|Conflict is a divisive, painful, and expensive phenomenon in business. Think about the time and energy that goes into the upsets between individuals, teams, and departments in your organization. The cost of stress in US business is $300 billion per year. How much of that bill is your organization paying? Well, that’s just the beginning. The lost opportunity, disengagement, and work-around costs are likely higher.
Resolving conflict is simple but not easy; and it’s a great opportunity to strengthen people’s character and their alignment to your company values. It requires both extra effort and a commitment to learning how to find common ground between valid, but differing points of view. Contrast that, however, with the amount of time and energy you spend listening to people vent when they are unwilling to resolve issues with their colleagues on their own.
Fortunately, in reasonably healthy organizations, conflict is an unintended consequence of well-intended people getting stuck in misunderstandings and disempowering stories. Good people often do this from moving too fast to communicate effectively. Resolving these conflicts well, will strengthen your culture and your profitability. When avoided, however, conflicts get fossilized into “walls” between people and departments that make problem solving, effective cooperation, and optimum profitability virtually impossible.
LionHeart’s approach to conflict is built upon a strong commitment to self-responsibility, voluntary accountability, and respectful communication of one another’s needs and concerns. It opens the door to both personal and organizational transformation. Using our guiding principles and practical steps will both break down the walls between people and strengthen your foundation for accomplishment.
1. Conflict is unavoidable. It occurs most often with the people we spend the most time with and care a great deal about, because they play an important role in our lives.
2. Conflict can be intentional or unintentional. Initially, giving people the benefit of the doubt that they are not consciously or intentionally causing a conflict with you, is your best choice. If you discover a conflict is intentional, stronger accountability is necessary.
3. Our choice of words matters. Using judgmental and derogatory language to describe others is more informative about our own emotional intelligence than those we are upset with. It disempowers both of us.
4. Eliminating blame is crucial. Every conflict involves a contribution from both parties. It’s either something you said or did, or neglected to say or do – sometimes subtle, sometimes more obvious. Blaming others creates defensiveness and closes the door to great learning. Looking for and acknowledging your part opens that same door.
5. Getting everyone’s needs met is possible. We react and engage in conflict when we momentarily believe we cannot get our own needs met or we cannot fulfil our most important intentions. These thoughts are never a true reflection of what’s possible; they are just an indication that we have an important lesson to learn.
6. A Positive Approach Becomes Contagious. Taking the high road through conflict involves the courage to be vulnerable with what you could have done better. When you do so, the others involved are more likely to look for their own mistakes and learning to negotiate a reasonable solution. The low road of escalation or avoidance is also contagious; and it is paved with accusations, defensiveness, blame, and gossip.
7. Effective Teamwork Takes Time and Space. Sometimes we move at the speed of light to get the never-ending next thing done without considering how we are impacting others. Relationships become transactional, as opposed to trusting and respectful. When we stop relating with people in a meaningful way our relationships are not strong enough to accomplish what’s possible.