Business is full of opportunities for conflict. Working through issues with customers, suppliers or co-workers can easily end in the wrong way. Often times the quick reaction is to lash out and attack. In a business climate that has been downsized and given more responsibility, many people don’t have the patience or the time to resolve issues so they head straight to conflict.
That doesn’t have to be the way. John Quelch, a Harvard Business Review writer, recently wrote on this topic. He covers five steps to work through conflict. He begins with the concept of “Frame Your Argument” which means don’t begin with attacking – begin withexplaining. Sometimes there are misunderstandings and they can be solved with discussion.
In our work with customers and fast delivery dates, it is easy to have conflict internally and externally. We find that if we begin the discussion with asking the other person for his/her desires, more often than not we can solve the issue without any conflict.
Secondly, he says to “Propose a Resolution” which helps move the difficulty forward. This puts the focus on the problem and not on the person.
The third point from the blog is to “Show Respect” which shows the other person that s/he is important to you and worthy of respect. It’s hard for someone to attack when they are being respected. Fourth, he says to “Keep Your Cool” which again shows the other person they are being treated well.
Only when these four techniques don’t work does the author say to “Escalate If Necessary.” Sometime it is worth it to go on the offense and push for what is right. The warning is to always save this as the last ditch effort because once this is done it is tough to turn back the clock.
Conflict is part of life and always part of doing business together. What separates winners from the others is that winners know how to successfully deal with conflict and still maintain a good relationship.