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Conflict resolution, dealing confidently with difficult situations

Eilidh Milnes

Dealing with difficult people and situationsbe-hard-on-the-problem-soft-on-the-people

For nearly ten years, I was the senior external trainer for Cheshire Constabulary. During that time I learned the LEAPS mnemonic. My brief was to reduce the perception of crime, Essentially I became the friendly face of the police and facilitated workshops, keynotes and seminars in businesses and in education. LEAPS still proves useful in my consultancy to this day. You may find it useful if and when you have to deal with conflict. The shortcut is LEAPS and it's an empowering tool when faced with aggression. 


Let the potentially difficult person get his or her concerns aired. Avoid interrupting. Good listening is a much-underrated skill. If you aim to listen three times as much as you talk, you will do well. 


I shorten this to the 3Fs Feel/Felt/Found. Put into a scenari;, "I understand how you feel Mr Johnson, in similar circumstances others have felt the same, however, we've found that.... " or “In your position, I might feel the same way Mr Johnson...”


“Can I help?” Assess the situation by asking questions. You're more in control when you ask for an explanation. You show your interest and willingness to assist this way. It hard for people to argue and resist your approach when you are offering to help them.


Repeat your understanding of the complaint or situation to re-assure both yourself and the other person that you know what has transpired and what your plans or actions are. When you summarise and briefly state the next steps or outcome, it allows for any arguments to be diffused.


It's hard to remain angry at a friendly facial expression so if it is appropriate, smile. Smile genuinely with both your eyes and your demeanour. Smiling makes you feel much better as well. 

The first letters of the above words spell LEAPS and the last thing you want to do in any conflict resolution is to leap to conclusions. So it makes sense to be tough on the problem once you have identified what that is, and be gentle on the people who are entangled in the problem. If you are hard on the people, you will create conflict. By being hard on the problem and soft of the person, you will be a more confident negotiator and stronger leader. You will communicate a clear message and gain whatever ground it is possible to gain. 

“I know the work Eilidh undertook for the Constabulary has made a real difference with the 15,000 people she has delivered to." Malcolm Hughes, Community Safety Officer, Cheshire Police. This is an endorsement of my work, a testimonial that certainly makes me smile! 

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