This is the second of a two part blog on getting conflict right. This one is for you if you’ve been accused of being aggressive or a bully. If you wouldn’t hurt a fly, read the first in the series on how to overcome your conflict avoidant tendencies–it’s here.
Most people struggle to find that magical spot that I call Productive Conflict. Sometimes the balance tips toward conflict that’s too aggressive and too personal. If you are disagreeing with people instead of with ideas, you’re creating unproductive conflict. If you’re raising your voice and asserting your point over others, that’s unproductive too. Here are a few things to try the next time you disagree…
If you make conflict aversive for others…
1. Change your mindset:
Remind yourself that disagreements and diversity of thought should be about the issue, not about the person. Focus on making the solution better, not on attacking the person who proposed it. Adopt this mantra: “I must improve the idea without disrespecting my teammate.”
2. Introduce new ideas indirectly:
If you usually state your concerns as the absolute truth, use less direct approaches. Instead of telling your teammate that having a sale is a “stupid idea,” ask a question “How might we drive up sales without cutting prices?”
3. Add a new truth:
Get away from right and wrong and start seeing a little more complexity in the world. Try agreeing with a teammate and then adding another truth. “I agree that we need a fast way to drive up sales in the fourth quarter. I also think we need to maintain our margins. How do we get a quick hit on the top line without sacrificing pricing?” I’m a big proponent of talking about the Two Truths of every argument.
4. Open yourself up to feedback
Conflict is really unproductive when the person who dishes it out can’t take it. Make sure your teammates know that you are open to hearing their ideas and concerns. “I’m advocating pretty hard for my point of view, I need you guys to help me see what I’m missing.”
If you are an aggressive and overpowering force on your team, you’re going to stifle the kind of Productive conflict that can move your team forward. More listening, less judging; start fighting a good fight.
Did you notice? If you read my post on conflict avoidant issues, did you notice that the tips here are exactly the same? How can that be? It’s because there is a repeatable formula for having Productive Conflict. It works for everyone. Give it a try on your team today!