I’m not one to back down from confrontation and I’m no fan of passivity, but I know that people with strong convictions and/or an acute sense of pride rarely change position during a highly emotional exchange.
While preparing to deliver a team-building seminar, I found several articles on conflict resolution. Some were good; some, mediocre; and some, pure garbage. I should have known to go straight to the book I’ve read and recommended dozens of times, Dale Carnegie’s classic How To Win Friends and Influence People.
Citing the popular motivational series, Bits & Pieces, Dale offered these nine steps:
- Welcome the disagreement—if two partners always agree, one isn’t needed.
- Distrust first instincts. Avoid getting defensive. It only makes you more vulnerable.
- Control your temper. When we are quick to react, the focus of the conversation shifts from the original topic to the sour behavior.
- Listen first. Listening is a sign of respect. When we show respect, we command respect. Also, good listeners make the best sales people. And when we’re trying to persuade, we are all salesmen.
- Look for areas of agreement. After listening to the other guy, pause and reflect. Find and point out what you have in common. We can build bridges when find commonalities. Without a bridge, we have no chance of getting our message across.
- Be honest! …with yourself and the other guy. Remember, there are three sides to every story—your side, the other guy’s side, and the right side. Be open to the fact that you could be wrong, and be willing to admit it.
- Promise to think over your opponent’s ideas, and be sincere about it. Odds have it that a sufficient resolution—one without resentment—will not be reached on the spot.
- Show sincere gratitude. Give the other guy credit for taking interest in your opinion. You may end up winning him over as a friend. Gratitude is the best attitude, and attitude is everything.
- Cooler heads prevail. Postpone action until both sides had sufficient time to digest the disagreement.
Dale Carnegie’s How to Win Friends and Influence People is a must read, especially for those in business, any business! It’s my one-book recommendation.
Years ago, I interviewed a series of very successful entrepreneurs with the sole purpose of finding out what one book (if they could only name one) they would recommend to anyone with aspirations. More on that next time.
What “one book” do you recommend to anyone aspiring to succeed?