Very few words in the English language bring up so many emotions like the word “Conflict” does when you see it or hear it or say it.
We experience and deal with conflict in various ways at various times every day. It might be in the form of a disagreement or challenge with a business partner, work colleague, employee, client, or supplier. We see it at home with a significant other, family member, child, or friend. Maybe it’s something that they did that upset you or an expectation of them that they did not meet for you. Perhaps it’s in the form of you forgetting something that you committed to do for them and you let them down. Or, it shows up in two employees coming to you with their conflict with each other hoping you can resolve it with the other person for them instead of working it out on their own.
And from these conflicts, most of us are left feeling unsure of how best to resolve the conflict without upsetting the other person more or feeling bad that we were the cause of the conflict. Sometimes, the conflict does not seem to resolve – it festers under the surface and gets worse over time until you have a big blow up with that person over what seems like a minor problem. We tend to feel uneasy around the person we’re in conflict with and it can lead to ruining your relationship with them or ruining morale and culture of your company on a bigger scale.
A mentor of mine once said, “Business and sales is really about decoding human behavior and reducing conflict.” Think about this for a moment. Everything we do in business in sales comes down to figuring out why someone is saying/doing/reacting in the way that they are or figuring out if we do or say something how will they react. Or, it comes down to trying to resolve a conflict that has occurred or do something in a way to ensure that conflict doesn’t arise from it.
There are various reasons why we continually get caught in the conflict trap with others. Some of these are:
- We’re not taught/know how to deal with conflict effectively. Who was taught about how to effectively deal with conflict by family or a teacher growing up? (We tend to handle conflict in the same way we witnessed parents or family members deal with it when we were growing up.)
- We view conflict as something that is bad or just a necessary evil we have to deal with each day. What if we changed our mindset on conflict and viewed it as something that is productive to fixing things and improving in our day-to-day lives?
- We want to solve it quickly and just be done with it versus take the time and effort to talk through it with the other person and figure out and resolve the root cause of the conflict.
- We don’t try or want to understand the other person’s point of view or beliefs in the conflict. We just fight for what we want and our own position. What message does this send to the other person when we do this?
- We allow ourselves to become the middle person in the conflict between two people instead of getting them to talk direct to each other and work it out on their own. They see us as the rescuer and we gladly take on the role because we want to help, but we actually don’t help either person by doing this.
- We want to have the tough conversation that we believe will help to resolve a conflict or help another person, but we fear how they will react or if it won’t go well or it won’t come out perfect when you have the conversation.
Now that we are aware of some of the things causing conflict, the next question is:
what can we do to resolve it, right?
The next time you’re in a conflict situation with someone, here are some tools you can use to resolve it more effectively:
- If you’re seeing conflict with someone else, you are contributing to it in some way, shape, or form. Take responsibility for your part in it. This means that you can also take responsibility to do what it takes to resolve the situation.
- Seek to understand 1st and then to be understood. Stop making it all about getting your needs met and your point across. Acknowledge their feelings and how the situation is impacting them and ask questions to better understand their concerns and what they would like to see happen to resolve the situation before talking about what you want.
- Control what you can control – your behaviors and actions, your approach to the other person, your attitude/mindset in the situation. You can’t control the other person and their actions, reactions, approach, and attitude, but you can always control your own.
- Realize and accept that there is no right or best way to have a tough conversation and resolve a conflict – the majority of the time it’s going to be messy and that’s ok. The key is getting the conversation started and focusing on working together with the other person to resolve the conflict.
- Get out of being in the middle of conflict between two people. Put it back on them to take responsibility to resolve it directly with each other. Stop the drama from perpetuating.
Conflict may not be easy, but it is necessary for people to progress and grow personally and professionally. Change your mindset and approach on it using some of the tools above, and I bet the techniques to resolving conflict will occur more easily for you.
If you need additional help with how to deal with conflict in your business or with your sales team, please reach out to a Lushin consultant to talk further on how we may be able to help with this.