So many leaders do a fabulous job—except when it comes to dealing with the conflicts that inevitably show up in their leadership role. That’s where they let themselves down.
Confidently confronting and eliminating conflicts is a crucial missing link for so many leaders.
I’m going to show you how you can take preventative action so that many of your conflicts are a thing of the past.
The Consequences Of Sidestepping Conflict
When you sidestep conflicts or don’t deal with conflicts effectively:
- Your stress increases
- You don’t feel proud of yourself—your self-esteem suffers
- You toss and turn at night—either because you weren’t thrilled with the way you dealt with a conflict, or because the difficult issue you’ve been avoiding confronting is lurking in the back of your mind.
What Causes You To Be In Conflict?
Many of your conflicts are caused by one thing…
Your expectations and the other person’s expectations are not aligned.
We so often assume we know where the other person’s coming from and what their intent is.
It’s these suppositions and assumptions that are so often the root cause of many of the clashes that you have with people.
When you expect one thing—and the other party expects something different, you can bet that dissatisfaction, frustration, conflict and even anger is going to occur.
Three Types Of Expectations
There are three different classes of expectations:
- Verbalised expectations You and the other person have discussed your expectations.For example, you and Alex have agreed that, by Friday this week, he’ll deliver a two-page report about “xyz” and that he’ll address “abc”.Because you’ve both tabled your expectations they’re likely to be met and conflict won’t arise.
- Non-verbalised expectations You’re aware that you have expectations but they haven’t been communicated to the other person. For example, you know you need “abc’ addressed in a “xyz” report from Alex by Friday this week BUT you’ve not had a discussion with Alex about the report, the timing or your thinking about the what the report needs to contain.It’ll therefore be hit and miss whether Alex has the report to you by Friday. And if he does, there’s a fair chance it won’t meet your criteria.
- Unconscious expectations You’re not aware that you have expecations about xyz.Warning! These unconscious expectations are VERY dangeous! For example, you know that you need a report from Alex but you’ve not consciously thought about your timing needs or the details of what you expect the report to contain.I doubt that your expectations will be met—unless you strike it lucky or unless Alex is a subconscious-mind reader .
How To Minimise Your Exposure To Conflict And Create More Harmony
Think back to a recent conflict you had…
Did that conflict occur because you didn’t discuss your expectations with the other person—or vice versa?
The key to minimising people clashes and creating more harmony is this:
Frequently, have expectation-aligning discussions.
You could simply say something like:
“Sam, my expectation is that you’ll blah, blah, blah.
How aligned is that with your thinking?”
Not hard, is it?
It’s critical that you have these discussions—and they’re not difficult discussions to have.
Your Action Steps
Think about your day/week/month—decide with whom there’s an overdue expectation-alignment discussion.
Have those discussions.
You’ll immediately notice that there’s much less conflict in your world when you take this preventive action.
“I am now more influential with my direct reports, peers and others. Carolyn is a highly-capable coach who develops leaders key strengths to extraordinary skills.”
– National Service Delivery Manager, Document Management Solutions
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Carolyn Stevens has worked with leaders for more than 25-years—hundreds of them.
She’s supported leader after leader (including those who previously struggled to confront the difficult, let alone persuasively deal with the it) flourish—and become confident, courageous and impressively influential.
Carolyn is authentic and results-oriented. She draws on an eclectic array of approaches, tools and techniques to suit the situation.