Conflict gets a bad rap. But it doesn’t have to be that way! Conflict simply means to be different, opposed or contradictory, or fail to agree or accord. Now, that doesn’t sound so bad, does it?
So, why do so many people avoid conflict? A lot of it comes down to not being able to handle the unknown. You don’t know and can’t control how the other person will react, or you’re not sure how to “win,” so you don’t engage at all.
If you want to be an engaged citizen, business owner, employee, leader or person, you’ll never really be able to avoid conflict. But you can learn how to navigate conflict and move forward successfully.
The first step in becoming a better communicator is understanding your communication style — what works and what doesn’t. From there, you can do a quick analysis of people you meet to understand what communication style is their preference and adapt yours accordingly.
A DiSC Profile cheat sheet
The DiSC Profile is a great place to start. Here’s a cheat sheet to the DiSC:
D’s tend to be direct, impatient, demanding, strong-willed, driven and determined. They are motivated by competition and success. They are assertive and results-oriented.
How D’s communicate: They’re direct, fast-paced and outspoken. They can be skeptical and ask a lot of questions, resolute or commanding.
How D’s like their communication:
- Answer the question first, then fill in the details.
- Keep the message concise and focused on the issue at hand.
I’s tend to be influential, enthusiastic, optimistic, collaborative and warm. They are motivated by relationships and social recognition. They are charming and persuasive.
How I’s communicate: Effusive, find common ground, energetic, can use the power of their personality to get things done.
How I’s like their communication:
- Get to know them and what they have to offer.
- Build a relationship first.
- Allow them to share their thoughts, feelings and ideas.
S’s tend to be supportive, collaborative, stable, patient, predictable, deliberate and consistent. They are motivated by helping others. They are accommodating, humble, reliable and loyal.
How S’s communicate: Listen more than they may talk, focus on the relationship and how they can help others, calm and patient
How S’s like their communication:
- Share your sincere appreciation for them.
- Ask for their thoughts and feelings.
- Move slowly and methodically to build trust and help them gain confidence asking for what they want or need.
C’s tend to be careful, analytical, systematic, accurate, perfectionistic and diplomatic. They are motivated by gaining knowledge, sharing their expertise and providing quality output. They are logical and data-driven.
How C’s communicate: Logically and objectively, and they show little emotion and use the facts and data to tell the story. They lean on their intellect rather than relational skills, deliberate.
How C’s like their communication:
- Lead with accurate facts and information
- Allow them time to analyze, fact check and ask questions
- Use logic, not anecdotal stories
3 rules for working through conflict in business
In real estate, we do have to be chameleons with our communication, but that does not mean I would ever advocate for not being authentic. It’s simply smart business to adapt your communication style to make sure that the other party actually hears and understands what you say.
Understanding the basics of communication styles might mitigate conflicts, but it won’t eliminate them.
When faced with a conflict with a client or colleague, consider the following to keep the conversation professional, productive and constructive, while moving all parties forward:
It’s all about keeping your energy in check when you enter into a conversation. Remain curious and open to hearing other perspectives. Don’t get drawn into the excitement of what the other person is telling you.
On the flip side, don’t get pulled down by a negative message from someone else. By staying neutral (unattached to the outcome), you can remain present and clear and genuinely help move the conversation from conflict to resolution.
Keep the end in mind
What is the goal of the conversation? Remember, your goal and your client or colleague’s goals might not be the same. Make sure you are clear on what all parties are trying to achieve. From there, you can help everyone figure out how to get there.
Disagree and commit
One of my favorite communication frameworks is disagreeing and committing.
This means you’re able to engage in tough conversations with clients or team members, hear different perspectives, weigh options and risks, and understand the end goal. And then, even if you ultimately disagree, you have committed to a course of action.
To truly be successful in business, you can’t avoid conflict. You need the courage to have challenging conversations with clients, employees and team members.
You have to be willing to say what other people don’t want to say because you know it’s the right thing to do as a fiduciary and leader. You have to put aside your ego and engage with the other person without knowing the outcome.
By honing these communication skills (especially in the face of conflict), you become a fierce competitor in the business world and a leader others will want to follow.
There is no need to avoid conflict when you have confidence, communication skills and the right mindset to handle any conversation that comes your way.
Adam Hergenrother is the founder and CEO of Adam Hergenrother Companies, the author of The Founder & The Force Multiplier, and the host of the podcast, Business Meets Spirituality. Learn more about Adam’s holistic approach to business here.