4 Step Framework to Rapid Conflict Resolution

If you have a conflict, you have a project! I wish I could tell you I was a master at complaint resolution and conflict management . What I can tell you is that I simply allow it to exist and instead of allowing it to go on for days or weeks, I work to remedy it in hours or minutes.

Before we get into the nuts and bolts of how to remedy, it is important to be present to two key concepts.

  1. Check your ego.  Before saying the first word, get curious about what emotion you are experiencing.  Be specific.  Then, work to find the root.  What specifically is the cause of the emotion?
  2. Untangle.  Be clear about what is yours and what is theirs.  If you are able to be clear about where you are at cause and accept full responsibility for your part, it makes it much easier to let them accept theirs.

You don’t have to take my word for it, but it benefits everyone when conflict is acknowledged and resolved quickly. But, how do we do that with ease?

  1. Isolate the Situation.  When addressing an issue, address the event, not the person.
  2. Determine the impact.  What is the cost if this doesn’t get resolved?  If two weeks went by without a resolution, would the situation worsen or remedy? 
  3. Set my desired outcome.  Before beginning any conversation, be clear about what you would like to have happen. If the answer involves any “them” or “you” statement, go back to the drawing board about what I want.
  4. Take Action.  Not a hundred actions, just one- or maybe two.  This isn’t about what someone else needs to do, it's about what I need to take responsibility for.

By simply saying “What’s mine is mine and what’s yours is yours”,  we can completely change the context of the outcome. What’s your best tip for resolving conflict?

It’s not them, its you

Have you ever found yourself in a position as an entrepreneur where you knew a divorce was coming? Irreconcilable Differences, right? It may feel like the same problem continues to surface time and time again, or it may be that new problems with the same person continue to pop up.

Think to your most recent conflict- further up the food chain the better (key employee, manager, executive, co-founder, equity holder, board member). When asked about these challenging situations, many entrepreneurs do a decent job of describing a situation but add a healthy dose of “they” language.

There is rarely language that says “I am accountable for”, “I am at fault for”, "I haven’t taken enough action”When that language is used it is often followed by a giant “but,”Think about it.  Can you see yourself using language like “I am sure I could have acted more ethically, but _______” or “ I am sure I could have taken a more proactive approach, but _______”If I were to ask you where you are at fault, what part would you accept?  Minor, Major or Whole?

The most powerful way to be in all of business is simply….Responsible.

Fully at cause, accepting total responsibility for all things that happen TO you, because you created them and brought them into life.

My Worst Business Break Up

The details of this story are still bound by a non-disclosure statement, so there will be some details that are omitted. Short story is my first investment opportunity came into a new company that had a great concept, product, roadmap and most importantly leadership team.

As I sat in Washington, DC with the current CEO he described to me a vision of the future that involved expansion into a new market. The conversation included discussions about what my role would be- advisor, investor, contributor, CEO?

In the initial outset it involved more of a joint venture model with multiple collaborators but ended up with me taking a CEO role as a subsidiary of his company. Fast forward three years- he was out as the CEO and the “new guy” was not my cup of tea.

Here’s where the road gets tough.  Conflict began to arise monthly, then weekly, then daily. We were equals in the organization which meant neither had power or decision making authority over the other, which reverted into straight peer leadership.

Here’s where the long story gets short…I knew it was coming to an end, I just didn’t know how or when. Aside from the anxiety and stress of the situation was a complete awareness of fear and scarcity.

Moral of the story is that it took 6 months to do a breakup that should have taken 6 hours or 6 days. I would much prefer conversation and conflict resolution instead of the breakup. But there is immense power in knowing when you need to cut the cord.


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