Tell me more – conflict transformation

Most of us want to be able to master the skill of managing conflict (conflict transformation).

Whether that is in the workplace or in the home setting, on a board or a sporting club – conflict in all its guises seems to be inevitable.

Conflict in the workplace

We’ve talked about conflict in the workplace before. About using the Let It Go model. And about how conflict it actually healthy – because it usually means diversity of thought and opinion (a good thing!)..

So, it is not conflict in and of itself which is the issue -but rather how we manage it.

And imagine – not having to manage – but to transform.

Dr Brene Brown

In her new book, Braving the Wilderness, Brene Brown interviews Dr Michelle Buck (Clinical Professor of Leadership at the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University). There’s one part of the interview that provides the simplest tool to enable transformation of conflict rather than escalation.  Its application in every imaginable setting makes it perfect as a tool to remember and easily practise.

This is an excerpt from the book and interview:

Last question! I spend most of my time preparing my argument when other people are talking. I want to be ready to “counter.” Yet I hate it when people do that to me. I can tell when someone’s not really listening. It feels terrible. How can you slow things down in the midst of conflict.

One of the most essential steps in this transformative communication, and perhaps the most courageous, is not only to be open-minded, but to listen with desire to learn more about the other person’s perspective. I believe, and tell my students, one of the most courageous things to say in an uncomfortable situation is ‘Tell me more.

Exactly when we want to turn away and change the topic, or just end the conversation, or counter, as you say, we also have the opportunity to ask what else we need to know to fully understand the other person’s perspective. 

Help me understand why this is so important to you, or help me understand why you don’t agree with a particular idea. 

And then we have to listen. Really listen. Listen to understand, not about agreeing or disagreeing. We have to listen to understand the same way we want to be understood.

Listen to understand

So simple. Listen to understand. Not to agree or disagree. We have to listen the same way we want to be understood.

Why is it that we expect a different standard from other people than that which we are prepared to accord other people?

So, if there is conflict in your workplace – see if using those three little words – tell me more – makes a difference.

Want more?

If you would like to discuss how I could help you look at your leadership, get in touch.

And if you’re still hungry for more you can find my leadership book here which has some great resources on conflict transformation.

Until next week, happy leading.

With thanks to Brene Brown and Dr Michelle Buck for the use of the quotation.

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Tammy Tansley
I am a coffee loving, energetic human who loves words, bright colours and spots, silly t'shirts and good champagne. Mum to two beautiful mischiefs. Long time wanderer around the world. Author. Blogger. Speaker.
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