Different functions, business units and geographic will have different priorities. Internal conflicts, be it nice or nasty, its how these conflicting priorities are resolved. Conflict is good, provided it is contained. Uncontainable conflict and open warfare are not good.
The first principle of conflict management is:
Do not take it personally; especially when it's meant to be personal. This is easy to say but hard to do.
The natural reaction to conflict is to fight or flight: Punching a work colleague or running away is not good tactics but the fear is real. Fear stands for:
Engage the enemy emotionally.
Argue against all-comers
Retaliate, and repudiate reason.
Remove the F from fear and we have ear.
Agree the problem
Resolve the way forward.
Empathize: Listen past the bluster and blame. Listen past the emotion. Let the person talk. Listen actively to show the person you understand. Do not try and put your own point of view forward or justify yourself, it will only cause more conflict. and my personal failing is to try to fight emotion with logic.
Agree the problem: Try to focus on the actions, outcomes and benefits desired. This is where listening moves from paraphrasing to asking questions:
- "So what we need to achieve is...?"
-"So where do we need to get to by next week/Month?"
-"What does the customer want as a solution?"
Resolve the way forward: Once you have all calmed down and agreed the situation and the problem, then the way forward is often clear. Formally agree the next steps forward.
If your in conflict it means that someone thinks you are wrong. In many organizations, the standard operating procedure at this point is:
- Deny and wrongdoing: It has all been misinterpreted; that is not what happened.
- Spread the blame: you where told to do it or you where let down by someone else.
- Change the subject: in a superior way point really should be focusing on a more important issue.
- Shoot the messenger: as usual, up to no good and poising the well of corporate well-being.
This needs courage and strength that few people have and it needs to be done right.
The word "Sorry" hardly exists in the corporate language. Be aware that when people are angry they are incapable of listening. You will often need to repeat the apology several times. This can be increasingly frustration because it feels like your apologizes are been rejected. Be aware they may not be able to listen past there emotions.
You will need to act fast. Get the apology out early: the longer things are left to fester, the worse they become.
Two little words. Practice them.
You can expand on them once you get the hang of these two little words.
"I'm sorry, you where right, I was wrong"
These 7 little words in the right situation could be the most powerful moments of your career.