Sunday, 26 March 2017

Conflict Leadership, Not Management

An Individual is Plural is a short post on my attempt on getting a point across as to why people are so complicated. If you have not read that post, I recommend you do before going any further. There is just so much going on inside each one of us that working with people can be an uphill task for most.

If your work involves working with people - partnership, networking, coaching or leading - managing your conflicts is without doubt the most important skill that people must muster - no matter what your professional domain. This becomes the very basic skill set required for the job. It can be a make or break for your career, dreams and aspirations. Take it seriously and maintain a good humor, a positive outlook

It is a lot easier to change yourself than it is to change another person. My approach to conflict management is not to manage the other person or the situation at large. Instead, with my 5 points below, it is to try and recast yourself and your perception of the situation. Which would then in-turn change your attitude and your behavior towards the case. The idea is not to manage the situation but to lead the situation away from unproductive talks to productivity talks. And in conflicts, it only takes one person to lead and break the cycle. Be that person.

Be the leader to break the cycle
Things you should realize -
  1. Give yourself the benefit of doubt of not knowing it all - be humble. Ask other people for their opinion and respect it.
  2. Give some breathing room to the other person. If you are not getting the right attitude, may be the person is not having a good day. Respect that. End the meeting on a good note, and postpone it to another date.
  3. Be an external observer - this needs practice. Learn to observe a situation outside of your 'self'. This will give you a unique view of the situation that will put things into better perspective.
  4. If someone verbally attacks you, do not react. You can make things a lot worse by just reacting. This is where you start talking less, and listening more. It does not matter whether you agree or disagree. Learn to listen without feeling the need to pass a judgement. If someone is getting aggressive it means they feel hurt and you ought to listen and sympathies.
  5. Never Ever blame the person. The conversations you have should always be in the tone of blaming the situation or the process. This takes the stress away from the other person and they will be less defensive. Once the defenses are down, its all about working as one team. This is truly an art to master.
When a ship enters a storm, it did not deliberately set course for the storm. But yet now it is in the middle of a hurricane. Now, when in the hurricane, the captain needs to lead the ship to safety. Not by battling it head on but by calmly leading the crew to the right course and navigating it out of the danger.

I do often argue, the captain should have ensured the ship never got caught in the hurricane in the first place!

- Anant Agnihotri