Last week, I introduced the first five ways to mitigate and minimize the negative effects of conflict. In this week’s blog, I’ll continue by discussing the value of communication, creativity, and staying focused when overcoming conflict.
- Be direct and speak from your perspective
Once you’ve made it this far, the other party will likely suspect that something they might not agree with is coming. Don’t beat around the bush. Don’t attack. Express how you see it from your perspective and be direct – it will be okay! By talking about the issue only from your perspective, you’re owning it, and you’re asking the other person to listen and understand as you’ve just demonstrated. An example could be something such as, “As I see it, if we do this, it will have this unintended impact.” Remember to not make it about the person, but about the issue at hand.
- Offer a solution
Often, it’s okay to poke holes in a theory, especially if someone specifically asked for it. However, most of the time, having an alternative is required. Keep in mind that when you have this alternative, presenting it in the right way matters. I always ask people to offer solutions rather than drop a lot of “you shoulds”. An example of this could be, “In this case, have you considered the impact of [fill in the blank]? What would that look like if we took this approach?” Again, it’s collaborative and part of the team effect, not personal.
- Don’t allow deflection
Deflecting from one topic to another, one person to another, or one solution to another is the subconscious workings of conflict avoidance. When you’ve identified a problem and you’re working on solving it, stay laser-focused on it. If more issues arise, write them down, but don’t “squirrel out” to a different topic. Remain working on that single issue until it’s solved, or develop a plan to move forward.
- Be aware of doom loops
Watch out for doom loops. If the same point is being restated (just in different ways), cut it off and push for a solution or a step to move it forward. Identify who’s accountable for the issue and ask them what they want to do…and then do it. If it’s big and hairy, ask about a step to move it forward – perhaps it’s research or a conversation. Do something so it’s moved forward. Remember, making the wrong step helps you understand where not to go in the next step.
- Document the clearly defined next steps
You’ve done all this great work – don’t let it disappear! Write out the specific steps that to be taken, by whom, and when each step will be completed. Identify how these actions will be verified and how people will be held accountable. Don’t leave any wiggle room and make sure it’s crystal clear. Then, as the leader, be sure to follow up to confirm that the steps were taken.
Conflict avoidance doesn’t have to be a killer of culture and productivity. By using these tips, you’ll build trust, as well as a much more productive and healthy team.
Want to learn more about how to turn conflict into a positive? Could your team progress with less conflict? We can help you with that! Contact us today for more information.