So you find yourself in your first management job, and despite all of your early success, now you’re in the middle of some conflict and challenges, and you’re not sure how to navigate your way through it? Don’t panic; you can do this. You have to work your way calmly through it, like Indiana Jones would work his way through the booby-trapped catacombs in search of the grail. You can DO this!
Defuse Tensions First: Before you begin to engage in a difficult conversation or confrontation, you need to first release your assumptions about what might have led to the situation, and make sure that you don’t attribute beliefs or assumptions to anyone involved. Remember, that you cannot possibly intuitively understand someone else’s motivations, and engage in a humble and patient dialog designed to get you to a point where you understand what they’re thinking and what they want and need, and why. If your conversation has begun to lead to anger, frustration or negativity from your conversation partner, work to reframe the conversation in a more positive light. Find common ground and encourage the person to join you in an attempt to find a win that you can both feel great about. Lead the conversation to a place where your colleague can hear how positive you are, and can feel good about working together to develop a nice win.
Dig In, and Understand: Don’t believe for a moment that you can know someone’s true intentions. Don’t suppose, rather ask questions and listen carefully to what they’re saying and what they’re not saying, in a valiant attempt to arrive at understanding. Embrace good positions, regardless of the origin of the good idea. Realize your impact on the situation emotionally, and how the ripple effect will carry the emotional effects out beyond just the colleagues involved.
Steady As She Goes: Stay calm and resilient, no matter what happens. Swallow your anger, should it rise, in the interest of harmony. Focus on facts and how to help everyone involved in winning. Make sure to avoid miscommunications by clearly stating what you mean, what you don’t mean, and what you want to accomplish. Someone needs to model the behavior that leads to everyone behaving like professionals when a conflict arises, and it would be best if you ensured that it would be you, by going first.
Be Positive and Aggressive: Talk openly about how conflict or confrontations really don’t have to be negative or hurtful. State your strong desire to help every party involved to get what they want and to arrive at a win/win solution that everyone can feel good about. Remind everyone that confrontations serve a very useful purpose as they lead to a release of tension and a healthy clearing of the air around the team. When teams engage in healthy dialog and get positive solutions to problems by working together aggressively to resolve challenges, conflict doesn’t build up and fester.
Get It Right In Your Head First: Be direct. Be respectful. Be fair. Be humble. Speak with your colleagues about the gap between expectations and results, not about personalities. Focus on solving problems so that all involved will benefit from the solutions. With your mind set correctly, encourage others to do likewise. Encourage every person involved to believe the best about one another and to settle only for solutions that make everyone better and stronger.
When you find yourself in the middle of a challenge, and you feel it leading to a confrontation or a conflict, it’s time to dig deep and to bring your best. Remember that giving in to the fear and the panic isn’t going to help to resolve the issues. Remind yourself that you can do this. By steadily breathing and remaining calm and professional, you can work the problem and find a positive solution. Deal aggressively with these situations, by being proactive and setting a positive tone, and expecting a great outcome.
Michael is an executive development coach and a business consultant in Minnesota’s Twin Cities of Minneapolis and Saint Paul. Michael’s firm works with C-Level Executives, their leadership teams, and their emerging leaders to run extraordinary businesses, replete with winning teams and positive culture. Michael is launching a group coaching program this autumn for emerging leaders in the Twin Cities Metro Area. If you’d like more information about this exciting opportunity to network with other emerging leaders and to work with Michael on becoming the best leader YOU can be, send Michael an email at email@example.com. Michael will happily send you a fee copy of his new e-book on Business Best Practices.