Dealing With Conflict: Effective Leadership Practices

Based on all the comments on my recent article Dealing With Difficult People, I realized that dealing with conflict is not only a fact of everyday life, but also takes many varied forms.

Here are the top 10 suggestions and reminders I received that were particularly insightful and helpful:

  1. Realizing we are all “difficult” at times and we never know what else is going on in someone’s life at any given time.
  2. Recognizing and owning your own role in a difficult situation gets you further faster.
  3. Sharing ownership for finding a solution may avoid difficulty.
  4. Helping people feel safe when they may be vulnerable.
  5. Remembering to keep challenging interactions in a private space.
  6. Acknowledging there are people who enjoy creating drama, chaos and disruption; there are people who choose to be miserable; establishing boundaries to limit your exposure whenever possible.
  7. Demonstrating patience and non-judgment in difficult situations.
  8. Distinguishing whether the person is being deliberately difficult or having a difficult time herself? What are the motives or reasons behind the behavior?
  9. Dealing with difficulties as soon as possible and in a straightforward, yet respectful, manner. Keep it professional, not personal.
  10. Asking yourself “do you want to be right or do you want to be effective?” How can you work with others to get to the best result?

Dealing with conflict is clearly a challenge for many of us in our work and in our lives. And our responses run the gamut from dealing with it quickly to avoiding it at all costs.

For business leaders, unless you are working with your team on a regular basis to use conflict to your advantage, it can end up eating up much of your time while you play mediator among the warring factions.

In my next article, I will provide some guidelines for turning conflict from a negative force to a positive one in your organization.  Stay tuned.

#conflict #dealingwithconflict #dealingwithdifficultpeople #leadership #deliberateleadership

 

Dealing With Difficult People

When I ask people what their biggest challenges at work are, “dealing with difficult people” is usually in the top 5. And when I ask for further explanation or examples, I hear things like “unreasonable,” “always has to be right,” “won’t listen.”

What is the best way to handle these situations?  With deliberate intention.  That means you have to avoid reacting or over-reacting, and be thoughtful about your interaction.  Here are some steps to think through as you prepare yourself that will make the process more productive:

  1. Determine what you want. What is the ideal outcome or result you are trying to achieve?  In other words, begin with the end in mind.  The more clarity you can bring to this, the better.
  2. Put yourself in the other person’s shoes. What does she want?  Why is she unreasonable?  What are her frustrations? And what is at stake?  Sometimes, when we look at the situation from the other person’s point of view, we realize they may be equally unhappy with the status quo.  Try to be empathetic.
  3. Decide to seek a win / win. How can you resolve the issue in such a way that you both get what you want or something better?  Think creatively about possible solutions or options.  Do a little research or brainstorming to think through alternate routes to your ideal outcome.
  4. Approach the person and the situation with an open mind and an open heart. Even as you have your ideal outcome in focus, realize that there may be other solutions that you cannot see from where you sit.  There may also be more to the situation than you can see.
  5. Know that it may take more than one try. If this person is important to your ability to progress or to be successful, don’t give up on your efforts to get through to her just because she’s difficult. If there is someone who has a more effective relationship, ask for help.  That person may have some insight that will bring you more understanding.  Plus, if you keep following this pattern consistently—and learn from it each time—you will eventually break through.
  6. Manage your tone and body language. When you do have a conversation, be aware of not only the words you use, but also the tone of your voice and what your facial expression is conveying.  If you have cultivated an open mind and an open heart, this is easier.
  7. State your intention up front. When you begin what may be a difficult interaction, take a minute to “position” the conversation up front by stating your intent, what you want to achieve and any concerns you have about keeping the conversation positive, productive and respectful of the other person’s needs and wants. Once you do this, you can always refer back to your statement of intent if the conversation gets off track.

Dealing with difficult people can certainly be a challenge that makes the workplace less productive and less enjoyable; learning to be more effective in your interactions can make a big difference to you and the people around you.

As I always say, “if you’re paying attention, each and every experience you have contributes to who you become as a leader.”  Even if you fail at building the relationship with that difficult person, making the effort means you are taking the high road.  Learning what works – and what doesn’t work – makes you a better leader in the long run.

I’d love to hear about your experience with difficult people and what you have found works best.  Please leave a comment!

#difficultpeople #dealingwithdifficultpeople #leadership #deliberateleadership

5 Steps to Greater Resilience: Recovering from Election Day

6_img1Yesterday was a difficult and emotional day for many Americans.  Regardless of whether you got your way or not, the anger and frustration that has marked this very, very long campaign continued.  Added to it was a fair degree of shock and disbelief.

I admit, I woke up yesterday more depressed than I’ve ever been.  But one thing I have always prided myself on is my resilience.  I feel a lot better today.  A lot more hopeful, a lot more optimistic, back in balance.  How does that happen?

I believe that resilience – that capacity to bounce back – is about the ability to put things in perspective, the sooner the better.  Here are some steps that will help:

  1. Step back. See the situation as an observer instead of a participant.  What do you notice about your own behavior and that of others?   What is it that you like and dislike about it?
  2. Take the high road. Force yourself, if necessary, to behave in accordance with the person you most admire – or you when you are your very best self.  How would that person respond to the situation?
  3. Look at the big picture. Ask yourself how the situation will impact you in the long run.  How will you feel about it three weeks from now, three months from now, three years from now?  If you have trouble with this, try to remember something that troubled you three years ago.
  4. Find the lesson you need to learn. I believe that “if you’re paying attention, each and every experience you have can contribute to who you become as a person.” * What will this experience contribute to your growth and development?
  5. See the humor in the situation. There is always humor – look at how much fun the late night pundits had over the past 18 months. Find something that amuses you, makes you smile or laugh out loud.  Humor is the best medicine.

When you step back, take the high road, see the big picture, you realize there are lessons to be learned and humor to find in almost any situation, no matter how serious.

Practicing resilience is a great preparation for dealing with all the challenges that life presents to you along the way.  We all have them; some of us just bounce back faster than others.  Like anything else, the more you practice it, the easier it gets and the better you get.

“Remember that when you improve, everything around you improves.”  * Your attitude improves, your results improve, your relationships improve.

*  These are quotes from my book, Becoming Deliberate:  Changing the Game of Leadership from the Inside Out.  Do you have your copy yet?  If not, click here to take advantage of free gifts when you purchase.  And, by the way, it makes a great gift too for your favorite leader, aspiring leader or anyone just looking to improve their life.

Teamwork – The Ultimate Competitive Advantage

I recently finished reading The Boys in the Boat, by Daniel James Brown.  It’s the story of “Nine Americans and their Epic Quest for Gold at the 1936 Berlin Olympics.”  And what a story!  Even though it’s early in the year, I know this book will be one of my favorite books of 2016, the same way you watch a movie early on and know it is destined for Oscar nominations.

Before reading this book, I knew nothing about crew and little about the importance of the ’36 Olympics in the context of the Nazi propaganda machine and the controversy about U.S. participation in the games.  This book is unforgettable portrait of that time, as well as a record of one person’s quest to overcome incredible odds to achieve something few of us can even relate to.

More than that, this is a book about teamwork and the exponential difference it makes in one’s ability to perform at levels beyond all expectations and accomplish things that no one would really believe possible.

If you’ve ever worked with an extraordinary team, you may have experienced the notion that some call “flow,” or “being in the zone.”  It’s the place where true synergy kicks in and the whole far exceeds the sum of its individual parts.  In rowing, this is referred to as “swing,” and when this crew achieves that level of performance, nothing can stop them.  The story is so well written that the reader feels that he or she is right in the boat with the boys.  And it’s a truly beautiful experience.

In business, this level of teamwork is transformational, and yet, it is also rare. Yet, it’s achievable!  I speak from personal experience, as one who has been part of such a team and as one who has had the privilege to lead such a team.  And now, I want to help you transform your team into a cohesive, high-performing, high-achieving team that gets the results you want.

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 It all starts with understanding what makes a team dysfunctional, so that you can avoid that, and exactly what it takes to turn your team into a competitive advantage for your organization.  I can’t think of a better time to share this with you than right now, as you are preparing to have your best year ever.

If you are serious about having—and leading—the best possible team in 2016, join me for my FREE Webinar:  Teamwork – The Ultimate Competitive Advantage. I look forward to seeing you there!

#teamwork #competitiveadvantage #deliberateleader