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Tips for Becoming Conflict Competent

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Chad has a phenomenal team, however as of lately, he feels as if the team is falling apart. The team’s last meeting was filled with negative comments, finger pointing, and thunderous voices. Chad just wanted to get up and hide in his office until the storm cleared.

Chad is obviously very observant and has been following my discussions on stages of team development. He is in the "ugly middle" or the "storming" stage, and as uncomfortable as it is for Chad, it's a necessary stage to go through in order to get to the sweet spot. There are 3 more stages that I call norming, performing and eventually transforming into the dream team you desire. Just like learning to run, you have crawl and walk before you can run. Here are some tips to move your team forward when they begin “storming.

The essence of storming is to stay steady and calm, explore your part in the conflict equation, and ask lots of accountability questions, for example:

  • What do we want as an outcome of this disagreement?
  • What can I say or ask that will move this discussion forward?
  • What is my tendency when there is conflict and how can I respond in a proactive manner, not a reactive manner?

Our tendency is to almost listen and have our answers ready before the other has even completed their first sentence. The ability to engage in dialogue is critical for contemporary leaders and has the capacity to short-circuit disputes and increase creative communications.

Actually think the words “open-ended” in your mind as you begin your first sentence. Choose from What, Where, How, When, or Why as your first word. Beginning this way makes it impossible to answer with a simple yes or no. Give this method a shot. You will be pleasantly surprised to find responses that have more depth and leave more room for innovative next thoughts. There are fewer tendencies to become battle ready and to defend a position. Pay attention to the type of information you gather as you ask and listen differently. It is most often kinder, more helpful and more useful.

Dialogue is a complex yet vitally important tactic to utilize at work. I believe my video will help, and maybe you and your team can watch it together and have a discussion on how the team can all handle conflict together, without anyone running to hide.

Hopefully, like Chad, you can move from Conflict Coward to Conflict Competent.

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