By Ann Lukens

How do we manage those tricky moments with colleagues, staff and clients, when the conversation isn’t working… when behaviours or approaches are making progress difficult? We’ve always had clients and training participants asking – ‘but how do I deal with those difficult people’?

It is important to address the difficult bits with empathy but also to challenge them.

As ICA:UK associates and conflict practitioners, we believe that it is important to address the difficult bits with empathy and also sometimes to challenge them to ensure we all can move forward….Here are five tips distilled from over 20 years of facilitating and training with ICA and working in conflict..

1. It’s not the person it’s the behaviour – identify specifically what it is the person is DOING that is tricky – what do you need them to change in order for things to proceed more smoothly?

2. What is the behaviour triggering for YOU – as a facilitator, you need to know your own triggers and hot spots. Is this behaviour stopping progress or just irritating YOU? Address the behaviours that really aren’t working with others and address your own reactions by getting to know what works!

3. Assume difficult behaviours may come from someone’s unmet needs – the need to be heard, the passion for the subject, the fear of change, the desire to be important in the group – understanding where the behaviour comes from can help find a way to change it to a positive

4. What do you want to achieve by addressing the behaviour? – getting the person to stop may simply be closing them down – what do you want instead? So… you may know what you want to eliminate – but think long and hard about the alternatives – what will work – what would be more helpful? That will help your participant to stay part of it and shift their approach

5. Finally, be really clear in your feedback – with ICA’s ORID as an underpinning framework, you can clearly define what’s not working, the impact, your understanding of why things are happening, and some ways forward…

How can we help ?

Sign up for ICA’s Transforming Difficult Conversations course. This course has been delivered for 20 years, and we are now taking it online! Learn how to successfully tackle and transform difficult conversations with both groups and individuals. Our first online offer begins in July.  It includes four interactive sessions, lots of tools and methods to try, and 3 additional ‘surgery’ sessions to drop into over the next few months to share your successes and your questions…

For more information contact ann.lukens@gmail.com. Need some mediation or conflict coaching support to get through some sticky issues?  Contact Ann for support – which could include an in-house course or even mediation or a conflict facilitation process.