I recently went through a professional development class at work, and I have to say I was surprised at what I learned. Not only did I learn about new ways to improve my profession, but I learned why I do things the way I have always done them and why I keep coming across the same situations and getting the same results. One of my biggest takeaways from this class was how to deal with conflict. Let me ask you a question. When you hear the word conflict what’s the first thought that comes to your mind? I’m going to guess it’s the same as mine, which is to turn and run or just to ignore the conflict and hope it goes away. Well at least that’s the way I used to think about conflict. I want to be able to help you look at conflict a different way or at least how to handle it better. In class we read the book What to Do When Conflict Happens by Eric Harey and Steve Ventura. I must recommend this book if you have not read it yet. They teach the CALM model when dealing with conflict. This is great advice to use both at home and at work.
C – Clarify the conflict or issue that you are facing. Before you can clarify the issue, you need to take a step back or stop writing a response to an email using emotion. The first mistake is to usually react with your gut feeling or your heart. You need to stop and think about what you are going to say. After you have taken a step back to think about the issue, you have to ask yourself a few questions. Don’t point the finger at others; start by pointing the finger at yourself. Ask what you are upset about. Or look at the issue from the other person’s prospective.
A – Address the problem. The one common mistake that we make is to use technology to do this step. We would much rather send an email than make a phone call to have a discussion. This is where most of us point the finger at others which can put people on the defense. Instead ask for their cooperation to find a solution to the issue. Talk about the problem and the problem only. Talk about what the problem is exactly. Get to the point and be direct about the problem you are talking about. The most important step is to attack the problem and not the person.
L – Listen to the other side. This is where most of us go off track. Take a minute and listen to where the person is coming from. Listening is one of the biggest tools we all have, but we fail to use this tool on a daily basis. Listening can lead to the resolution alone. As you are listening take note if the person apologizes then that’s it. Just thank the person, shake their hand, and acknowledge the cooperation in the resolution. If they don’t apologize they might think that you are in the wrong. If this happens address the issue head on and communicate your side, but remember to speak with your head and not your heart.
M – Manage your way to the resolution. Not all problems are going to be solved in one sitting. Agree the problem exists and identify each other’s concerns. Explore win-win solutions to the problem. Come up with an action plan to hold each person responsible for their part and a solution to the problem.
This has helped me greatly, and I have learned that an issue can be solved by first pointing the finger at myself and not at the other person. In our society we are so fast to react and not take a second to think about how you can affect the outcome. Instead we look to put the blame on others first. The next time you face a conflict or an issue with someone, take a step back and ask what can I do to solve this problem instead of asking what was this person thinking.
Josh is an Account Manager who has been with AurStaff for almost two years. He has been married to his beautiful wife, Amanda, for 10 blessed years and he has a beautiful daughter, Leah. Josh’s family also has three rescue dogs – a border collie named Yadier, a mini Australian shepherd named Lou, and a golden retriever named Jayci. In Josh’s spare time he enjoys fishing, playing softball, and is a huge St. Louis Cardinals and Texas Longhorn fan.