Megan is a direct sales leader in the cosmetic industry who has been building her business for 20 years.
Conflict Is Inevitable
Sooner or later it will happen. That moment of tension between you and a business associate. It could be a goal that was missed, a task not completed, etc. There will be a moment where words seem to escape you. Do I say something or remain silent for now? It can be tough to navigate the uncertain waters of leadership. Here are a few considerations to think about when crossing this bridge.
Communication: The Foundation
During my 20-year career in direct sales, I have matured a great deal and learned even more. To be the leader I have become, I had to listen to those with more experience and success. I also gained knowledge from those I recruited. Although I was the trainer, they taught me a lot about myself and about human nature. One of the most important lessons I have learned is communication skills are your greatest resource. Here are a few principles that I find are critical to healthy communication in my business:
- Listen. Mary Kay Ash, a hugely successful direct sales entrepreneur once said, "You have two ears and one mouth for a reason. Listen twice as much". Reflect back what you hear to ensure accuracy.
- Don't react immediately. Take at least 24 hours to respond to an emotional message or conversation. Acknowledge the call, but take your time to process.
- Be kind. Everyone has their own struggle. They may not be part of your progress forward but they are part of your present. Speak kind words to them.
- Place suggestions for growth between areas of strength. It will be received is a better way and build them up.
Each person has many qualities that make their personality unique. They will have some traits in a higher amount, making these their more dominant characteristics. I have found that identifying what these are and how they affect their work behavior is critical to leading them well.
There are a number of personality tests that offer insight. In my organization, I use the DISC assessment tool. According to Wikipedia, "DISC is a behavior assessment tool based on the DISC theory of psychologist William Moulton Marston, which centers on four different behavioral traits: dominance, inducement, submission, and compliance. This theory was then developed into a behavioral assessment tool by industrial psychologist Walter Vernon Clarke." I have found that the DISC assessment provides valuable, easy to understand information that helps me quickly identify my new recruit and/or a new client's needs.
According to Wikepedia, "DISC is a behavior assessment tool based on the DISC theory of psychologist William Moulton Marston, which centers on four different behavioral traits: dominance, inducement, submission, and compliance. This theory was then developed into a behavioral assessment tool by industrial psychologist Walter Vernon Clarke."
What is a triggering event? Often the trigger is more telling than the ensuing behavior. What occurs that creates animosity or conflict for this individual with you? Sometimes it can be an obvious exchange, other times it is a total unknown. Often, the anxiety and frustration may come as a surprise. Bottom line . . . they are feeling a lack of understanding. This may be due to a lack of communication or even a fear of communicating these emotions. Regardless, my goal is to bring the divide together and connect those dots. Asking questions, reflecting back what I hear, and using a calm, measured tone are all important parts of a successful conversation.
Sometimes, I have been the frustrated party . . . the trigger may be within me. A frustration with undesirable behavior or it may be that the person is not respectful of my time and experience. While they do not work for me and I am not their employer, it is simply polite and good form to show respect in the mentor relationship. My solution was to answer questions directly and calmly but to pivot. The lack of true productivity with this individual meant that there was simply no value left. My hope is that will change, but without activity and respect, I must move on.
3 Steps to Successful Conflict Resolution
So you have identified who she is and might even understand she has developed the emotions she is feeling. How do you resolve the issue and move forward? Here is what I have found works best:
1. Feel: Establish that you understand how she feels and honor those emotions.
"Susan, what I hear is that you are feeling frustrated with the amount of communication we have currently and I am glad you are sharing that with me.
2. Felt: Establish a similar mindset.
"Although no two situations are the same, I can remember a time I felt frustrated and brought my concerns forward. I am glad you felt you could talk about this with me.
3. Found: Share a solution.
"In my experience, what I found was that honest, open dialogue about what expectations we both had was a huge help. Once we established a schedule for communication, both of us knew what to expect and when to anticipate a call. what are your thoughts about this?"
Finding the Middle Ground
Everyone wants to be understood . . . to be connected and at peace. I truly believe this. If they feel this, they will thrive and grow in confidence, developing into powerful leaders in your organization.
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.
Megan Swope (author) from USA on February 06, 2018:
Thank you! Its a work in progress. I learn more every day.
Mary Norton from Ontario, Canada on February 06, 2018:
Looks like a good methodology and with your wisdom, you made it work.