Many times we work with people who are difficult, to say the least. In the past I’ve worked with individuals who seem to be very opinionated and stubborn on certain subjects. What I’ve found is that the times I had to deal with the difficult person on a situation, which I was sure we would not agree on, it was almost impossible to find common ground on their home turf. I was walking into a losing battle and the odds were not in my favor.
When we would talk in their office, where they felt strongest, most comfortable, and most powerful the conversation was always tilted in their favor. They had the home field advantage. Things would even be more one sided; when they would have someone in their inner circle in their office with them. It was as if they would try to impress the other person by telling me like it is.
The idea of walking into a bear cave never hit me until I caught this person out of their office and away from other people. When they had no home field advantage and I was able to get the bear out of his cave, the bear seemed to have lost all off his power. He was no longer as stubborn, no longer was dead set on his ways, and even seemed a little uneasy during his communication. When the bear was caught out of his cave he lost all of his egotistical mojo.
From then on, it was my goal to get him out of his comfort zone so we could get real work done. I had to stand in front of the cave and lure him out when necessary; anything to eliminate the distraction of dealing with someone with selfish motives. Sometimes I’d pop my head in and ask him to come see me when he got free. I would schedule meeting times. I would wait till I caught him away from his desk. I would even ask him to come to my office. WOW. What a power swing. Getting him out of his comfort zone inoculated his defenses and pierced his exterior shell so we could get down to the nitty-gritty of a situation, without having to deal with office politics.
The next time you find yourself going into a bear cave, instead of going into a losing situation, lure the bear out and play on neutral ground. You may even find yourself controlling the state of affairs (for the good of the organization and other people of course).