Communication is every leader and organization’s greatest ally or unacknowledged burden.
One of the biggest challenges for people when in conflict with others is dealing with the emotional content and each other’s feelings and differences. Because this is difficult for most people at given times, the most common way to deal with it is to avoid or dismiss how you or others are feeling. This is the biggest cause of broken communication, repeating issues and lack of resolution to persistent work relationship issues.
People have different viewpoints, and under the right set of circumstances, those differences escalate to conflict.
Conflict isn’t necessarily a bad thing, though. Healthy and constructive conflict is a component of high-functioning teams. Conflict arises from differences between people; the same differences that often make diverse teams more effective. Team members must be open to these differences and not let them rise into disputes, power struggles and turf wars.
How you handle that conflict determines whether it works to the team’s advantage, or contributes to its demise.
You can choose to ignore it, complain about it, blame someone for it, or try to deal with it through hints and suggestions; or you can be direct, clarify what is going on, and attempt to reach a resolution. It’s clear that conflict has to be dealt with, but the question is how: Are you going to have a Hole conversation or a Whole conversation?
Hole conversations are not complete or effective. They inevitably leave out important pieces that create lack of clarity, understanding and mutual agreement. Often what is left out is the “ugly and messy” emotions and issues that you are in denial or avoidance of; these are the source of the unresolved issues and conflict.
Hole conversations avoid or deny the following: issues and pain points in the relationship, unconscious-unexpressed-unresolved feelings and emotions that include fear, frustration, disappointment, judgement, anger and sadness to name a few, negative beliefs about the other person or the issue.
Whole conversations create the right space and environment that allow all of the issues, pain points, feelings and emotions to be expressed and heard by all parties involved. A good rule of thumb is: “Feelings and emotions first, clarity, agreement and path forward after.”
Understanding and appreciating the various viewpoints and allowing for the emotional content involved in the conflict are key factors in its resolution. These are key skills for all team members to develop. The important thing is to maintain a healthy balance of constructive difference of opinion, and avoid negative conflict that’s destructive and disruptive.
When an individual or team oversteps the healthy difference of opinions, resolving conflict requires respect and patience. The human experience of conflict involves perceptions, emotions and actions; we experience it on all three levels, and we need to address all three levels to resolve it. We must replace the negative experiences with positive ones.
Resolving Conflict, Creating Clarity and Connection
The following steps are necessary in order to facilitate a whole and healthy conversation:
This process can help solve communication issues and individual and team conflict efficiently and effectively. The basis of the approach is gaining understanding of the different perspectives, feelings, wants and needs of your partners and colleagues. Use that understanding to expand your own thoughts and beliefs about the issue.
Whole Conversations vs. Hole Conversations Key Points