There’s arguing, listening, situational awareness and all the drama of a street fight.
Read on to learn more about authenticity, transparency and how people can actually conflict in a constructive way.
1. I Can See Right Through You: In this short article, Janet Louise Stephenson offers definitions for three characteristics of great Change Agents: “transparency”, “authenticity” and accountability”.
Even when we think we’re “being real”, she suggests that we might be covering up our true needs and perspectives. She argues that once we consider the amount of social conditioning everyone goes through, our knee-jerk responses may not be as authentic as we think!
2. How to Really Understand Someone: I enjoyed this piece on interpersonal dialogue by Mark Goulston and John Ullmen. Harvard Business Review posted their article as a part of a running series on “High Impact Influencers”.
The premise of their work is that we can get beyond the superficial layers of conversation and get into some real dialogue if we patiently consider the human/social process of connecting. In this third of four steps along that process, the authors suggest that there are three layers of awareness that really sum up the path to truly understanding someone:
- Situational Awareness: Show the other person(s) that you “Get It” and see the larger context for the dialogue.
- Personal Awareness: Demonstrate that you “Get Them” and understand their personal needs, frame of reference and limitations.
- Solution Awareness: Show that you understand their approach to solving the problem at hand… you “buy in” to at least part of their logic.
I recommend the entire series so click around the links once you get there.
3. Conflict is Good – So Let’s Fight! Only kidding. Finally, I ran across an article this morning about how effective teams actually encourage a degree of conflict. They reach higher levels of interaction by letting things flare up a little from time to time. Once the juices get flowing, they enter into a stage of beneficial “sharpening” of ideas through worthwhile criticism. Lisa Kohn of Chatsworth Consulting Group suggests that there are 5 ways to improve how we conflict:
a. Remember What We Really Want: I’ve always believed that it’s hard to get what you want if you haven’t honestly described a perfect outcome. You can always work toward a compromise postion if you know the basics of what you need in order to be satisfied. But it’s hard to reach contentment ina conflict situation if you don’t clearly capture what would make you happy.
c. …But Not Too Far Back: Stay engaged. It can be dangerous to appear disinterested or unwilling to stand up for your opinion.
d. Get Into Their Shoes: listen to their side with a goal of truly understanding where they are coming from. We can all learn a bit from listening, right?
e. Get on the Same Side (of the problem) Look for common ground related to solving the problem – not making sure the right person takes the blame, etc.
That’s a Wrap: As long as humans need to interact in group settings, there will be conflict and a need for better problem-solving interactions. We have all seen what happens when we are left to our own devices to figure out how to reconcile competing interests, and the results are typically not that good. So check out these articles and keep sending your ideas for future posts here on theBigRocks.
Questions for Chatter:
- Have you ever been the victim of someone refusing to even try to understand your position? What did you learn from that interaction?
- Describe the best facilitation of conflict you’ve ever witnessed. What techniques might you be able to add to your toolkit from that experience?