The ABC(D) Model: 

Achieve rapport - Establish trust, explain your role in the interaction, make the other party feel comfortable, find an appropriate time and place to meet, begin on an even playing field.

Boil down the issues - Listen carefully, ask questions, get the “whole” story, address fears which might keep others from moving towards a solution.

Clarify their wants - Don’t make assumptions, ask clarifying questions, ask “what if” questions, find out what their interests and goals really are and what needs they want to have met.

Develop a game-plan - Collaborate, brainstorm possible solutions, be creative, be clear about what you can do and what they need to do, discuss a general time line in which things will get done and approximately when you will talk again.

Things to Remember:

  • Be wary of jumping to conclusions or making assumptions.
  • Empathize, don’t sympathize.
  • LISTEN, ask questions, LISTEN, ask questions...

Dealing with Difficult Situations:

  • Restate the other party thoroughly both repeating the content of what was said and acknowledging the emotions behind what was said.  Ask them if you understood correctly or if there’s something they think you haven’t heard.
  • Make a list of the main issues and then address them one by one.  Look for common interests and start there.  Help refocus the other party when they start to stray.
  • Check out their commitment to resolving the problem.  Explain what you can realistically help with and what role they will need to play to accomplish their goals.

Use the Language of Neutrality:

  • Please tell me more about...
  • Can you share some examples of...?
  • Have you encountered this problem before?  How did you address it then?
  • What I hear you saying is...
  • Can you suggest an option that could address the problem of...?
  • If (name) is willing to... does that change what you would consider as an option?
  • Do you see a way of doing that?
  • What feels like a fair solution to you?

Rx for Prevention:

  • Communicate interests and needs... to everyone who is responsible for knowing.
  • Know the channels... the university can easily appear to be a complicated bureaucracy. It’s important to understand its policies and the channels you must go through to resolve problems.
  • Don’t procrastinate! In most cases, the longer you wait, the harder it will be to solve your problem.

Seek Assistance:

Everyone has different abilities, at different times in their lives, to work through adversity. There are several resources on campus to assist you. Ask for help when you’re stuck, need information, need ideas, or just need someone to listen.