Grab a snack and settle in, peeps.  This one’s a bit long as the topic is something I’ve coached multiple clients on this week alone, and many of you likely are challenged by it, as well.  I’m talking about dealing with a very difficult person in your organization (it could be a teammate, your counterpart across the org, or a superior) when you don’t have a choice and it’s in fact, part of your role.

What then?

When working with clients, I typically do three things: create a strategy, experiment using different language, and look for leverage.


I talk with them about mindset and intention.

Before anything else.

Because if that’s not right side up, the other stuff won’t be as effective.

This might sound a bit woo-woo, but from my lived experience and working with so many clients over the years, I’ve seen it again and again: as human beings we are feeling beings, and we are finely tuned to one another’s energy in our interactions.  Without really knowing it, we listen to tone, look for expression, watch body movements.  We have a sense if we like someone, feel comfortable with them.  Safe.  And if we don’t.

When we’re in disagreement or conflict with another and our sense of safety is disturbed, we often defend, look for blame, build a case, become contemptuous.  (We all do this, including me.)

And as natural as that is, it is super unhelpful to the situation.

So, what does it mean to get our intention right before anything else?

It doesn’t mean:

  • Giving in
  • Being soft
  • Losing ground
  • Lowering standards
  • Reducing accountability

Instead, we come from a place of true solidity and centeredness within ourselves and an openness to the other person and collaboration.

In other words, we don’t go in ready for battle.  (Which doesn’t mean we’re unprepared, more on that in a sec.)

One of my mentors, Terry Real, might call this approach loving firmness.  We keep our standards high and our intentions generous and compassionate, the kind that exude that we’re on the same team.  We are prepared in that we bring accurate information and don’t make assumptions.  The content of our interactions might be any number of things — including rough spots — from establishing deadlines to finding solutions, from creating greater accountability to exploring alternatives, from stating what we need to asking how and where we can best lend support, etc.  All of it.  But our intention, how we show up, is that we are partners rather than adversaries.

This doesn’t mean the other person responds well.

But we’ve set the stage for an optimal outcome and for surfacing the real obstacles where the three tools mentioned above of strategy, language, and leverage can be used to greatest advantage.

My next openings for executive coaching are at the end of this month.  And my next openings to work with SLTs are May 1.  To learn more about working together, go here and here.  To see a full list of offerings go here.  And if you don’t see what you’re looking for or want to discuss an engagement, you can reach me here.
To read what clients are saying about what it’s like to work together, go here.

If you haven’t yet registered for the LIVE Magnificent Leadership® Annual Event on October 17+18 in Raleigh, get on it! 😊  We are already half full.  Registration fee is $1500 and includes a cocktail reception on the evening of October 17th, full day’s program on October 18th with gourmet breakfast, lunch, and snacks.  Favorable room rate at the property located 10 minutes from the RDU airport.  Members of the same team may attend for a discounted fee of $1000/registration.  Many participants return each year and bring their deputies.  This unique business leadership event takes place behind closed doors and brings together front-of-the-pack leaders from across a broad range of industries to foster real conversations and solutions.  We also have outstanding guest speakers bringing their perspectives and insights on the most pressing matters today.

To reserve your spot go hereThis event is the only live event I offer all year, and it will sell out. 

Program details to be announced soon, to view last year’s event, go here.