Conflict Management Overview
By: Phil Lower
Like most things in life, we occasionally encounter conflict. Frankly, sometimes the smallest thing in the morning, or on the way to work, will light the fuse. Then all of a sudden, you just handed the dynamite to the next person you met and BOOM! Doesn’t feel good to have done it and certainly doesn’t feel good to receive it. The greatest skill you can develop to benefit yourself, your company, or your career is the ability to deal with conflict.
Below, I’ve touched on 12 areas to be aware of as you deal with conflict. These are being expanded on and will be made available through The Evans Group LLC (www.theevansgroupllc.com) once I complete the document. You’ll also be able to review it on my Linked In profile page so please connect with me. Send me a request and I’ll see what I can do to expedite a copy to you.
12 Areas of Conflict Management
- What outcome do I want? Win/Win or Win/Lose – Ask yourself what needs are being expressed by all of the parties including myself. Can this conflict be resolved in a way that will work for everyone?
- Am I Response-able? – What I think is occurring in this situation is not as important as what is actually occurring. Do I see any open doors or opportunities that can be taken advantage of to resolve it?
- Am I Actively Listening or thinking about what I’ll say next? What clarifying questions or statements can be said to make sure I understand them and they understand me?
- Create Empathy better than Bill Clinton. It’s not enough to “feel their pain.” But, am I mirroring it appropriately in my body language? What do I think they’re saying and have I repeated to them? What will let them know I’m listening to their concerns?
- Constructive Presence – am I targeting what needs to change in them, the situation, or a behavior? Am I being aggressive or casting blame either verbally or in my body language? If you’re going to be hard on the person, and not the problem, (the wrong way around in my opinion), then check your emotions. Judging them in a negative way can be stressful for both of you and lead to unintended consequences.
- Sharing Power to resolve a conflict can often lead to faster results than an authoritarian decision from on high. Using it appropriately can determine the outcome. But sometimes you need to coach the other person into cooperation. Be cautious to actually share, not manipulate. Being disingenuous will immediately destroy your credibility.
- Stress Management can only occur when you know what emotions everyone is feeling. The best way to manage it is to try understanding what needs to change either externally (situation) or internally (in me). These changes can be as simple as getting out of the office for lunch. Just look at it with clear eyes and don’t punish them for causing emotions to rise up in you. Instead, focus on what skills or tools you need to develop or use.
- Do you actually care that this was brought to you? Do you resent it being brought to you and what is causing the resentment?
- Seeing the Possibilities – means that I need to envision outcomes and communicate that vision while trying to understand their desired resolution.
- Exerting Negotiation Skills means I need to have a clearly defined goal and understand their goal. Know when to hold back and when they are. It’s best to avoid reading between the lines so there’s no miscommunication. Be sure to get an appropriate witness to any agreement whether or not it’s in writing. If you need to save face, ask them to “help” you and offer to “help them” if it’s not going to cost much to do so.
- Third Party Mediation can be tried when the parties can’t or won’t resolve things amongst themselves. Ask yourself if you’re the best person to mediate, if not, and there’s another option, will it work for the disputing parties.
- The 30,000 foot View of any conflict still requires I check myself for biases, for other people’s biases, and for lack of information. Then make sure all affected stakeholders are aware and understand whether or not a positive or negative precedent will be set. Finally, look out for blowback from unintended consequences.
- I know I said 12, but this one is free. Breathe. You’ll get through it.
Phil Lower is a Certified Professional Coach and Business Coach / Founder of Paladin Business Coaching. He serves as Senior Vice President and a Business Coach / Consultant / Trainer with The Evans Group LLC (www.theevansgroupllc.com). Phil also serves as the Editor / Business Coach of the 5 Minute Business Mind (www.5mbm.com). “Our mantra is Learning and Coaching ~ Applied because that’s what we do. It just doesn’t make any sense to teach something or coach someone in a way that’s not going to help them in their personal and professional lives or to better the organization they work in.”
After overcoming learning disabilities as a child and accomplishing his Master’s in Organizational Management, Phil’s great passion is to use his uniquely creative and analytical perspective to help organizations develop effective training and coaching concepts, courses, and programs that have synergistic impacts on culture and drive ROI by focusing on customer-centric outcomes. As a college faculty member and Liberal Arts Dept Chair, Phil brought that same passion to his students, advisees, and faculty teams.
Using high-integrity, exploratory techniques and building strong decision-making skills, he has coached for-profit and non-profit business owners, officers, directors, professionals, civic and religious leaders, students and mentees, from 30 different countries, to help them accomplish their Goals, Visions, and Dreams.
Please feel free to reach out to any of our contributing authors. It’s our prayer they can help your business goals as they have our 5MBM team.
General questions and article submission requests, please send to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Everyone March’s to Their Own Drummer
By Phil Lower
When coaching business owners and internal coaches, I hear questions about someone being so different from “X”. “X” can be a group, clique, department, or whatever. Now I have to tell you, I’m not a big fan of Diversity from the politically correct perspective. It is often used or perceived as being used to stifle dissent. But I am a HUGE fan of Diversity from the “tapping into giant potential perspective.” Because without it, it’s very difficult to truly innovate.
To this point, I want to quote from David Keirsey’s book, Please Understand Me II.
“If you do not want what I want, please try not to tell me that my want is wrong. Or if my beliefs are different from yours, at least pause before you set out to correct them. Or if my emotion seems less or more intense than yours, given the same circumstances, try not to ask me to feel other than I do. Or if I act, or fail to act, in the manner of your design for action, please let me be. I do not, for the moment at least, ask you to understand me. That will come only when you are willing to give up trying to change me into a copy of you.
“If you will allow me any of my own wants, or emotions, or beliefs, or actions, then you open yourself to the possibility that someday these ways of mine might not seem so wrong, and might finally appear as right – for me. To put up with me is the first step to understanding me.
“Not that you embrace my ways as right for you, but that you are no longer irritated or disappointed with me for my seeming waywardness. And one day, perhaps, in trying to understand me, you might come to prize my differences, and, far from seeking to change me, might preserve and even cherish those differences.
“I may be your spouse, your parent, your offspring, your friend, your colleague. But whatever our relation, this I know: You and I are fundamentally different and both of us have to march to our own drummer.”
There are absolutely right and wrong places to have certain behavioral styles working. I’ve found myself in the wrong position, as compared to my strengths, and so have most of you.
However, when we are discussing the multi-disciplinary nature of a thriving business, cross-functional teams, or even unique work cells and committees, all participants need to be coached or reminded of several things:
- Members of the group need to establish trust and a professional level of intimacy. This must include Empathy. Not the touchy feely stuff. But rather empathy that allows teams to function through effective relationship management.
- Let everyone be themselves. Mutual respect doesn’t always mean mutual liking.
- Active Listening. In other words, let someone finish speaking before you begin thinking about what you’re going to say next……huh?
- Ask direct questions. Get rid of the Passive Aggressive anchors that are holding you back and be direct.
- Create Awareness of the situation being analyzed with real, legitimate data so good decisions and ideas can come forth. Base things on agreed upon facts so everyone is playing from the same sheet of music. (Or, at least the best data available. Remember garbage in, garbage out.)
- Participate in designing actions. Everyone may not have the same types of answers. But everyone can ask questions and offer thoughts and remarks.
- Planning and Goal Setting is shared and Co-owned. Out of the designed actions, everyone is an equal owner of what comes out of the discussion.
- Everyone Shares in managing progress, accountability, and reward. If you are a Co-owner, you share equally in both criticism and praise.
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Management Lessons From The Count of Monte Cristo
By Phil Lower
Alexandre Dumas’ famous literary work, The Count of Monte Cristo (French: Le Comte de Monte-Cristo), is the back drop for this question. Edmond Dantes (our protagonist) is a naïve young man when he is thrown into a hideous prison, Chateau d’If. There he suffers from deprivation and periodic beatings at the hand of his jailer, Armand Dorleac. (If you want to know why he’s in prison, I suggest seeing the 2002 remake with Jim Caviezel as a fair retelling of the story.) Through it all he’s about to commit suicide when Edmond meets the Abbe Faria (Abbot/Priest) who is tunneling to escape imprisonment.
Dorleac beats Edmond out of personal satisfaction. Abbe Faria nurtures Edmond to grow into who he can become, despite incarceration.
Dorleac’s world revolves around closing people down to possibility and breaking them. Abbe Faria spends eights years, locked in the same situation, expanding Edmond’s mind through literature, languages, science, religious instruction, economics, etc.
In short, Dorleac doesn’t care about Dantes’ life, Abbe Faria is content to develop and increase Edmond’s capabilities while working towards a common goal.
If you’re an employee, what have been your experiences? If you’re a supervisor, have you checked your own management style in order to move toward Abbe Faria? Or, are you content to occasionally beat your employees because they can’t find another job and should be grateful for the one they have?
I have been blessed to have found and learned from both of these archetypes during my career and continue looking forward to how the “future” will unfold. The end of the book leaves one with a final thought. All human wisdom can be summed up in two words – Wait and Hope.
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9 Universal Principles for Creating, Growing, and Achieving Your Vision
By Phil Lower
People talk about having a Vision for their business or of their future. If you want to succeed, learn these nine principles below.
1. Have a Vision Bigger Than Yourself
Not having a vision is like working at night without light, the moon, or the stars. A vision needs to be larger and greater than you and where you are now. Don’t limit your vision to what you can see or believe right now.
2. Inspiration Can Come Suddenly
Be ready for inspiration and write the vision down. Creativity is part of the process. Be prepared even at night with a rested and unfettered mind. The process of envisioning where you want to be is deliberate. Expect that anything could inspire you.
3. Envisioning is a Deliberate Process
There is no correct time frame for completing your vision. Envisioning is deliberate. Write down ideas. Marinate on them. Your Business Plan is a living breathing map to your future. Update your Vision statement and bring all your activities in line. Since most of us aren’t used to envisioning how great something can be, enjoy the ride and take lots of notes. Keep them where you can readily access them. Revise your business plan as necessary.
Anything else is wishful thinking.
4. Write Your Vision down
A vision is a call to action. It can be confusing until it is expressed. That is why it is so important to write it down, to make it plain, and to gear all efforts towards its accomplishment.
Get it down on paper with a pen. There is something to actually writing it that imprints it on your mind much more clearly than typing it into the computer. It takes on a personal quality.
If there is no written vision, the business can only go on the spoken word of the owner. Without a vision, you might as well be walking around your company or job naked since you’re exposed to everything that comes by.
5. Declare and Share Your Vision
Vision can be multiplied like multiple photos creating a panoramic view. By sharing the vision with others they become proponents or opponents of what you’re working to accomplish. Keep the proponents and take them along with you as far as they help you accomplish the vision.
The vision is not for everyone that is with you or for whom you know. Walk the walk, and talk the talk, of your vision.
6. Protect Your Vision
Letting other people influence your vision, when they are not part of the process, could damage it. Remove those who negatively influence your vision from life. If you can’t, inoculate yourself against their poisonous beliefs and attitudes. Whether they leave you alone, depart from you, or you’re deaf to them, you win.
7. Accomplishing Your Vision is a Deliberate Process
It may seem like you’re too weak to accomplish your vision right now – and you are. Keep pushing. As you become stronger personally, organizationally, financially, in your support network, you’ll move forward faster and faster.
Track your progress. Move players around to accomplish your Vision. Be prepared to gather ideas from different sources and experts.
A vision emboldens you to commit to action. Talk about it, Commit to it, and See it done!
8. Your Vision is for an Appointed Time
A vision is for a particular season. It is a breathing living thing. Work for it. Know it is coming. It will not be later than its appointed hour.
9. A Warning about Your Vision
If you’re given a vision, not pursuing it is disobeying your life’s calling. Just because you can’t accomplish something now, doesn’t mean the vision isn’t for you. Learn, grow, change, network with people who can help. See it done!
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