The Leadership Gift Conflict Rule No. 4: Anticipate Breakthrough

The most effective managers of conflict hold a liberating belief about it. They see conflict as a sign of impending breakthrough. Said another way, conflict is a precursor to breakthrough – you can’t get breakthrough without conflict!

There is a saying that night is darkest just before dawn. The question of perspective is this: do you dread the dark or use it to anticipate light? You can use your Leadership Gift to anticipate light. When demonstrated as trust, calmness, and anticipation, that liberating belief allows others to put aside doubts and fears in order to stay engaged in search of a resolution that will satisfy all parties.

Two Tips About How to Achieve Breakthrough

1. Create feelings of high trust during low consensus so people will continue to work through the conflict together. This is unique in our society since we tend to attack people with whom we disagree, but it is possible to demonstrate trust without agreement.

World class negotiators are known to treat each other with trust and respect. They agree not to put down, trick or take advantage of each other in any way. They do this because they know that working closely together is more likely to produce a win than is working at arm’s length.

Speaking of arm’s length, sometimes it is easier to understand the condition of high trust with low consensus by considering the opposite condition – low trust with high consensus.

Just last week we learned the expression “Barney meeting” from a participant in our public learning event. A Barney meeting is one in which everyone acts huggable but nothing truly gets done because they are not willing to address real issues together. We’ve all been in meetings where everyone was very nice to each other but never got into any real issues. That’s low trust with high consensus–false consensus!

2. Ask: how can we each be “right?” You can rapidly switch the frame within which each party is viewing the conflict by asking this question. It re-focuses attention from “me against you” to “me and you.” This frame-switching can lead to an expansive solution that incorporates each party’s interests.

Get Started With This 5-Minute Stretch

Reflect on a conflict that you are experiencing. It does not have to be with another. It could be internal. Now, imagine an extraordinary resolution and breakthrough existing just beyond the conflict (you don’t have to get what the breakthrough is, just that it is there).

Stay with this until you feel the anticipation. Now, how have your feelings about addressing the conflict shifted?

Posted in Leadership on 04/15/2013 01:00 am
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