Conflict Managment – Handling the Sniper’s attack

Welcome back to our most unwanted behaviours. Just recapping on the “Sniper”

The Sniper: This covert operator resents you for some reason. Instead of getting mad, he or she gets even by identifying your weaknesses and using them against you, through sabotage, gossip and putdowns.
When events don’t go as planned or are obstructed by others, a get it done person may try to eliminate the opposition through sniping. Your goal when dealing with the Sniper is to bring him or her out of hiding. Since the Sniper’s limited power is derived from covert operations, rather than overt, once you’ve exposed a Sniping position, that position becomes useless.

1. Stop, look, backtrack – Since your goal is to bring the Snipper out of hiding, you must first zero in on his or her hiding place. If it seems that someone is talking shots at you, stop! – Even in the middle of a sentence. Interrupting yourself brings attention to the Sniper, effectively blowing his or her cover. Look directly into the person’s eyes for a moment, and then calmly backtrack his or her remark.

2. Use searchlight questions – Now it’s time to turn on the searchlight, asking a question to draw the Sniper out and expose his or her behaviour. The two best questions are based on intent and relevancy: “When you say that (backtrack), what are you really trying to say?” and “What does that (backtrack) have to do with this?” The key to asking a searchlight question is to keep your tone neutral and maintain a neutal (read “innocent) look on your face.

3. Use Tank strategy if necessary – If a Sniper becomes a Tank, you may have actually improved the situation; at least now you know what the problem is! Use the strategy recommended for dealing with the Tank not only to command respect from the Sniper, but also from those who have witnessed the attack.

4. Go on a grievance patrol – If you respect that someone is holding a grudge against you, but you’re not certain, see what you can scout out. If you find evidence that someone is harbouring a grudge, you may want to clear the air. If you’re successful in bringing the grudge to the surface, listen carefully to all that your Sniper has to say. Once you fully understand and express appreciation for his or her candid description of the problem.

5. Suggest a civil future – Whether in private or public, finish the interactions by suggesting an alternative behaviour for the future. At the end of any encounter with the Sniper, it’s important to let him or her know that your preference in the future is open and friendly communication. So……

6. Don’t overreact – Reacting strongly to the Sniper may encourage him or her to dish out more of the same. The best attitude to develop is one of amused curiosity. Try not to take it personally, instead, focus on the Sniper, rather than yourself.

7. Distinguish between friendly Snipers and malicious Snipers – Friendly Sniping has its origins in the intent to get appreciated, the need for attention. Malicious Sniping, on the other hand, originates in the intent to get it done and fulfils the need for control by seeking to undermine the control of others.

8. For the friendly Sniper, try reframing – take the remark as a sign of affection or a behavioural quirk. If you can’t laugh at it, you can at least learn to laugh it off. Or just let the Sniper know you don’t respond well to teasing or put-down humour. Since the person likes you, he or she may change his or her behaviour around you. And then that happens, reinforce it by appreciating the person for the change.

I hope you have found this article interesting and informative. High performnce coaching and training specialises in leadership and performance coaching and training. Our next conflict management workshop is on in February.

For further details visit our website www.highperformancecoachingand

Take care

Lee Stemm

  • August 12, 2016


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