Defining Success in Workplace Conflict

Posted on Aug 24, 2020 in Conflict Resolution . 0 Comments.

You can define success in workplace conflict

Success in workplace conflict comes in many shapes and sizes.  Sometimes it is two people walking out from a conversation ‘holding hands’ – socially distanced of course!  Other times there is an acknowledgement and agreement to new ways of working together, and on other occasions it may be an agreement to separate without drama.  Sometimes it is something altogether different.

The anxiety of a Difficult Conversation

Recently I was assisting a leader, John, who was preparing for a really tough conversation they needed to have with their CEO.  This conversation had to happen and he was really nervous about it. The sort of nerves where you can’t sleep and you feel churned up.  Despite the ‘facts’ supporting John, he and the CEO did not have a strong relationship, and the CEO is well known to deliberately push buttons and use emotion as a weapon.

John knew exactly where this conversation was going to go and he dreaded and feared it.  Zandy and I like to say, “There is always plan”.  So, John and I took the time to prepare and plan for the conversation.  Firstly, we focused on what John could control.  Secondly, we chose to define what success in the conversation would look like.

You can choose to define success

John knew that the CEO was going to rile him up, upset him and would likely be impervious to a change of viewpoint.  So, I helped John to define what success in this conversation would look like.  John decided the following:

  • He wanted to convey his messages in a calm and not overtly emotional manner.
  • When the CEO looked to blame and to pour emotion into the conversation, John would acknowledge the concerns being raised, however, he would not enter into an emotive debate.
  • If he felt comments were personal, John was prepared to turn to the third person in the room and seek their assistance to redirect the conversation.

John had a few other strategies up his sleeve as well.  This way, John knew that he could still engage in this conversation and even if it became overly difficult, he had a plan and could walk out knowing what a successful conversation was in this context.

There is always a plan

This process of planning, controlling the controllable and setting up parameters for success, greatly reduced John’s anxiety surrounding the conversation.  John felt more in control and he knew he could have a ‘successful’ conversation, even if the CEO ramped up the emotion.

If you, those in your team or other people you support need to engage in really hard conversations we would love to assist you.  Please make contact.

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