The Healing Power of A Tough Conversation

When you’re facing a business problem, there’s usually a logical way to figure out what went wrong and what you ought to do about it. But when it’s a people problem there’s no logic, no facts to rely on…it’s about relationships. So when there’s a conflict, the challenge is resolving the issue without harming your relationships. Often that fear prevents you from having those tough conversations.

Fortunately, there’s a constructive and very powerful process to resolving conflict and moving forward toward an outcome that works for everyone. If you’ve got the courage and the willingness to approach the other party to collaborate on the solution here are some key ideas from Dr. Bill Ury in his book The Third Side.

Nearly every conflict between individuals or teams affects a larger group such as entire department or organization. Most conflicts I’ve worked with involve disagreeing on how to get to the desired result. So the first step is to understand and agree on the bigger picture or vision. What are you really trying to achieve here? What is the larger perspective of the organization, team, or department? How does our issue tie into the long-term vision and purpose of the project?

Although it can be scary and make you feel vulnerable, each of you needs to understand and acknowledge your emotions and the emotions of the other parties. If you try to skip this step, the conflict will re-surface! Speak from your own perspective and the other party listens with the sole purpose of understanding and trying to empathize with what you’re feeling. Then switch roles. Getting all that out in the conversation is usually a very healing and powerful process because we all want to be understood and listened to.

When you take a stand that leads to conflict, you’re often afraid that your needs won’t be met if you “give in”. So talk about the requirements and interests that are important to each of you. Get them all out on the table and discuss why they matter.

The last step is to brainstorm creative, innovative solutions that meet the needs of both parties and the larger organization. Time to think past the way “you’ve always done things” and focus on what works for who and what you are as a team now!

This all sounds good on paper, but it can be tricky when you’re in the middle of it. Let me know how I can facilitate a resolution. marla@theinspiredbusiness.com

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