Conflict is a natural result of working with others.
Let’s face it – we are all different, and if you’re in business it’s inevitable. It doesn’t really matter how long you’ve been in business, eventually you’re going to run into conflict… It’s part of the human experience, and depending on your upbringing can certainly arouse strong emotions.
Some people really struggle with conflict. It can derail deadlines, interrupt interpersonal relationships, and be very challenging. Typically we learn our communication patterns in our families of origin, where our parental communication patterns are ‘thrown’ to us by example. If you struggle with conflict, it doesn’t mean you are destined for failure. Change is always possible, as long as you are willing. Read and learn.
As moms we are good at managing and coaching our kids through conflict (aren’t we??). There are many ways of dealing with conflict, of course, and we all have our preferences.
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There are five typical conflict personas with their typical conflict game faces:
- The Avoider – Some of us tend to avoid conflict at all costs, (often at our own expense.)
- The Fighter – While others may even become aggressive enough to damage relationships and our reputation in the process.
- The Accommodater – Still others tend to always accommodate, often failing to meet their own needs.
- The Harmonizer – A close cousin of the Accommodater, and sometime disguised as the Avoider, the Harmonizer seeks to make everyone happy, and oft forget her own needs in the process.
- The Facilitator – This is the person who works for a meaningful and amenable compromise for most situations. The facilitator tries hard to be sure everyone is heard, and ‘holds the space’ for the conflict to naturally play out and lead to what needs to shift.
So, what does conflict have to do with being a mompreneur? Since conflict is natural, we need to prepare ourselves for it, and work on the most efficient ways to get through conflicts as they arise. Here are some tips to help:
Conflict is not bad…
First, it’s important to accept that conflict is not bad rather, it is a natural occurrence. Conflict is an integral part of life, nature and of course, the human experience. By front-loading every conflict with a negative connotation, it makes it difficult for anyone to use it as an indicator for change.
Best Practice: Change your thoughts about conflict. – Instead of saying ‘conflict is bad’ simply drop the last word – and stay at ‘conflict is…’ – this will help you unload your internal mindset and judgement about it – leaving the evaluation off the statement will help you see it rather as an adventure, with an unknown outcome…then strap yourself in for the ride!
How You Manage Conflict Matters
If conflict is not inherently bad, it then focuses on your response. And, we all have 100% ownership over how we respond to everything in our lives. So, then it’s how we manage conflict that makes the difference.
Selecting the best approach to managing conflict depends on the situation, and of course, your capabilities and willingness to stay ‘at the table’ or ‘in the game’.
Do you struggle with ‘getting off it’? Do you tend to ruminate and stew when things don’t go your way? Do you struggle with control? Do you have a hard time with negativity? How do you approach people with whom you generally disagree or have ‘personality conflicts’.
Examining your typical behaviors may lead to some valuable insights to help you grow and better manage conflict. If you don’t know (or are not aware), ask friends and family with whom you have solid, trusting relationships for their opinion and experience of you. Set the stage by saying that you’re working on this, to make it safe for for them to give you feedback.
Consider Your Timing
There are times when conflict is best avoided temporarily to allow the dust to settle. If the conflict is experienced during a period of transition or high stress – you may need some time to just let emotions calm down. Then, of course – there are other times when you may need to become more assertive and directly handle matters!
Communicate & Compromise
Conflict always points to something that is missing for one or all of those involved. When expectations are missed, promises are forgotten and deadlines are not met – there are usually reasons. So, even when tensions are high, the only real route through is by turning up your communication. When possible, you can collaborate to resolve the situation. And sometimes it’s best to compromise (give a little, get a little), accommodate (give up something) or there may be times to totally acquiesce (especially if you know you are wrong, or if it really doesn’t matter much).
The best result of conflict is the win-win, Getting-to-Yes, collaborative approach to resolving conflict. When we are at our best, we flex, stretch ourselves and demonstrate a high degree of versatility.
When you’re out of your comfort zone, it can be (very) challenging to adapt your approach to the unique circumstances of the situation. Conflict is addressed effectively, with an eye on both the head and the heart of the matter.
Approaching conflict in a healthy, balanced manner allows you to get your own needs met, avoid damaging other’s self esteem, and ultimately supports the long-term goal of healthier relationships without giving up on our own needs. Proactively and consciously identifying your approach and path to managing conflict is an authentic and powerful first step.
What is your typical Conflict Persona from the list above? What have you learned here that you can apply to your business? Please share your thoughts and challenges with conflict in the discussion below.