Look for Reasons — Not for Fights

Today is Friday, so this post is on interpersonal competence.

I was listening to my iPod on the plane the other day.  I had it on party shuffle.  Playing in the Band by the Grateful Dead came on.  I’m not a Dead Head by any means, but I do like some of their music.  Playing in the Band is one of about 10 Dead songs I have on my iPod.

But I digress.  There is a great quote that relates directly to interpersonal competence in Playing in the Band… 

“Some folks look for reasons, others look for fights.”

As you recall, interpersonally competent people have three things in common.

  • Interpersonally competent people know themselves.
  • Interpersonally competent people build strong, lasting mutually beneficial relationships with the people around them.
  • Interpersonally competent people resolve conflict in a positive manner.

That’s where the quote from Playing in the Band comes in.  Look for reasons, not fights.  There is plenty of opportunity to fight in this world.  But as the bumper sticker I saw the other day said “conflict is inevitable, violence is not”. 

I realize that most workplace conflicts don’t escalate to the point of violence, a lot of workplace conflict ends up in unproductive bickering.  However, if you look for reasons, not fights, you can avoid unproductive bickering and turf wars.

My first rule of dealing with conflict constructively – focus on where you agree, not where you disagree.  When you focus on where you disagree, you tend to get into positional bargaining — defending your position and not giving up anything without getting something in return. 

When you focus on where you agree, you avoid positional bargaining because you are operating from a place of mutual agreement.  Also, you put yourself in a better place to understand the other person and the reasons for his or her position.  When you do this, you tend to get creative in working out your differences.  By building on the points where you agree, you will find it easier to come up with a solution that meets your needs and the needs of the other person.  As the Dead would say – this is looking for reasons, not fights.

The common sense point here – interpersonally competent people look for reasons  — and solutions — not fights.

That’s it for today.  Thanks for reading.  Log on to my website www.BudBilanich.com for more common sense.  Check out my other blog: www.CommonSenseGuy.com for common sense advice on leading people and running a small business.

I’ll see you around the web, and at Alex’s Lemonade Stand.

Bud

PS: Speaking of Alex’s Lemonade Stand – my fundraising page is still open.  Please go to www.FirstGiving.com/TheCommonSenseGuy to read Alex’s inspiring story and to donate if you can.

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