Read another article by Jason Kiesau – TRACOM Associate and member of Forbes Coaches Council – as he discusses how each Style approaches conflict differently and how you can start to lead a culture of trust and reduce conflicts that occur.
Stop Focusing on Managing Conflict and Start Focusing on Building Trust
First, let’s talk about conflict.
When you start to learn more about your SOCIAL STYLE and the Style of others, you learn that each Style has a different relationship with the concept of conflict. Half of us are “wired” to assert ourselves when there is conflict, and half of us are “wired” to avoid and withdraw when there is conflict.
People with Driving and Expressive Styles tend to be more assertive, and when their tension rises and conflict occurs, they are more likely to try to control it or confront it. So, these are people who are more willing to address conflict. But just because they address it doesn’t mean it’s going to be pretty and make things better. In fact, they will likely make things worse.
People with Amiable and Analytical Styles tend to be less assertive, and when their tension rises and conflict occurs, they are more likely to avoid, acquiesce and withdraw. They want no part of it. So, if you have beliefs and expectations that maturity, commitment and professionalism are associated with a person’s ability to deal with and/or manage conflict, you are setting you and your team members up for failure.
Second, let’s talk about trust.
Do you know when people feel comfortable addressing conflict? When they trust each other. And, the only way people are going to trust each other is when their needs are met, when they are comfortable with each other and when they feel respected. In fact, when this happens, conflicts rarely become actual conflicts.
Finally, let’s talk about leadership.
If you are a manager, leader or executive and don’t value and advocate for people trusting each other, your “conflict” issues are really leadership issues. And if you do value and advocate for people trusting each other but you aren’t providing coaching, training and development opportunities for your people to develop and enhance their emotional and social intelligence, you may be talking a good game, but you aren’t doing enough.
Here are some ways you can start to lead a culture of trust and reduce the conflicts that occur.
1. Clearly communicate your expectations around creating a culture of trust. Emphasize that the more trust you have with each other, the better you’ll work together, and the more success everyone will enjoy.
2. Empathize with your people that things aren’t always easy, work can be stressful and people aren’t always going to get along. And that’s OK. Emphasize your commitment to supporting them so they and their peers have the highest quality experience possible.
3. Provide development opportunities that allow them to enhance their emotional and social intelligence. When people better understand their needs for security and confidence as well as their relationship with conflict and the things that are likely to raise their tension and stress, they can start to better manage themselves. When people better understand this about others as well, they can begin to be more intentional with how they work with them. The magic happens when people better understand both themselves and each other, and everyone is committed to each other as much as they are the work. This will result in higher employee engagement, better working relationships and less conflict. And, when conflicts do occur, people will be more likely to resolve them and move on.
4. Repeat often. Leadership changes the world. And leadership (good or bad) will be the root cause of a culture of trust or a culture of conflict. Though it’s not always easy to execute, the decision to try is easy. You either value it or you don’t.