originally appeared on Barking Up the Wrong Tree.