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How do you handle things when someone refuses to compromise and they harden their stance?

SmartPulse -- our weekly nonscientific reader poll in SmartBrief on Leadership -- tracks feedback from more than 200,000 business leaders. We run the poll question each week in our newsletter.

How do you handle things when someone refuses to compromise and they harden their stance?

  • I work around them. They're not changing, and I need to get things done: 37.04%
  • I offer more concessions to see if I can get them to move: 4.40%
  • I get other people to pressure them to change their stance: 5.33%
  • I accept their position and go work on more fruitful work: 10.41%
  • I try to empathize and understand their concerns so I can soften their stance:  2.82%

Avoid or empathize? When faced with someone who refuses to compromise, it seems respondents choose one of two options -- avoid the other person, or empathize and try to change their position. For those of you whose first instinct is to avoid the person and work around them, consider trying to understand their position and soften it. There's a reason they're dug in. It might be a risk or an issue that you're not considering and should be taken into account. If, however, they are clearly just being unreasonable and obstructionist, it's probably time to move on and work around them.

For those of you who do have a bias toward empathizing and trying to bring someone along, do decide when you'll change approach and move forward rather than continue to delay your work. Sometimes all they're doing is stalling for time and deliberately slowing you down.


Mike Figliuolo is managing director of thoughtLEADERS, which includes TITAN -- the firm’s e-learning platform. Previously, he worked at McKinsey & Co., Capital One and Scotts Miracle-Gro. He is a West oint graduate and author of three leadership books: "One Piece of Paper," "Lead Inside the Box" and "The Elegant Pitch."