From time to time, we are faced with confronting a situation. For many, confrontation can be difficult, whether it is due to fear of the outcome or fear of hurting someone’s feelings. Let’s face it, it is much easier to let things ride and stay with the status quo than it is to bring-up a possibly unpleasant issue that needs attention. Recently a good friend was faced with a personal situation that warranted a confrontational conversation, and those feelings of dread loomed. Rarely, if ever, have you ever heard me say or employ business practices in personal matters, but in this case I think the same philosophy and principles applied. In a difficult work situation where an issue needs to be addressed, approach the conversation from the same stance of mutual respect as you would in a personal situation. Second, put yourself in the other person’s shoes before approaching the conversation and see things from their perspective, just as you would in a personal relationship. And third, no matter whether it is a business or personal confrontation, it is better to never use the word YOU. In both cases YOU statements cause others to become defensive, and elicit negative feelings.
When having a difficult conversation, being prepared with what you want to say and how you want to say it helps you facilitate the exchange, and the sooner you have the conversation the better. It is never an easy thing to do, and most of us would like nothing better than to avoid those confrontations altogether. However, avoiding is rarely the answer, and in business a direct correlation between conflict and productivity has been cited. The CPP Inc., publishers of the Myers-Briggs Assessment and the Thomas-Kilmann Conflict Mode Instrument, commissioned a study on workplace conflict. They found that in 2008, U.S. employees spent 2.8 hours per week dealing with conflict. This amounts to approximately $359 billion in paid hours (based on average hourly earnings of $17.95), or the equivalent of 385 million working days. I don’t know that we need to quantify that on a personal level, although we do have these situations in our personal lives as well as at work. In business, though, it does seems profitable to learn productive techniques and skills for effective ways to confront a situation clearly and directly. Yet, both in our personal and business lives, if we can take only one thing away from thoughts about having a confrontational conversation, let it be to respect each other in the pursuit of a solution, and leave our pride and egos aside.
Work hard, be productive, and above all else stay positive.
Pulaski County Chamber of Commerce