Coaching Conflict: Walking in Someone Else’s Shoes
As children, we were taught to respect others and avoid conflict. However, conflict is a part of everyday living and yet we look for ways to avoid it. Conflict usually occurs when there are certain assumptions being made or unstated expectations not being met. In all the years of coaching conflict, I see the avoidance, the resistance, the emotional toll and how much energy is lost when people do not feel comfortable dealing with conflict.
Coaching conflict situations at work can create a new level of understanding and increase trust with team members. Coaching people to learn how to take the lead in a responsible way to clear up a conflict will increase your team’s performance, create a new level of understanding and increase trust with team members.
Here is a simple formula to use when coaching your team to confront conflict from a responsible position.
A Difficult Conversation Checklist
Prepare by walking through three conversations:
Conversation 1 What do you know ?
What do you know about your story of the situation, your feelings, your experience of the situation and what is at stake for you?
Conversation 2 What do you know?
What do you know about the other person’s story, their intention, their feelings, their perspective?
Before you decide to move to Conversation 3, stop and consider your purpose in having a conversation to address the conflict.
What is your purpose? Perhaps you can decide that by looking at both your perspective and theirs, you see something that you did not recognize before when you were only focused on your own story and emotions. What else can you do to let go and move on?
Conversation 3 Create a third story.
Describe the problem as the difference between your stories, including both viewpoints as a legitimate part of the discussion. Share your purpose for having this conversation and invite them to join you as a partner in sorting things out together.
When people experience you as not having your “fixed” position or agenda, they are much more willing to own a part of the problem and take responsibility in sorting it out.
Be sure to listen to understand their perspective and ask questions from a real place of inquiry and wanting to understand versus “prove it”. Share your viewpoint, your past experiences, and your positive intention.
Most of all, stay open and talk about how to keep your communication moving as you go forward.
Warmest wishes, Barbara