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  • Writer's pictureMichelle Caldwell

Conflict? No drama.

We've all been there. There is a person in the office that you just can't seem to agree with, who always seems to disagree with all of your suggestions, or shut you down when you're in a meeting trying to give feedback.

When you're directly involved in conflict, it's important to understand how to separate the person from the behaviour.

It's easy to fall into the trap of labelling people based on our observations. Maybe there's an office 'gossip' or 'chronic multitasker'. But it's only when you label the behaviour as difficult that you can work through conflict - after all behaviours can change.

Let's Dig In

As yourself these three questions to get beneath the surface of the conflict:

To identify the behaviour you're struggling with:

What did the person do to annoy you?

To find alternative perspectives on the situation:

What were they trying to achieve?

To reflect on their delivery:

How could they have made their intention clearer?

So what's the best way to move forward? Flip your frustration on its head.

We know that labels are easy to put on others. Keep that in check by asking yourself how you can explain the behaviour differently.

For example:

* Instead of labelling them as stubborn, couldn't you also label them as committed?

* Instead of aggressive, couldn't they also be motivated or passionate?

Why not try using this framework in a 1-on-1 with the person you're in conflict with and see how you go:

  1. Idenfify their intention

  2. Make your request

  3. Offer help

Something like this:

"I appreciate you were trying to {their intention}. What would help me is if you... {your request}. How can I help you.... {offer}?

For example:

"When you commented on my marketing plan, I appreciated you wanting to make sure our team meets their objectives. It would help me if you wait for my go-ahead before taking a look at it. How can I help this happen?"

The ideal end-result of any conflict would be for all parties to walk away with something valuable, and of course for everyone to feel valued and not dismissed or unappreciated.

But in order to get there, we need to do some internal training first. Digging into the issue, flipping frustration on its head, and sharing your reflections will help you move towards meaningful resolution.

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