Conflicts arise, and how we address them is a choice. All too frequently, if we don’t treat others the way they want to be treated (the Platinum Rule) then conflict resolution may leave behind lingering resentment and reduced trust.
You can actually increase trust, referability, and deepen relationship by using behavioral styles when working to resolve an unhappy situation.
When we understand the pace, style of directness, and language that a person is wired to use, it is much easier to deal with conflict by adapting to their style. The real danger is misunderstanding them. By assuming that they are wired the same as us, we will often make a bad situation far worse and may even end a relationship with drama and hard feelings.
In any conflict, there is already stress on both sides, and more stress results from confrontation. When stressed, people will more readily revert to their natural behavioral style and work against other styles.
So how can we do better? If you know the style of the person you need to confront, then I suggest preparing ahead with what you will say. Consider the pace you will use, and the words you might say in order to make them as comfortable as possible. They will then be more amenable more amenable to seeing your position and solutions can be achieved.
Remember, each behavioral style has a different set of strengths, areas to improve,, and motivations. If you aren’t sure of the style, start with their pace, which will either be direct (faster) or indirect (more moderate.) With direct people, be direct and avoid getting bogged down in detail. For indirect people who need more space, give them time to think and respond.
If you know their specific style, then you will know how to adapt more fully.
Here’s some suggestions on how to work with each style. The scenario is that you have given a person a really good referral. Unfortunately, when you followed up with the prospect, the prospect told you that contact has not been made and they are about to find someone else. You would like to resolve the situation ideally by getting the referral to a close, and at least ending the conflict amicably (maybe it wasn’t the right referral.)
Go Getters (Dominant, drivers)
Go-getters are direct. They are fine with confrontation and they do not fear difficult conversations. Go Getters greatly prefer bringing conflicts out into the open and you will do better to avoid waiting too long to address a conflict.
Task-oriented and fast moving when focused, Go Getters sometimes come across as intimidating. This is just directness. It is also very, very important that you avoid using the word “Wrong.” While direct, they also like to look good and they go to some lengths to avoid exposing their flaws. Using the “W” word hits too close to home and it will shut down any chance of resolution in that conversation.
Here is how I would address this problem with a Go-Getter. This is best done with strong eye contact and without hesitation. For those of us who are indirect, practice in front of a mirror.
“[Name], do you remember that referral that I sent you last month? I talked to the prospect last week, and they said they have not heard from you. If it’s not a good referral, I will send them to someone else. If you want it, when will you contact them?”
You’ll notice that I don’t accuse. I don’t use fluff. I direct them to take on the task of making contact. One great thing about go-getters and conflict is that they don’t hold grudges. If there is a mistake, acknowledge it, fix it, and move on.
Promoters want to be liked. A feeling of rejection is intolerable to them, so it’s important to get to the root of a conflict rather than cut them off. Start with a positive approach. Feed them compliments, tell anecdotes, remain friendly, and even use humor. You’ll step up the pace and use some eye contact (softer, but still direct). Most of all, smile!
“Hi [name]! You know, I love working and hanging out with you. Remember that time we did such and such? Hey, so listen, I gave a pretty awesome referral to you last month. The prospect was really hot to talk to you. I talked to him last week, and he said he hasn’t heard from you. Do you still want to work with him? Was it a good referral for you?
Yeah? Cool! Would it help for me to remind you tomorrow? Fantastic!”
I use uplifting words here, and I make it seem like a positive thing all around. There’s no need for excuses or common ground here. Be direct. Notice that I also offer to follow up. That makes it easier for them. In a real referral situation, it’s actually best to bring the promoter together with the prospect in person or even by phone. They love meeting new people.
Nurturers (Steady, amiable)
Nurturers value harmony and peacemaking. They are usually tuned into a conflict, or quickly become tuned in. They will want to quickly find common ground, so start with agreement, especially around their personal values (such as family, or community). Avoid confronting them directly, and definitely avoid accusations. They will keep the peace by agreeing with you, and then avoid taking further action because it’s not right for them.
Slow your pace, a warm smile is ok, and (go-getters) avoid staring. Looking away every few seconds will lessen any feeling of intimidation.
“Hi [name]. How are you? What’s going on for you? I’m doing well. We have just been on a trip/new family/big plans/etc.. Listen, I don’t want to take too much of your time (“that’s ok”), I just wanted to talk to you about a referral that I gave you last month. I was talking to the prospect, and he said he hasn’t heard from you. I was thinking maybe I didn’t give you enough information or maybe it wasn’t a good fit. Do you still want to talk to him? If not, that’s perfectly ok because it’s got to be right for everyone. By the way, I know you love skiing, and so does he. Maybe you two can talk about that.”
Yeah? Ok, what do you need to know from me to help make the connection happen?”
You’ll note that I started with the truly important things, which aren’t business tasks. I offered to not take a lot of time. Nurturers value time, but they also value choice. I find a common ground by suggesting that maybe there was a miscommunication. I give them an opt-out, no hard feelings, and then offer to provide further detail if they want to continue. One thing I might do is provide some personal information about the prospect that the nurturer also is interested in. They are more likely to initially connect on the personal than on business.
A failed task is uncommon for an examiner. In the unlikely chance that you have a conflict with an examiner, they will also be the hardest style with which to come to a resolution. Avoid any criticism of an examiner. It’s an attack on their knowledge and their preparedness, which is really an attack on thow they are wired. It is like the “W” word with the go-getter.
Start with acknowledgement, focus on problems not in their control, and make it clear that problem is a variable to be corrected. In other words, make the problem it’s own thing to be resolved.
“Hi [name]. I want to tell you that I appreciate your referrals. They are always so perfect, ready to close. I wanted to ask. Did you get that referral from me last month? You did? Something in our process went wrong then. The prospect says he hasn’t heard from you. Can we check that I gave you the right information? You called him? That’s perfect. He might have not gotten the information; I know how people and technology can be. Can you try again? He’s ready for your call and if, for some reason, it still doesn’t work out, let me know and we’ll try something else.”
You’ll see that I focused on miscommunication and technology. The variable in the problem is the prospect. I pointed out that the system broke down because it was incomplete and not in the control of the examiner. By taking this tack, we can then improve the process so it doesn’t happen again. If the conflict is related to late tasks, then it might be a problem of the examiner’s tendency toward perfectionism. In that case, avoid accusation, and instead acknowledge their effort and ability and offer to accept close-to-perfect.
Mastering Communications Styles
Would you like to get better at motivating others, resolving conflicts, and deepen your business relationships with ease? Consider a Platinum Rule Assessment. For just $197 you’ll get a 27 page report that’s about you and your style, a one hour coaching session, a follow up call, and the opportunity to have your network evaluate you.