By Stephanie Reynolds
Nobody loves the process of conflict resolution. If you are really going for it, it means being clear about your needs, getting in touch with your anger or frustration, communicating appropriately, and worst of all, listening to the needs, concerns and feelings of others. Yuck!! Talk about uncomfortable!
This is not typically fun stuff for leaders, or anyone else for that matter. It’s messy, and you are never quite sure how things might turn out for you, or for the relationship. Also, why do we feel so unreasonably uncomfortable during the process?
Fight or Flight
There are biological reasons for this: Helping us fight or flee, is what our brain stem is wired to do when we feel threatened. It floods us with cortisol, adrenaline and clouds our thinking. Its goal is to have us win, or get the heck out of there quickly. We have to, (and science shows we can), retrain our brains to realize that when we talk it out, speak the truth, and listen to the other’s experience and needs, good or better outcomes will follow. That’s why it takes guts; we are literally working against our primitive brain. But we can do it, with determination, practice and patience with ourselves and others.
Have the Guts to Stay Put
It’s one thing to go in there and “duke it out” or “run for the hills”, the two most common scenarios we are most familiar with in resolving conflict. It’s quite another, to go against the grain for you, and hang in there, to truly listen to the other person’s reality, try and explain yours, without defending yourself or attacking others. This takes real guts and skill, and it’s tough going for all of us. Some leaders have the willingness to go there, most do not. Most people opt out, and take what seems like the easier way, but in truth, it’s rarely the easy way, because the conflict comes around again and again, causing us long term problems and productivity issues. It can cost you discomfort and a small amount of time upfront, or lots of aggravation and tons of time later.
So next time you feel that desire to fight or flee, take a moment to ask yourself if you really have the willingness to do what will ultimately get you the better outcome. It’s tough going, but then again, you’re tough aren’t you?