“Conflict” is an ugly word to most people. There are 4 common views about conflict:
- it’s inevitable and hopeless, therefore avoid it
- it’s dangerous and frightening, therefore escape it
- it’s a simple of issue of right over wrong, therefore fix it
- it calls for constant compromise, therefore suppress it or force a resolution
I don’t like conflict any more than the next person. But I do think conflict is part of life, and I think conflict is an opportunity not only for a joint resolution but an opportunity to learn. Conflict, at times, needs to be intentional. It’s too easy to say ‘it’s none of my business’ and ignore injustice or poor behavior of a co-worker that is causing problems around us.
I’ve been asked throughout my career why I’m so direct?If you had a close friend or co-worker you saw standing on the ledge of a building about to jump, you would do everything to intervene and talk them off the ledge. People have behaviors and attitudes that cause career suicide or relationship suicide. How many relationships die due to unspoken thoughts and assumptions? What stops you from intervening?
This is the lost opportunity: in every confrontation there is an opportunity for growth, to learn and to deepen the relationships for all involved. I consider sitting silent while poor performance, bad attitudes or unresolved conflict are allowed to continue like watching another person commit suicide and benefiting from it. Benefiting in that I remain comfortable by not confronting it. It feels inherently wrong but definitely is rooted in selfishness to sit silent.
Be willing to confront and embrace conflict. Deal with situations immediately but use wisdom in timing. Once you step out and have fierce conversations you will get better at having them. Here are some tips to making sure you have the right attitude while confronting:
Remember you are a difficult person to deal with by somebody
We love to believe our own hype, but truth is not everyone likes you. Don’t let yourself be self-decieve into thinking otherwise. Stay sober minded about how you may be perceived and received by others.
Don’t assume intention
We judge ourselves by our intentions and we judge others by their actions. You don’t know anyone’s intention, no matter what evidence you think you have. Go into conflict willing to learn what their intention is. This is the best way to start the conversation “This is what you did and how I took it, was this your intention?”
Be willing to change
We all have unconscious biases that affect how we perceive the world. Be willing to see when one of yours is skewing reality. It doesn’t mean the other person is 100% off the hook for their behavior. This is the point where joint resolution is possible because understanding of each other’s perspective is reached.