When we are in complex environments, where uncertainty is everywhere, increasing pressure or outside of our comfort zone, anxiety and stress are the order of the day. Sensitivity skyrockets and tension increases. Thus, tolerance decreases at the same rate as flexibility.
In this scenario, due to a very common misfortune nowadays, conflicts in personal relationships tend to be more frequent and more intense.
INTERPERSONAL CONFLICTS: A PROBLEMATIC OF MULTIPLE EDGES
Discrepancy and disagreement, the root of all conflict, give way to a vast range of actions that each entail consequences.
From this range of performances, I choose an attitude that, due to its subtlety, can often go unnoticed. I am referring to the decision of not sharing our point of view, to abandon the dialogue to avoid, precisely, conflict. I call them “pending conversations”, and they are those that, for some reason or another, did not occur at the time, but that generated an invisible gap of disagreement that lasts over time.
I have already addressed this topic before, but I feel that it is relevant to bring it up again so that, in these moments of change that demand collaboration and co-creation, we can build on solid ground.
It is common that over time conversations that we would have had to hold at a given moment but that, or on the other hand, never took place, fall into the drawer of oblivion, or into that of non-management.
When due to discomfort, lack of time, supposed prudence or for any other reason, the truth is that when a conversation could be thorny, we decide to postpone it or simply avoid it. This veiled and untreated matter at the time, is the perfect fertilizer for a future conflict situation.
Without realising it, we have planted an ideal seed so that judgement, presupposition, distrust or any other element of those that end up disturbing, can germinate.
It is interesting to reflect on the pending conversations that each and every one of us have, and of course, on what it is that makes it difficult for us to tackle them.
Behind this refusal lurks relevant and very useful information to continue progressing on our path to excellence as leaders, as people.
In some way, facing a conversation that was suspended at the time is to end an unfinished chapter. To close a gap through which we are losing part of our energy.
If in a fit of courage we decide to carry out this task, it will be useful to take some aspects into account.
ASPECTS TO TAKE INTO ACCOUNT WHEN WE TACKLE A PENDING CONVERSATION
It is very important to choose a time and a suitable place to be able to talk. That people are calm, without issues that are pressing us, with time available and in an environment as welcoming as possible, will determine, to a large extent, how the conversation unfolds.
Starting with a few words of gratitude for the opportunity to talk and with a listening attitude and sincere interest in the person in charge is another of the essential requirements.
Once we have made the connection from that authentic attitude, without imposition, it is time to present our point of view. An exhibition as objective as possible, where we never talk about the facts of the person.
Thus, for example, if our pending conversation revolves around the perception that a person on the team is not involved in the development of a project, it would be preferable to express an opinion such as ‘at the time, I perceived an underwhelming participatory attitude from you that has been present throughout these months’, rather than saying ‘it makes me nervous to see that you are so dull’. Notice that with the first option, I give the person an opportunity to improve while in the second, I label and typecast.
At this point, anad as a way to undo the mess, it is time to leave behind what happened in their day and clearly explain to the person with whom we are talking about what is expected or needed from them in order to reestablish the relationship. Following our example, it would be something like ‘I need you to participate more in our team meetings, your contribution is important to the project.’
And then, it is essential to provide support to facilitate the change in behaviour that we are demanding. Something like ‘what do I have on hand that I can offer so that you participate more during the meetings?’ You may tell us that you are comfortable, being interrupted, that you feel your contributions are being belittled… or anything else!
This is a crucial moment, the point at which the door is opened to talk from another place, a space where it is possible to lay the foundations for a future relationship.
Finally, it should be noted that it is very beneficial to rehearse the conversation as many times as necessary so that emotions do not come out of point blank, or take over excessively, when we are ‘live”. How good it would be to use this simple tool to achieve a healthier and more peaceful environment and also to, for example, open the door to invisible minorities. In fact, it also requires two ingredients: will and humility.