- Who & Why?
Category Archive for: ‘Confrontation’
One of my clients mentioned the other day that in her line of work ,whenever a client disagrees with her decisions or course of action for the client, my client feels like she wants to avoid what seems like oncoming conflict. It’s hard for us to face conflict. Often times, for most of us differing opinions makes us uncomfortable enough to want to run and hide.
I used to be one of those people that could not stand it if someone I cared about would raise their voice or disagree with me. It always felt like I was in a boxing match. My best defense: I would exit stage left and just disappear. Looking back now, it was pretty funny. Who just up and leaves the room like that? Not exactly a strong personal brand.
Most of us believe if we are in careers that call for conflict/negotiation, then we must be really good at confrontation. That’s not necessarily the case. Look at me for example: I was a lawyer, yet I was never fond of conflict.
It wasn’t until I recognized that confrontation does not mean conflict that I was able to stop leaving the room whenever a conversation got “awkward” and uncomfortable. As a result, my brand grew stronger as others saw me as a self-confident person who stuck around.
We often get confrontation and conflict, which leads to possible aggression, confused. Here’s how I define it:
If we can confront a situation, that’s power. There’s creativity in differing opinions. That’s a good thing. Confronting a situation means be brave, stand firm, yet kind and address the issue for the greater good. That’s a powerful brand that is effective and attractive.
If we can’t confront a situation, then we often default to aggression using force. As Werner Erhard states, “force negates power”. Never is aggression backed up by force an attractive brand value. No one respects forceful brands. No one wants to follow forceful brands. No one wants to buy from forceful brands. It can’t work.
So stop and think to yourself:
– how is your ability to confront a situation? Do you flee or stand firm?
– can you start looking at confrontation as a natural part of life based on differing opinions that could result in varied approaches to business and life?
– when do you resort to aggression and force to get your way, as a brand? Being self-aware is the first step in developing a successful, deliberate personal brand.
It seems that more and more people are talking these days about how having boundaries within our lives is optimal and productive. I’m not talking about physical boundaries. The boundaries I am talking about are those we enforce with people in our lives in order to respect our time, feelings, preferences and of course, our personal brand development. The alternative is a downward spiral.
I find in my daily interaction with clients, friends and potential clients that people just can’t say, “no”. I find it happens with certain types of people and professions more.
I get many junior attorneys and other junior professionals who fall prey to a lack of boundary. Just the other day it happened again: a junior attorney was late to our meeting because:
-“I had a client on the phone and I just couldn’t end the call so I could be on time to my meeting with you.” OR
-“I disagreed with my senior partner’s theory but didn’t feel comfortable saying so and then someone else voiced their dissent, instead of me, and got all the praise.”
Being able to say, “no”, with ease and grace is a gift we bring to ourselves and to others. It helps people understand where they stand with us. I liken it to training a puppy. Puppies need rules and discipline. Just the same- we need to know where we stand with people. I call this having a high “confront”, where you are able to eloquently and easily state your preference and views while respecting the person/people on the other side.
If you have a low confront, and thus low/no boundaries, people walk all over you and the result is a disastrous personal brand. Why would anyone think you could provide them quality service, if you can’t draw boundaries or dissent? The assumption is that if you can’t stand up kindly TO me, how can you stand up kindly FOR me and be my advocate in business?
So please take some time to:
1. Figure out what your boundaries are in general.
2. Figure out what your boundaries are in a particular situation.
3. Draw your boundaries. Practice on the small stuff so you’ll be able to draw the boundaries on the bigger stuff with the ease and grace of an effective personal brand.
In the end, you’ll see the world respects you and your personal and business brand more.
As a business owner or employee, we all have this problem sooner or later: a customer becomes aggressive, and even hostile, during a business interaction or negotiation. What should we do?
First, I can tell you what NOT to do from my years of personal experience and observation of others in action. Rarely does it work to interrupt the customer and offer up reasons as to why they are wrong. I see this technique happen all the time with my clientele when I am working one on one with them. My clients often tell me they feel the need to try to stop the customer and make them feel better by giving them the correct version of what happened.
The problem here is that by doing so you are: 1)angering the customer even more because you have interrupted their rant/rave 2) offering up what sounds like poor excuses to justify screwing up, leaving a very poor personal brand of yourself for the customer and 3) showing the customer that you are not able to “confront” them and have an intelligent conversation with them.
When you encounter an aggressive customer, I recommend you do the following:
1. Realize this situation is NOT personal to you- the customer isn’t aggressive with you. They hardly know you. They are aggressive with the situation and you just happen to be the face of the situation upon whom they can vent. They don’t know you. They don’t know you are a kind person and on their side.
2. Allow the customer to fully vent or finish their cycle of aggressiveness- Of course, this makes sense so long as they are not physically threatening you. But 9 times out of 10, people just want to be heard. If you just allow them to be heard, you have given them 90% of what they need and want in that moment.
3. Acknowledge their reason for being aggressive- no matter how nuts you think the customer is being, remember that to them their aggressiveness is very real and right. They may go home and realize they were a jerk, but in that moment they feel hurt and thus, aggressive. Realize this fact and say something to acknowledge them as humans. It could be as simple as saying, “I totally understand how you would feel this way”. This statement doesn’t mean you agree with them, but that you get them.
4. Look them in the eyes and don’t let your gaze drift- holding your own and being able to confront a situation means being able to be with a person in that very moment and looking them in the eyes. I’m not saying stare them down. In fact, that is exactly what NOT to do. But looking with compassion into another human’s eyes, immediately deflates any tense situation. Non-verbal communication is at least 78% of all communication. So by holding a steady gaze, you are saying volumes without saying a word. In fact, a firm and compassionate gaze sets you up for a completely effective and confident and strong personal brand.
WHAT EXPERIENCES HAVE YOU HAD WITH AN AGGRESSIVE CUSTOMER? EMAIL US AND LET US KNOW.
I define negotiations as when we work side by side with another party to come to a mutually beneficial result. Being able to successfully negotiate speaks volumes about your personal brand, as I discussed in this blog post.
In all my years as a lawyer negotiating various agreements with tons of parties, I always found the best way to approach a successful negotiation was with the intention of having a peaceful interaction. That said, the problem always comes up when we look at one of the fundamentals of negotiation: confronting another party.
The term “confront” has a really bad vibe and meaning in our every day language. We often hear people refer to someone as being “confrontational”. What image or personal brand does that conjure up in your mind? For most of us we envision someone being very aggressive, even angry, with their finger pointing at the other party and barking orders. Am I close?
In my world, “confront” is a great term. It means you can stand up to a situation and handle it successfully. There is nothing wrong with confronting a situation as long as you do so peacefully with the intention that both you and the opposing party succeed and walk away content. Standing up for yourself and explaining your wants and needs requires looking people in the eye, being totally present to them and the situation, and communicating effectively by using your words carefully. I’m always encouraging clients to look at negotiations and confrontations as a way of connecting with people in a positive way.
Any situation you can’t confront and handle, handles you and leaves you without control. That translates into an unsuccessful personal brand.