100% Jodi: How to Resolve Conflict With Ease
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Hello everyone and thank you for joining me today. I have been enjoying connecting with those of you who have reached out to say hi, ask questions, say thank you, and share who you are with me. If you’ve reached out you know I’m asking you for feedback on what’s working and what you would like to see more of.
I’ve gotten some great feedback this week from Sonia Sng, Vice President of Product & Innovation Risk at Visa, who was looking for more topics that would benefit both the entrepreneur and the professional working woman. She offered up conflict resolution and personal branding as suggestions and I love these ideas. I developed a workshop on conflict resolution last year and so I can dive right into that topic. Thank you so much, Sonia!
Why You Want to Have More Conflict in Your Life
Erin Robbins from Ginzametrics was on Women Taking the Lead recently in episode 210 and she shared how what worked for her was her ability to be direct and address things as they arose. She explained that, though hardly anyone loves to give critical feedback to another person, it’s actually necessary to keep the peace and maintain strong relationships.
Most people hate conflict because their experience with conflict is the type where the tension built for so long that the conflict was a heated emotional exchange rather than a calm conversation. Who wants to sign up for that type of conflict?
I also know women who value harmony so much they don’t want to rock the boat or come across as unsupportive. The problem is that, in their desire to maintain harmony, they usually create chaos.
I had a personal experience with this when I was in my corporate job. It was during our first acquisition, and you have to know that when you are combining two distinct cultures there is going to be conflict. That is normal. Everyone is used to their way of doing things but adjustments have to be made. And there’s a lot of conversation that needs to take place in order to facilitate the process.
The problem was two different teams began having conflicts and it wasn’t getting resolved. The senior leader who could have mediated the situation and let all parties be heard and make a decision did not like conflict and chose to pretend it wasn’t happening. The miscommunication and chaos that ensued rippled across several departments of the company and every level of those departments.
If nothing else I want you to take away from this episode the clarity that avoiding conflict creates chaos. The more small confrontations you have the more peace and harmony you will experience overall.
Conflict is Inevitable but Resolution is a Choice
Let’s get in to what we are talking about when we say conflict. There are all different types of conflict.
There is internal conflict: being a perfectionist, resentment, guilt, comparing yourself to other people, shame, self-doubt or second-guessing yourself and withholding forgiveness.
There is external conflict with an individual or group and it arises when the expectations of two or more individuals do not align. Your vision of what should be happening differs from that of another.
Then there is external conflict with the circumstances of a situation. The weather is not cooperating, the power went out, or your computer crashed. In this situation there’s really no one to blame, though you make look for someone to blame. Things aren’t going your way and though you have some power in the situation it’s usually limited.
Make Conflict a Little Less Scary
Take nothing personally. This comes from The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz. If you can come to realize that what people do and don’t do has nothing to do with you and everything to do with them you will also realize that there’s not much to get upset about. You can address behavior and expectations without feeling victimized.
Change your perspective on conflict. When your motives and intentions are tied to a larger mission it’s easier to engage in conflict because it’s not personal.
See the person you are in conflict with as your partner rather than your adversary. If it’s you and the other person partnering together to resolve the conflict for the sake of a larger mission it feels different. It takes the sting out of the conversation.
Communicate early and often – before conflicts arise. You have to know what others are expecting and they need to know what you are expecting. By calibrating expectations you will be one step ahead of any conflict.
- Larger vision, strategic mission
- Specific Expectations – of you and for others
Sometimes we fail to communicate an expectation because it is so ingrained in us we don’t give it much thought. However, once it is identified we must immediately communicate it or it will fester over time. The best way to go about this is to take full responsibility for the lack of communication. Even though it was unintended you have to make it clear you are not critiquing the other party for not being able to read your mind.
Sometimes we get defensive in this situation and declare, “well, it’s common sense!” But if that were true the other party would not have failed to recognize and meet your expectations. The problem with “common sense” is it is something that we had to learn at some point. There was a point when this common sense was not common to us – and the same will be true for others. Don’t make the mistake of assuming your knowledge and experience is shared by all.
Take responsibility for not communicating your expectation and realign the expectations going forward.
Praise in public, critique in private. Getting critical feedback is a tricky thing. If we are not prepared for it our defenses will go up. If we get critical feedback in front of others it will amplify our reaction. Our reputations, our standing among our peers, and the perception we have of ourselves is critical to our wellbeing and happiness. Knowing that, critical feedback must be given respectfully and with good intentions so it does not damage the other person nor cause them to have to reject it for their own wellbeing.
Forgive. If you are responsible for any little part in your expectations not being met, start by forgiving yourself. When we have grace for ourselves we have grace for others. Self-forgiveness will soften the edges and make it easier for you to communicate without getting too emotional.
Forgive others and still address the behavior without hurt or resentment.
Sometimes we think forgiveness means moving on before a word is said. Forgiveness is letting go of the resentment you feel toward the other person.
Once you let go of the resentment you may realize there was nothing to forgive in the first place, you just took something the wrong way. If that’s the case, forgive yourself. And if the other person is important in your life you may want to let them in on what transpired so they know what’s going on with you and can give you their support if you need it.
If after forgiveness is granted there is still a miscommunication or misunderstanding that needs to be addressed, address it. Otherwise, you are going to live through this all over again and now there is history building which will only add to the emotions layered over the facts.
You want to think of conflict as something as simple and necessary as taking out the garbage. You clear it away to keep the environment clean and healthy. However, if you decide you don’t want to take out the garbage because it’s inconvenient you will soon find your environment to be a very unpleasant place to be.
Have the conversation. Take out the garbage. Clear the air.
Dance with the circumstances. When it comes to conflict with circumstances you have to recognize what is and what is not within your control. With the example of the computer crashing, you can’t go back in time and undo the crash. Express your emotions over it and move on to resolving the issue. Call the technician, get on a back-up computer and communicate with anyone whom may be impacted by what happened. That is absolutely in your control. Being upset for an extended period or being at a standstill are symptoms of trying to control something that is out of your control. The cure to that is acceptance. When you can accept the circumstances the solutions and actions steps start to reveal themselves.
Practice empathy. Empathy is the ability to understand and share the emotions of another. In order to have empathy you must see things from the other person’s perspective. Having empathy doesn’t mean you agree with another person’s choices or behavior but you can understand what may have motivated them. Empathy helps to create the partnership we are looking for to resolve conflict.
Value the relationship more than being right or justified. When there is conflict there is a tendency to want our position to be validated, to have it acknowledged that we were in the right, so we can go on with the perception that we have it all together, that we don’t make mistakes. We fear that if we can’t prove that we are right other people will lose respect for us. The reality is if you go above and beyond to prove you are right people are going to lose respect for you anyway. How do we feel about people who are know-it-alls or who always have to be right. We don’t want to be around them because it’s exhausting.
Yes, you need to speak your truth. Yes, you need to set expectations and boundaries. Yes, you need to address conflict. You also need to recognize that there are no victims in a conflict and the goal is not to win.
The goal of conflict is to clear the air, acknowledge when expectations have not been met and to create a plan for moving forward. It’s about building stronger relationships so we can achieve that larger mission.
There are some books I want to share with you that helped me to embrace a healthy view of conflict.
Are there any conflicts you’ve been avoiding? I’m going to encourage you to open up the conversation and see if you can’t get it resolved. You will feel so much better on the other side of the conversation.
If you’re anything like me you’ll realize it wasn’t that bad and wonder why you put it off for so long.
Let me know how you’ve been managing conflict in your life. Comment where you found this or go to the post at womentakingthelead.com/conflict.
I hope this was helpful to you and here’s to your success!!
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