Stop Making Conflict Personal photo

Stop Making Conflict Personal

Conflict in the building industry is sadly somewhat inevitable. Clients will sometimes view things differently to those of us in the industry. So rather than pretend that conflict isn't coming lets develop strategies to deal with it when it does.

Disagreements are an inevitable, normal, and healthy part of relating to other people. There is no such thing as a conflict-free work environment. You might dream of working in a peaceful utopia, but it wouldn’t be good for your company, your work, or you. In fact, disagreements — when managed well — have lots of positive outcomes. Here are a couple:

Opportunities to learn and grow. As uncomfortable as it may feel when someone challenges your ideas, it’s an opportunity to learn.

Higher job satisfaction. When you’re not afraid to constructively disagree about issues at work, you’re likely to be happier at work.

The good news is that it’s entirely possible to get more comfortable with conflict. Here are some ways to start.

Let go of needing to be liked. Respect the other person’s point of view, and expect them to respect yours. If you model that you’re comfortable and that respect is more important than likability, you’ll take a lot of tension out of situations and feel less dread for conflict.

Focus on the big picture. Disagreements are hard when you think of them as personal jabs, but remember you are the industry expert and the success of the job often relies on your opinion being heard.  How will it help the the project you’re working on? Wanting to be liked is about you; wanting what’s best for the build is far less selfish.

Don’t equate disagreement with unkindness. When I talk with people who are afraid of conflict, and I ask why they are hesitant to disagree, I most often hear, “I don’t want to hurt her feelings” or “I don’t want to be a jerk.” Yes, there are some people who genuinely don’t want to be disagreed, but most people are open to hearing a different perspective if you share it thoughtfully and respectfully.

Remember, the best way to respond to a difficult client or conflict situation is to be respectful, and shower them with kindness.

[adapted from HBR Why We Should Be disagreeing More At Work by Amy Gallo Jan 2018]