Listening to managers at an interpersonal skills workshop this week reminded me how crucial conflict negotiation is to business success.
It is inevitable that people see things differently. Different views challenge entrenched thinking and may reveal blind spots and invalid assumptions. Except when people become the source of the conflict. This is often where programmed viewpoints and behaviours cloud the issues at hand.
Information should dictate the best course of action, not people. Accessing relevant information to make decisions (and viewing it appropriately in the context of business priorities) is important for a business to function efficiently and deal with daily fluctuations and challenges to its bottom line.
Issues to consider are:
- What do the facts say?
- What does the evidence point to?
- What does our trading history/experience reveal?
- How does this align with our goals and values?
- Are our actions an example of great leadership for the many eyes upon us?
These questions put the collective good ahead of trivial spats and individual agendas.
Needing to be “right” is often at the core of conflict. If I am right, that makes someone else wrong. It is natural to react to negative judgements negatively. Simple cause-effect. Human beings are predictable in this way!
Negative judgements trap us into a perceptual position making us blind to what may be a significant portion of reality. Seeing things clearly – as they really are – is something different to the way we feel about things. The way we feel can cloud our vision – then, how useful are we really?
Snap judgements can blind us to information that may turn out to be crucial. That represents risk in a business.
In my experience, those keen to identify their blind spots are:
- Open to input from others
- Commercially valuable (for decision making and risk mitigation)
- Likely to act appropriately and execute strategy wisely
- Better able to build relationships of trust
- In touch with others and better at engagement
- Better managers and leaders
A conflict situation can teach us where blind spots are – in people and in the business. If you listen and learn, you’ll be better and the business will do better.