How to resolve conflict without ripping your pants & pulling a muscle
Back in the day, go-to tactics to resolve conflicts in the workplace included, but were not limited to: heated yelling, profanity, vulgar displays of brute strength, tipping over vending machines, raining kidney punches, guns drawn at high noon in front of the local saloon, dropkicks & leg sweeps, blowing up a vehicle ‘to send a message’, etc., These techniques make for a decent movie, but in the real world will result in multiple arrests and hospitalizations, which is bad for business, unless you are a lawyer or a doctor.
The days of mighty drop kicks and dueling pistols in the work place are over
Crisis resolution skills have mercifully been honed to the point wherein we are now able to use carefully chosen words, common sense, restraint, and those proven civilized strategies to tackle the differing of opinions without having to worry about ripping the crotch out of your pants with a high kick.
It’s the law of nature that if you get more than one person in a room at the same time, the potential for conflict increases exponentially. Strong personalities, individual passions, personal conviction, hubris; all ingredients liberally tossed into a hell broth of conflict stew (I may have just made that term up). Sometimes you will be right. You will know you that you are right. Sometimes you will be wrong. You will know that you are wrong but may be a little reluctant to admit it.
To further muddy the waters there are those underlying issues that often lurk beneath the surface; the tip of a perceived workplace iceberg (I may have just made up that term). Seldom is a crisis about a singular, contentious issue. So, what happens when you find yourself in a situation where things have the potential to degenerate from the professional into the personal?
Leave the duelling pistols safely locked up at home
Consider the following:
- What is the perceived problem?
- Hang on, what is the REAL problem?
- Is this issue something really worth arguing over? It takes a lot of energy to win an argument. Are you willing to expend that? Can you take the higher ground and just let it go?
- If it’s an ongoing issue, bring someone else in for a fresh, neutral perspective.
- Concede if you discover that you were in the wrong (you can’t win ‘em all). Keep it in perspective. Living is learning.
- Keep it professional. Don’t get personal.
- Don’t gloat if your adversary concedes that he / she was wrong. Your turn for being wrong may be just around the corner.