by Deborah Gilbert-Rogers*
In a previous blog post, I introduced you to some of the concepts I learned from a webinar with communications and leadership expert Alan Cohen. Alan has worked with BurrellesLuce on a number of complimentary webinars, including “Those Difficult Talks for PR Pros – Finding Your MoJo in Delicate Discussionssm.” (Available free on-demand on the BurrellesLuce Website.)
In his latest, through his Acts of Balance Coaching practice, he tackled “The Conflict Diet: 5 Ways to Reduce Unwanted Conflict From Your Life.”
During the webinar Alan gave the audience three different scenarios with options on how each of the modes might address each of the situations. I was surprised to learn that all of my “gut responses” landed in the “collaborating” category, while my second choice was typically to “accommodate,” or simply “avoid” the situation all together.
Just after the webinar I found myself in the middle of a conflict that had been building for some time, but that I had been avoiding - in part because I wasn’t sure a conflict even existed and also to please the other parties and keep the peace just in case one did. Armed with new knowledge from Alan’s webinar, I decided to simply observe my interactions during said conflict. After some honest reflection, I began to see a cycle emerge.
Initially, I choose to “avoid” the subject, only to later be thrown a curve where I was forced to address the conflict. Quickly I moved in to “compete” mode after not having my own needs addressed for some time. Then I found myself reverting back to the natural tendency to “collaborate” because I could clearly see both sides of the conflict and wanted everyone’s needs to be addressed. As the issue grew more tiresome I downgraded to “compromise,” only to lose resolve and “accommodate.” While a resolution was eventually reached, I still have some lingering doubts – even weeks later – and find myself mulling over the issue and not completed satisfied with the outcome. Was I really always that accommodating and, as Alan describes, a people-pleaser?
Soon I began to reflect on other conflicts where the outcome had left me feeling less than satisfied. I found that the tendency to collaborate only to eventually yield (accommodate) happened more often than not, usually when I received push back to the point where the conflict grew tiresome and it was more likely to happen when communication was impersonal (e.g, via phone, text, email, etc). In fact, in the most recent conflict, I came to realize that accommodating actually had given way to compliancy (and had for some time) to the extent that it was beginning to affect other areas of my life. What an eye opener!
So what is a savvy, self-aware professional to do? Alan suggests D.I.E.T.S to help eliminate conflict and see more of the resolutions you want.
1. Detect your feelings. If our peace is disturbed, or we find ourselves obsessing – these feelings signal that there is something wrong and we need to stop and examine what it is. Alan reminds us that thoughts create our feelings. Our feelings create our actions and results. By identifying feelings we can identify the thoughts that are driving them and make changes.
2. Identify the feelings of others. Emotionally Intelligent people understand their own emotions and better understand where other people are coming from. Though we can’t read minds, we can tap into our intuition – our gut feelings – and read the body language of the people with whom we are in conflict.
3. Evaluate the situation. What are the facts of the situation? What are other interpretations of the situation? Once we evaluate we need to decide how to proceed based on the situation, the value we place on the relationship, and where we see things going in the future.
4. Try a course of action. Each mode of conflict resolution has its own set of skills. However, there are core skills common to all, including active listening, clarifying, and validation.
5. Study the outcome and commit to improve. Once we’ve entered and done our best to resolve the conflict, look at what worked and didn’t work and examine what we want to do to guarantee future success.
How are you managing conflict? What other tips can you suggest to Fresh Ideas readers?
Bio: After graduating from Rider University, where she received a B.A. in English-writing and minor degrees in Gender Studies and French, Deborah joined the BurrellesLuce Marketing team in 2007. As a marketing specialist she continues to help develop the company’s thought leadership and social media efforts, including the copywriting and editing of day-to-day marketing initiatives and management of the BurrellesLuce Fresh Ideas blog. Facebook: BurrellesLuce Twitter: @BurrellesLuce LinkedIn: dgrogers