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People often ask me how to deal with impossible demands, where someone is asking for or expecting something that one is either unable or unwilling to deliver.

A second version of this scenario is where you’re involved in helping two people in dispute find a way to resolve their difficulties so that they can get on better together.

This came up again last week, and it reminded me of my article ‘Moving from Positions to Interests to Avoid Deadlock’, which I wrote some time ago. As I re-read and polished it a little, I realised that this is something that I should share more widely. It’s written from a manager’s perspective, but the ideas can be used to shift any tricky conversation, not just workplace ones (try it with family, for example, especially if you have kids).

IT EXPLAINS HOW to:

  • Avoid getting stuck in an endless cycle of demand-refusal
  • Move a conversation from deadlock to collaboration
  • Engage more productively when the conversation has seemed fruitless
  • Break out of deadlock
  • Move forward without ‘giving in’
  • Take control (and command) to steer a discussion into calmer waters.

HOW LONG do you need to understand the ideas in the article? I guess if you’re not familiar with the content it’ll take you three to five minutes to read through and grasp it (I have just timed myself reading this article, it took me less than two minutes, but then already knew what I was reading about). From then on, it’s just practice.

I hope you find it useful, let me know if there is anything else you need. Click on either the link above or here to download it.

And, please share this with others.

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