Last week we busted three myths about conflict
Myth 1. Conflict is avoidable – It’s not avoidable, it’s normal and to be expected.
Myth 2. Conflict produces bad negative stuff – Not necessarily. Well-managed conflict can lead to innovation and new solutions.
Myth 3. Conflict creates polarization – Not always. Conflict can actually strengthen relationships.
So, I think you see the common thread here. Conflict can be beneficial when managed constructively. So, how exactly do we do that?
I have three suggestions. The first and most important.
1) Park your head in the right space. Your mindset should be “Seek first to understand and then to be understood.”
The person you disagree with has an antenna (OK, we all do) and can detect whether your mindset is one of mutual respect and desire to understand, or whether you’re just posturing.
Be specific about what is bothering you. Vague complaints are hard to work on.
No hitting below the belt. Getting personal creates distrust, anger.
Avoid accusations. They lead to defensiveness.
Don’t generalize. Avoid words like “never” or “always.”
Avoid exaggerations. Stick with the facts.
Deal with only one issue at a time. Don’t introduce other topics (or stockpile complaints) until each is fully discussed.
3) Schedule it. This suggestion is for managers. Think of it as preventative medicine. If there’s tension in the air, rather than leave it to chance, schedule time with your team to bring up an elephant in the room. Sometimes simply having the meeting can send the message that it’s OK to talk and disagree.
Lastly, I’ll leave you with my favorite concept about conflict. It’s from the book Getting to Yes, a classic about negotiating. In it, they use a technique where they get opposing parties to voice, in their own words, what they think the other side wants and why. It’s like a verbal “walking a thousand miles in my shoes”. I’ve found this technique to be very effective in understanding and appreciating the other side’s perspective. Try it. It works even when only one person does it.
©Copyright Eva Del Rio