It’s about people working together to get things done, especially when things don’t go as planned.
The only way to win a fight with a colleague is not to have it. Beating him will get you, at best, a defeated resentful opponent.
Here are four general strategies that reduce conflicts. They don’t guarantee you will avoid them, but minimize their probability.
Should they happen, they increase your odds of resolving them constructively. They create a positive predisposition towards collaborative relationships.
If you face an arrogant attack, they will help expose its irrationality, not only to you, but also to others who might frown upon your critic's strong-arm tactics. If you face constructive criticism, they will help you and your critic turn the fight into a dance.
These strategies are not “nice” in the sense that they allow anybody to state whatever opinion they want. They are “clarifying” in the sense they eliminate the fog of war that prevents rational discussion. They are rules of engagement similar to the ones of the scientific method, which focus on reason and evidence. They take hostility out of the equation, allowing for a logical consideration of the different points of view.
In spite of your preventative actions, you may need to face an arrogant attack. It`s time to apply verbal aikido.
A Pound of Cure
If someone pushes you, what do you feel like doing?
If you push back, what does she feel like doing?
She pushes, you push back, she pushes harder, you push back harder. You are both stuck in an escalating conflict. You are wasting tremendous energy trying to overcome the other’s “resistance” while going nowhere. Talk about inefficiency!
There are three steps to transform this kind of fight into a dance. When you challenger pushes you,
If she offers you a convincing argument, you can change your mind. “Thanks for correcting my calculation”, you might say gracefully, “I made a mistake.” Or “I thought that the risks of releasing a buggy product were too high. Your data makes me think differently now.” Yes, you may lose some face if people think that proving you are right is more important than finding what is right, but as a teacher once told me, “If you want to grow, you must love the truth more than you love your face.”
If you are not convinced but see that there is room for doubt, you can explain, “My opinion has not changed, but I see that you have some valid points I need to consider. Let´s think of how we could move forward in a way that works for both of us.”
If you think the other’s objection is ungrounded, you might counter, “I don´t understand how you reach your conclusion. I see why the course of action I suggest is not convenient to you, but it still seems to me the best alternative for the company. What is the benefit for the company of releasing a beta version rather than waiting for the QA engineers to finish their job?”
These ideas are common sense, but not common practice. The difficulty is not intellectual but emotional. Like a martial art, knowing does not come from reading but from practicing. The good news is that you live in the dojo.
I have written a companion post with examples derived from challenging comments by readers.
I wonder what critical attacks you have experienced at work, and how have you responded. Let me know in your comments below.
Aikido, said its founder, is the art of reconciliation. Whoever has the mind to fight has broken his connection with the universe. If you try to dominate other people, you are already defeated. We study how to resolve conflict, not how to start it. ” Terry Dobson( Professor of Leadership and Coaching, Author of Conscious Business - by - Fred K.)