Turn Conflict Into Cooperation

by Dr. Rick Kirschner on November 4, 2011

Dealing With People Dealing with difficult people is a subject I have studied in depth, including over a thousand interviews to learn what worked and what didn’t work.  I co-authored and delivered a bestselling audio and video on the subject, “How To Deal With Difficult People,” and an international bestselling book on the subject, titled Dealing With People You Can’t StandHow to Bring Out the Best in People at their Worst.”

Even in my newest book, “How To Click With People,” I explore the difficulties that present themselves in relationships, and how to get around them, through them, and into closer connection with people under stress.  And in my private practice, I work with a number of people who’ve chosen to stop feeling like victims and turn challenging relationships around.

Suffice it to say, I’ve got more than a few tricks up my sleeve for turning conflict into cooperation.

Here are just a few of them:

Being Nice To People Who Aren’t Is a Waste of Time and Energy

Taking the high road is one way of describing the necessary attitude adjustments before dealing with people.  But you still get to deal with them.  And that’s where making a behavioral adjustment is essential.  Being nice to people who aren’t is a waste of time and energy.  Nice works great with nice people.  With everyone else, it’s irrelevant.  I’m not saying ‘be mean,’ I’m saying be something else.  Focused and directed.  Relaxed and relatable. Excited and enthused.  Our relationships happen through us, not to us, and if you don’t like the results you’re getting in a particular relationship, notice what you’re doing, then change what you’re doing with that person to get a different result.  And if you don’t succeed, try something else.

To Be More Effective, Take the Initiative

Fact is, people behave badly because when they are stressed out and lack resources.  But doing nothing more than accepting their difficult behavior leaves the problem in place for the next person.  Better, I think, to be effective, by making appropriate choices based on what’s possible and what’s likely to work.  It isn’t that hard to learn to do.  You just have to be willing to take the initiative.

Finding Resources within Yourself

One last point. I find it far more useful to assume good intent behind bad behavior, than to assume bad intent or that the person is resistant to change.  Life has a funny way of allowing our assumptions to turn into self fulfilling prophecies.  If you base your own behavior on a useful assumption about the behavior of others, you just might find the resources in yourself to turn bad to good and good to great.

Comments?  Feedback?

Be well,


Related Posts:

1. How to Master the Art of Healthy Communication

2. Are You a Change Artist?

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