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Dealing with Hostile Audiences - 10 Tips

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It is important to understand social styles and how they react differently to conflict. For example, those with an aggressive personality may thrive on conflict; those who are collaborative may avoid it at all costs. Conflict of issues is good and healthy. Conflict of personalities is not. Understand your own style and tendencies for dealing with conflict. Understand your audience as well. Then select the appropriate behavior. Also, focus on the importance today of building alliances, partnerships, long-term relationships, and teamwork with internal and external customers. It is important to resolve conflict in a win-win manner and to do that in a way that maintains your likeability so you maintain the long-term relationship. Here are some options for disarming hostile audiences: Give the irate person 100% undivided attention; prove it with your sustained eye contact; keep your facial expression neutral and your arms open, communicating you are open to their opinions. Be a patient listener. Do not interrupt. Don't rush to respond either. Pause when they have finished. Perhaps they'll say more. Remember they can't listen to your response until they've unloaded their emotional baggage. Attitude adjust. Choose to see the hostile person as a friend who needs more information. But resist responding for now. Ask a clarifying question if unclear as to their meaning. This demonstrates that you want to understand their position. Remember Stephen Covey's advice: Seek to understand before being understood. If the person is quite upset, paraphrase back the facts and feelings you think you've heard; this let's them know that you have listened and again are trying to understand their position. Ask if you are hearing them accurately. Pause and wait for their response. Remember they can't bear your response until their negative emotional state is more relaxed. Your active listening will help to calm them and you. Apologize if you or your company hasn't met their expectations in the past... even if it wasn't your fault or your organization's. Show empathy. Walk in their shoes a moment or two. Speak in a sincere and relaxed tone. Call your customer by name. Now communicate the issue, as you see it, wearing your customer advocate hat. Focus on what you can do for them. Take a rational, objective approach. Focus on their economic realities. Then outline points of agreement (beliefs and values, vision, strategies). Solicit their ideas for an acceptable next step turning an adversary into a collaborator. Acknowledge their ideas and stay focused on win-win solutions and shared hopes for the future. Try these tried and true tips for disarming the most hostile audiences. These tips were supplied by Nancy Skinner, an author, speaker, and coach, heads Nancy Skinner & Associates, Inc. She and her associates are dedicated to enhancing the credibility of leaders to communicate change and to get a buy-in. For information about Nancv Skinner & Associates, Inc., contact Jennifer Maxson, Communications Manager, at (616) 954-9388 or e-mail address jmaxson@corpcomp. com.