Avoiding a difficult conversation might feel better in the short run, but it will likely come back to haunt you with unintended consequences.
The surprising costs of unaddressed conflict Avoiding reinforces behaviors, such as spending more and more energy denying the problem or creating new bottlenecks due to attempts to work around the person. And, there are other consequences to the business as a whole.
Success at avoiding conflict also means successfully stalling business growth or progress towards an exit. Not speaking, working in parallel, building up defensive routines mean that at the very time you need to be innovating, streamlining, or stopping something, you are unable to take action. You may be able to get current "work" done, but you will be unable to move forward.
Get out of a stall
Like it or not, there’s only one answer that’s effective: talk directly to the person.
While easy to write those words, it’s not risk free:
Things could go poorly.
The other person can blame you, blow up, or refuse to engage.
You may lose a relationship.
You may be branded “not nice.”
Growth requires some friction
When a butterfly comes out of its cocoon, it must struggle. If you try to shortcut the process, the butterfly will die. The conflict is necessary.
The drivers of business growth are thousands and thousands of interactions with challenge - making choices, discovering new possibilities, finding more effective ways to work together, letting go of a fondly held belief. Through that frame, you’d think everyone would be eager to engage in situations where two or more differing views were competing for the same space.
You can’t predict the other’s response, but you can set yourself up to respond to this unpredictable interchange with poise and flexibility with some very practical steps.
Step 1: Prepare Yourself
One part of any conversation is definitely under your control – yourself. Here are a few habits that enable you to field whatever comes at you and still reach your goal.
Calm down. If you are agitated, postpone the talk. You want to be able to respond, rather than react defensively..
Notice your assumptions. What are you anticipating about what is motivating the other person? Hint: whatever you think, it’s probably wrong.
The other person does not see the world the way you do. Your point of view is not rational, logical, or better, from their shoes. If you want success, you need to listen so you can uncover common ground.
Get honest about what your role. Why is this issue so important to you? How are you contributing to it persisting? Prepare to state your case. Expecting someone else to guess is a form of stonewalling
Discomfort is normal. If you feel uncomfortable, that's average. No one taught you these skills. I can help you build the skills and confidence to initiate conversations you used to avoid.
An unexpected side effect is that the more you step up, the better team you build, leading to better business results, and collaborations that fuel success.
If you’re having difficulty moving your business, contact me. I help uncover and remove barriers that keep you from getting the results you desire.