Let’s face it: If you have more than two people in a room tasked to accomplish something, you have the possibility of conflict - different ideas, personalities, “conflict hooks” all bouncing against each other. You as the leader are responsible for ensuring a positive exchange and productive outcome. You set the example in your behavior which will lean your group either to resistance (read: unproductive conflict) or to cooperation (mastering the positive, innovative power of conflict).
Resistance or Cooperation?
Here are 10 behaviors that elicit cooperation and allow positive, healthy, productive conflict to happen.
1. Using "I" statements rather than "you" statements.
Example: "I want to respond to your questions, but I need some time to calm down first."
2. Conveying that you have been listening attentively.
Example: "It sounds like your biggest concern is [ ]. Is that right?"
3. Making "appropriate" eye contact. (Note: This one is culturally-dependent. It is essential for the recipient to feel comfortable.)
4. Expressing a desire to see both parties get as much of what they want as possible from the exchange.
Example: "I'd like to see both of us walk out of here happy."
5. Acknowledging responsibility for part of the problem whenever possible.
Example: "You know, I hadn't seen it before, but I think I did make some mistakes in the way I approached you."
6. Acknowledging the other party's perceptions whenever possible.
Example: "I haven't considered this matter from that perspective before, but I think I can see how it looked to you."
7. Identifying areas of agreement with the other party whenever possible - especially if he/she does not recognize that such areas of agreement exist.
Example: "You know, I agree with you that we ought to make time management more of a priority for our office in the future."
8. Allowing the other party to "let off steam." (Note: this requires extreme self-control, but if the other party has not expressed him/herself previously, this can be very valuable.)
9. Avoiding assumptions.
Example: "Could you help me understand why having these specific days off is important to you?"
10. Indicating that the other party has value and merit to their position.
Example: "You are absolutely right about that."
You can see that in employing these small “tweaks” to the way you communicate, you haven’t compromised your authority, power or point of view; rather you have created an open space for your people to feel heard, respected, and to take an active part in the process and solutions that you all want to see happen.
How is your team doing in terms of cooperation? In what ways are you experiencing resistance in any of your group members? Share your answers in the comments below. These situations sometimes need an impartial, expert facilitation. To talk about what that looks like, please schedule a conversation with us here.