Recently a friend was sharing the challenges of dealing with a very over bearing and uncompromising stakeholder. This made me think of a time when I came across a stakeholder who was challenging to deal with. In my mind, I used to judge him for not supporting my initiatives or always questioning them. I felt very intimidated when I was with him and was fearful of challenging him on his thinking!
The really hard part for me was realising that I was part of the problem because being too timid, too shy, too quiet or too “nice” can be the same thing as being too outspoken, too aggressive or too demanding. I didn’t have clear boundaries around what I would accept and what I won’t.
I’ve learnt that if I’m dealing with a difficult stakeholder, I need to change the way I engage so my boundaries and expectations are clear. And that sometimes means I need to do or say things which I find challenging. So I practised and rehearsed my conversation around how I would approach the stakeholder and made the conversation about me, rather than him. Being vulnerable by admitting my challenges around engaging him, helped him understand me better which in turn gave me insights on why he came across as intimidating.
So are you aware of your boundaries in business relationships and what behaviours you won’t stand for? Do you take ownership of a problem by being innovative and finding new ways to address it rather than pointing fingers?