Interpersonal competence is one of the keys to career and life success that I discuss in Straight Talk for Success and 42 Rules to Jumpstart Your Professional Success. If you want to become interpersonally competent, you need to do three things. First, get to know yourself. Use this self knowledge to better understand and communicate with others. Second, build solid long-lasting mutually beneficial relationships with the important people in your life. Third, resolve conflict positively and in a manner that enhances, rather than detracts, from your relationships.
Eric Harvey and Steve Ventura are close friends of mine. Eric is the CEO of Walk the Talk Company, and co-author of the amazing book Walk the Talk: and Get the Results You Want. Steve is a prolific writer and the editor in chief at Walk the Talk. His editing and advice have greatly improved the three books I’ve published with Walk the Talk.
A few years ago, Eric and Steve wrote a great book on conflict, What to Do When CONFLICT HAPPENS. Yesterday they did a recap of it in the Walk the Talk Company ezine, “The Leadership Solution.” This is a great ezine, you can subscribe at www.walkthetalk.com.
Here’s what Eric and Steve have to say about what to do when you find yourself in an interpersonal conflict that takes you by surprise…
Interpersonal Conflicts … When There’s No Time for Planning
It’s bound to happen. Sooner or later you’ll be caught off guard – finding yourself smack dab in the middle of an unexpected conflict with someone on your team. You’re in it before you know it, and there’s no time for formulating a well-thought-out resolution strategy. You’ve got to respond in some way, and you have to do it NOW! What do you do? How can you keep the situation from escalating and ending up some-where you DON’T want to be? Here are a few suggestions:
1. Stop, breath, and think. Stop whatever you’re doing, take a couple of deep breaths to control your tension, and then immediately (and quickly) think about exactly what you need to do and say next.
2. Acknowledge the conflict by saying something like: Michael, I’m sensing that there are some issues between the two of us that we need to talk through, or, Kim, I’m feeling that I might have done something to upset you. Can we talk about it?
3. Buy some time. Suggest that you meet at a later time that day (or the following day) so that you both have an opportunity to relax a little and gather your thoughts. If the other person agrees, use the time to prepare for the meeting. If the person doesn’t agree on a time delay …
4. Take it somewhere else (if other coworkers are present). That way, you’ll avoid disrupting the rest of the group – and you’ll eliminate any temptations you and the other person might have to “showboat” or maintain some bogus image in front of your teammates. Suggest a different venue with words such as: It’s best for everyone if we keep this just between us. Where else would you feel comfortable talking?
5. Keep it respectful. Do your absolute best to conduct yourself in a calm and respectful manner – regardless of how the other person responds. Will it be easy? Of course not! But that doesn’t change the fact that although you can’t control what others do, you certainly can (and do) control your own behavior.
The common sense point here is simple. Successful people are interpersonally competent. Interpersonally competent people resolve conflict in a manner that enhances, not detracts, from their relationships. Focusing on where you agree with the other person is always a good place to begin when you find yourself in a conflict situation. Eric Harvey and Steve Ventura’s advice – 1) stop, breathe and think; 2) acknowledge the conflict; 3) buy some time; 4) take it somewhere else (when others are present); and 5) keep it respectful – are great next steps.
That’s my take on conflict resolution and success. What’s yours? Please leave a comment sharing your thoughts with us. As always, thanks for reading.