It was silly; grown adults yelling and screaming at an umpire for a bad call…at a tee-ball game.
Why? Why do we lose our minds and create conflict?
Conflict is literally to strike together.
Think about metal grinding together…conflict…sparks…explosion.
We are people with emotions. We are people with opinions. We are people with varying perspectives, world-views, tendencies, and biases.
It is only logical then if you put two people together in an emotional situation where opinions can be expressed, or biases can surface; explosion may not be far behind.
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My first manager at Pfizer Skip Clarkson used to say, “speak to people the way they wish to be spoken to.”
That mindset is our foundational rally cry when discussing the importance and power of the DISC profile. Understanding where a person is on the DISC graph gives you incredible empathy and intelligence when having the right conversations with the right people.
It is not our nature to think about another person when responding or reacting to a situation. We are bent to be me-first thinkers. What is in it for me? What does this mean for me?
It is not surprising that when two, me-first people connect, an explosion is imminent.
But what happens when explosion is the outcome? What happens when the tension of conflict gets red hot. How do we cool that tension, and repair any fractures or brokenness that come?
We always say, life and business necessarily intersect. You can’t have something happen at work and then successfully “leave it at work” in the same way that home-things follow you straight to work.
John Ussery, who oversees business development at Shoreline Construction in South Carolina, said this recently in one of our coaching meetings, “You can’t change someone’s mind. But you can build rapport, offer empathy, and give them new information so they can change their own mind.”
In other words, the goal is not to try harder, yell louder, talk faster, cry harder, withdraw sooner, or demand more for less.
Instead, your goal is to be a stage-builder.
Stage-builders set a stage for which others have the opportunity to perform.
Stage-builders get very specific instructions from the performers quietly and behind the scenes so they can create the right atmosphere for the show to wow the crowd.
It is impossible for the stage-builder to win if the performer does not win. But if the performer wins, the stage-builder automatically wins every time.
The entire goal of a stage-builder is to, again as Ussery put it, “de-escalate a combustible scenario.” In other words, set the stage so the performer is in position to wow the crowd…then we all win.
In conflict resolution, being right is not the goal, instead, setting the right stage is the aim.
There are four tools to discover that we will equip you with to stock your emotional and relational toolbelt that will allow you to minimize the pain and discomfort of conflict, and instead build relationships that bring mutual joy and value.
The first of these four tools is listening.
Chris Voss in his book Never Split The Difference says, “it all starts with the universally applicable premise that people want to be understood and accepted. Listening is the cheapest, yet most effective concession we can make to get there.”
Listening is discovering, finding out new bits of insight, information, and perspective.
Listening is not thinking while the other person is talking and missing everything they are saying or having your arms crossed and eyes down like a six-year-old. Listening is not, showing apathy, having an attitude of “it’s fine”, or being selective in what you hear.
Active listening requires you to use your EARS…
- Eye contact & Nonverbal Responses
- Ask GENUINE questions
- Repeat & Drill Down (Tell me more about that…)
- Summarize With Notes
The second tool of resolving conflict is mirroring; simply repeating the last 3 to 5 words of what the other person just said.
For instance: “you really frustrated me when you cut me off in that meeting”. You respond, “I cut you off in that meeting?” They correct, “well, I felt like my point wasn’t made yet.”
Mirroring forces more details. The goal of mirroring is to allow the other person to keep talking…and talking…and talking. Many times, they don’t want to be right…they just want to know that you are listening with your EARS!!!
Voss quotes Psychologist Richard Wiseman who studied restaurant servers and found the average tip of waiters increased by 70% using mirroring versus those just using the positive reinforcement of “great”, “awesome”.
The third tool of conflict resolution is labeling allowing you to verify the emotions of another person. Voss says, “give someone’s emotion a name and you show you identify with how that person feels.”
Labeling connects you to a person much faster than traditional “get to know you” methods
Voss gives us three phrases to use in your toolbox for labeling…
1. It seems like…
2. It sounds like…
3. It looks like…
The final helpful tool to resolve conflict is simply your voice. Your voice can speed things up, or slow things down.
Remember again, rarely is a person defending the emotion they feel on the outside…but instead are instead trying to deal with the turmoil that is happening on the inside. Your goal is to dig that up. We’re not looking to put out the smoke…we want to blanket the fire.
When you are intentional about using these four tools, then you can reasonably hope for two outcomes; empathy and rapport.
Empathy is the capability of sharing someone else’s feelings, and rapport is a close harmonious relationship.
In using these four tools to resolve conflict, our goal is not to be right…but instead to speak to others the way they wish to be spoken to.
Scott Beebe is the founder of Business On Purpose, author of Let Your Business Burn: Stop Putting Out Fires, Discover Purpose, And Build A Business That Matters. Scott also hosts The Business On Purpose Podcast and can be found at mybusinessonpurpose.com.