How I Turned a Hostile Situation into a Win-Win
During my childhood years, every Sunday was spent at the beach swimming in the warm waters of the Indian Ocean and playing games - it was wonderful. Therefore, during our vacation in Kenya, we decided to stay in the same area and rented a beach-front cottage for four days. The cottages are kept very secure with locked gates and guards on both entrances.
During that time, my mother spoiled us by sending home-cooked dinners so we didn’t have to cook at the cottage (except for breakfast).
One day as we were waiting for the driver to arrive with our food, I received a phone call from my mother that the guard at the gate was not allowing the driver to enter in. I walked over to the manager’s office and asked if he could tell the guard to let the driver in. A few minutes later, the manager comes to me and tells me that the guard is furious because the driver was rude and he (the guard) will not let the driver in. At the same time, my mother phones me again to find out why her driver is still stuck at the gate and its been 20 minutes now.
At this point, I’m getting furious and I decide to deal it with it myself. I start walking towards the main gate with the intention of giving a piece of my mind to this guard. How dare he stop our driver…..
But as I’m walking towards the gate, I become aware of my thoughts, my physiology and my intention and I find myself asking, “Is what I’m about to do, going to make the situation better or worse?”
THIS IS EMOTIONAL INTELLIGENCE – becoming aware of your thoughts and emotions, and how they are affecting you in the moment. And how they can impact your decision-making.
Before reaching the guard at the gate, I decided I was not going to get upset, instead I’d listen and figure out what he wanted. In a polite and curious tone, I asked the guard what happened and he went on to tell me how he felt the driver was rude to him and it was disrespectful. I listened for about 3 minutes and I instantly realized that all the guard wanted was to be respected for his job and he wanted an apology.
“I’m apologizing on behalf of the driver and I’ll have a talk to with him. This will not happen again,” I said.
The guard thanked me and opened the gate.
You are going to deal with challenging situations at work and in your personal life. It’s a fact of life. The worst way to handle this is to blow up and get angry. This puts you on the defence and it’s difficult to think rationally when this happens. It also can lead the way into saying something that you’ll regret later.
A better approach is to find ways to make the situation a win-win for everyone involved.
The first step in looking for ways to make it a win-win is to ask:
- What is my intended outcome?
- How can I make this happen in an easy way and keep my ego out of it?
Then see the situation from the perspective of your adversary. What are they gaining by behaving this way?
This could be as simple as asking if the person has something they want to talk about. Even just showing that you are willing to do this can go a long way to diffuse the situation.