Former President Ronald Reagan shied away from confronting his opposers or subordinates who needed a good "talking to" says biographer Lou Cannon. He injected humor (not sarcasm) in the conversation. Cannon says, "[He realized] humor was a wonderful tool for deflating political opponents and sidetracking their most significant assertions."
Leaders who project an air of strength (Reagan's foreign policy sought to achieve "peace through strength" and, as Cannon points out, his "cowboy" persona pervaded public perception) are not always at home with confrontation. I am not a funny person and so choose to tackle my opponents by facing off with them by being candid about my feelings toward them. This is how I disarm my critics.
This post is part of my "Leadership Lessons From American Presidents" series.