Do your inflexible colleagues, manager, partner, family or friends frustrate you?  Are you annoyed by their rigidity and unwillingness to change?

It’s my way or the highway!

Most of us know people who want things done their way.  They are not open to doing things differently, they resist change and will effectively say “it is my way or the highway”.  This inflexibility and lack of negotiation on their part can cause disagreements, stress and conflict.

Inflexible communicators

Inflexible people are stuck in their ways.  They are stuck in a comfort zone of inflexibility.  Inflexible people are inflexible communicators.  Being inflexible in our communication often hampers our personal and professional relationships and success.  It can put people off side, lead to resistance to our suggestions and ideas, and affect performance.

While your colleagues, manager, partner, family or friends may be inflexible, you can choose to be flexible and change how you say and do things to improve your success.  If both you and the other person are inflexible, you will reach an impasse with both of you wanting to be right in your own mind, and neither of you wanting to consider alternatives nor negotiate a win-win.

Here are 5 ways that you can more effectively deal with inflexible people:

1.       Stop wanting them to change

Forget about changing other people – that is beyond your control.  Only they can change themselves, you can only influence them more effectively through your communication.  Constantly focusing on what someone else is doing, saying or not doing or saying, or how you want them to behave can be stressful.  Your focus needs to be on you – how you are behaving, how you are communicating and how you are influencing others.

2.       The outcome is king

Your outcome is key.  When you are clear about your outcome, it is much easier to achieve it; you will know exactly what to say and do and how to do it.  Without that clarity, you may say or do things that move you further away from where you want to be or lead to disagreements.  Prior to communicating with other people, be clear about exactly what you wish to achieve.  Make sure that the outcome is a win-win for all parties involved.

3.       Be flexible or frustrated

When you are communicating with other people, you have a choice.  Keep communicating in the same way, get the same response and be frustrated.  Or change your communication, receive a desired response and be happy.  When we are flexible, we challenge ourselves to step out of our comfort zone, and we learn and grow.  Flexibility is rewarding while inflexibility is frustrating.  By the way, if you are communicating in the same way with an inflexible person, aren’t you also being inflexible?

4.       Influence effectively

Instead of getting annoyed by others’ inflexibility, learn how to relate to them.  Once you really understand the other person at the deepest level and what drives them, you can adapt your approach to what works for them.

5.        Address your buttons

Do you ever over react to other people with anger, hurt, rejection, fear, betrayal, anxiety, defensiveness, aggression, retaliation, etc.?  These are potential buttons you may need to address.  Instead of you being objective and flexible in a conversation, your perspective will be clouded by these buttons.  Addressing your buttons means you can be more flexible and achieve a win-win outcome more easily.

When dealing with an inflexible person, remember to shift your focus from them to you, and use the above tips to be more flexible in your communication.  You may just find that when you are more flexible, others are more receptive to your ideas and suggestions, and they may be more flexible in return.