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.

Where Do You Need More Clarity?

ClarityIn my recent post, Three Ways to Gain More Clarity, I shared some of the easiest ways to improve the level of clarity in your life and in your work.  One reader asked:  How do you know where you need more clarity?  Wow!  What a great question!

As a speaker and a coach, whenever I discuss clarity, I encourage my audience to ask themselves where more clarity is needed.  And I have a few suggestions on where to start.  One of the simplest is this:

What do you want?  It’s surprising how powerful this simple question can be.  Many of us, especially women, spend so much of our time, energy and attention on helping other people get what they want, that we forget to ask ourselves.  In fact, when I ask clients this question, they are usually stumped for a moment or two.  And often, they can more easily say what they don’t want and we have to work backwards from there.  This works very well, by the way.

Why do you want it?  Once you know what, it’s helpful to know the reason behind the what, especially if the “what” requires time, effort, attention or money.  What I’ve noticed, over time, is that, without the why, it becomes easier to give up on the what.  So when the what is important, so is the why.  In fact, I recommend that you ask yourself why multiple times, to get to the real baseline motivation that will help you overcome the inevitable challenges on the way to the what.

Here’s an example of an exchange with a business leader who told me she wanted a promotion. I asked her “why is that important to you?” and continued to ask that same question with each answer she gave me:

  • Because I want more money.
  • Because I want to buy more things.
  • Because I want to have more things.
  • Because that means I am successful.
  • Because I want other people to see me as successful.
  • Because my parents and teachers told me I’d never amount to much.

Once this client realized that she was relying on external sources for her sense of self-esteem and self-worth – once she gained clarity — we were able to re-focus. We worked on identifying the intrinsic value and rewards for the work she was doing, the contributions she was making and the ways she was able to help and support others.

She began to understand that those reasons were far more powerful and far more sustainable as a source of motivation.

Clarity is indeed power, as Buckminster Fuller said.  Once you have clarity, you have a better idea of where you want to go and how to get there. Everything falls into place.

Clarity is so important to success that it’s one of the first topics in my High Performance Coaching Program.  If you want to learn more about how to consistently perform at your best, just click here.

Clarity is also one of the main tools I recommend when I speak on “Hope is Not a Strategy, You Need a Plan: Getting to the Next Level Using the 5C’s.” If you are interested in a keynote – or a workshop – on this topic, just send an email to info@ellisbusinessenterprises.com or, for more information, click here to see my Speaker’s Profile.

#clarity #womenleaders #businessleaders #highperformance

 

 

Building Efficiency, Community and Innovation in Your Organization

What are you doing in your organization to encourage efficiency, community, and innovation?  These are the guidelines used at Google in deciding on which People Programs to offer.

I am currently reading Work Rules:  Insights from Inside Google That Will Transform How You Live and Lead by Laszlo Bock, leader of Google’s people function.  It is certain to make it to my 2016 Favorites List.  (See my favorites from 2014 and 2015).  Though I left my [largely satisfying] corporate career over ten years ago to pursue the dream of having my own business—with no regrets, I admit that I would have loved working for a company like Google.

The commitment to finding the best talent on the planet and to the health, happiness, success and welfare of their people is truly impressive.

I will be writing more about this but today, I want to focus on the aspect of finding no cost or low cost ways to make a difference in the lives of your team.  Here is just one thing in each category that happens at Google that would be easy to implement in your organization:

efficiency - text in 3d blue glass cubes with white letters, business concept

Efficiency:  Recognizing that people work hard all day, only to go home to “another job” related to family or household, Google makes it easier for everyone by bringing vendors on site to provide services like:  haircuts, manicures, dry cleaning, car wash and oil change, bike repair.  Small business owners in the community can be excellent partners to enable this in your company.

Group of Multi-Ethnic Business People Raising Their Hands And Holding Placards That Form Community

Community:  Not only Take Your Child to Work Day, but also Take Your Parent to Work Day!  An opportunity to thank parents for raising amazing kids and to see first hand what their work environment is like and hear from some of their coworkers.  Wow!  I can’t help thinking how much my dad would have loved to visit with some of my bosses.

InnovationInnovation:  Talks @Google is an opportunity to hear from authors, thought leaders and other luminaries on subjects as broad as your imagination.  These talks are on video and uploaded to YouTube to the benefit of everyone, so this also includes an element of community-building.

These are great ideas and others outside these themes are added “just because it’s the right thing to do.”  For my favorite example of this, read this article:  Here’s What Happens to Google Employees When They Die.

 These examples may or may not work in your organization.  The most important thing to realize here is that these are largely the result of suggestion from Googlers.  And Google makes a point of trying to say yes to its Googlers.

There’s more to come on what I’m learning from this amazing company and for now, I’d love to hear your thoughts – or your ideas of what your organization is doing to increase efficiency, community and innovation.

#efficiency #community #innovation #leadership #peopleprograms #google #workrules