Rule 71: Cultivate diplomacy

Nigeria’s Sport Enthusiast,Politician and Publisher, Dr.  Orji Uzor Kalu with Blogger, GDA 

Smooth
Rules players move rapidly up the corporate ladder because they are
diplomats.  They don’t start fights, they
stop them.  They don’t sit on fences,
they mend them.  They spread calm around
them and others turn to them for advice and inspiration.  You too will be a diplomat.  You will be known for your objective
appraisal of any situation, your impartial attitude and your even-handed
dealings.

                 …And
ask questions in times of conflict


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So
you are at a meeting and things are getting hot under the collar.  The chairman isn’t handling things
particularly well and Steve and Rachael are going for
each other’s throats yet again.  What are
you going to do?  Ask questions.  It is easy to defuse dangerous situations by
getting the protagonists to look at some detail.  You don’t have to break up the fight – that’s
not your job.  But you can be the diplomat;
this gets you noticed and earns respect from your colleagues.
Turn
to Steve
and ask him, ‘Steve, why are you
convinced that your department is going to find these new invoices unworkable?’
  If Rachael carries on the fight just
say to her, ‘Hang on Rach, I really want
to hear what Steve has to say’.
 
You’ve made it clear that you aren’t taking sides but you are diffusing
the situation.  Hear Steve out and then turn
to Rachael.  ‘You
are convinced that Steve is wrong.  Tell
me why?’
What
you have effectively done is taken over the chair’s role, become the head
honcho, and assumed control.  This is
both diplomatic and clever.

“Asking
questions invariably takes the heat out of potentially explosive
situations.  You turn to one of the
combatants and ask them a simple question.  Don’t get bogged down in psycho-babble of the
Why do you feel like that?”

Asking
questions invariably takes the heat out of potentially explosive
situations.  You turn to one of the
combatants and ask them a simple question. 
Don’t get bogged down in psycho-babble of the ‘Why do you feel like that?’
‘Can you share your anger with us?’  Instead ask them to focus on an aspect that
needs explaining.  They will have to
break eye contact with their opponent to think about answering you.  Thus the heat dissipates and you have proved
yourself as a diplomat.
Avoid
doing this if either protagonist looks like the blood has drained from their
face – white face means they will hit someone, red face merely blowing hot and
hard.
Avoid
doing this if the chairman is handling the situation effectively – obviously
they aren’t if the fight has started, but they may be making an effort and will
resent your intrusion.
Avoid
doing this if you are involved in the argument in any way personally.
Asking
questions usually gets people to switch their attention from the main argument
to a detail.  They have to be pretty
angry not to be polite enough to at least attempt to answer your question.
 (Excerpts from THE RULES OF WORK by Richard Templer Read “7 ways not to
take sides’”
from The Rules
tomorrow on Asabeafrika)







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