I took a deep breath. After numerous phone calls and corrections, my flight reservation was still messed up. Only now I was standing at the ticket counter with a flight leaving in an hour.
The agent said there is a problem and listened as I shared the journey to get me standing before her. She smiled and said, “Mr. Bonham, we are going to get you on that flight and when you leave this counter, you will not have to worry about this the rest of your flight.” When she said that, I knew that it was going to happen.
I am writing this while on the second leg of that very flight. In light of all the airline news over the last few weeks, this was a bright spot. Anger, short fuses and people going over the edge all led to a mess. Not today. Two people looked each other in the eye and said, “Let’s make this happen.” What a difference! At that point, it really didn’t matter who was right, who worked the hardest on it or even who had the most to gain. Both of us had a purpose and we got it done. No one raised their voice, got angry, called someone out or even devalued the other person.
Conflict resolution is fundamental principle in leadership. If you are going to be a leader, people are going to disagree. Either with you or others, the ability to bring a different perspective and opinion will bring irritation. No one really likes conflict. I don’t like to see people on opposite sides of the fence. Yet, I do like it when conflict is resolved to bring growth and results. Here are some random thoughts about conflict resolution:
- Focus on the object of disagreement, not the person. When you make it personal, you lose the ability to objectively bring resolution.
- Value the other person. If you can communicate value to the other person, you can keep the focus on the conflict.
- Listen more than you talk. You will not learn anything while you are talking. Listening to the other person will give you insights to the person and the situation.
- Ask questions. When you make a statement, you are drawing lines in the sand. When you ask a question, you are extending an invitation for them to share into the resolution. (And you learn how to proceed next.)
- Know your limit. In the end, I know what my cap is for resolution. If we get there before the cap, it’s a win. If we reach the cap and we haven’t resolved the conflict, I will walk away. (Rarely happens by the way).
I write this knowing each of us have had some wins and losses in this area. Here is my bottom line – I want to resolve conflict to grow and make progress. If I cannot do that, then I will value that person and walk away. My integrity and character are worth more than winning.