Conflict is one of the challenges we often have to deal with. Either it’s with a supplier, a colleague, a union representative, another leader, a “boss”, a partner, a customer… there are many reasons and excuses to fight. And let’s admit it, most of the time, even if we believe we didn’t trigger it, we are not making it easier, at least in the beginning. Why is that? Simply because our perception of a conflict is almost always negative and on top of it, let’s not forget that the human being is ego-driven which also doesn’t help at all!
And it’s a pity because a conflict might, in fact, be a great occasion to start a sustainable and profitable relationship. This doesn’t mean that all relationships shall begin with a conflict but just think about it and I am pretty sure you will find, in your past, a great relationship which was born from a conflict.
Once you have found one, think about what was done to turn it into a productive relationship.
Most of the time, if not always, perception, emotions and emotional intelligence are involved. Let’s face it – although I have heard many times from leaders that emotions have no place in business, this is simply impossible. Emotions arise constantly and instead of ignoring or trying to avoid it the following approach shall help you to resolve your next conflict in a much smoother way.
- Always stay calm andpolite during the conversation even if it’s a monolog from your counterpart. There is no point being tense or aggressive as it only creates additional resistance which is everything you don’t need. You can stay firm and assertive but always polite. The other one is not showing respect: let it go. He/she will most probably apologize later on.
- Listen to understand, not to argue. Show concern and care. If you are the one being upset, ask questions to understand the situations and its causes. If you are the one under fire, listen carefully as well to understand what is the meaning behind all this, take notes if necessary. For both scenarios, listening will allow you to create space between your perception and your emotions. It will help you not to react driven by your emotional situation but more with good sense.
- Find a common goal or purpose. Most of the conflicts last longer than they should simply because the persons involved focus on their differences and on elements they can use to blame the other party rather than looking at what they are both trying to achieve.
I have been witnessing many conflicting situations at various workplaces and after a few minutes of listening to all parties I realized that they had the same goal and purpose, but were using different vocabulary and simply not listening to each other.
Once you have identified a common purpose, switch the “me versus you” mode to a “you with me: how can we do it together”.
A happy end of the year to all of you!
Article by Antoine Villette of AVC Hospitality
AVC hospitality is specialized in Service oriented, Marketing & Sales and Leadership training which can change mindsets thanks to a very innovative approach through people’s Emotional Intelligence. (www.avchospitality.com)