I avoid conflict like the plague. I grew up as a child having to manage through psychologically unsafe environments from school, community, home and ultimately my work environment. And while I leveraged my superpower to maintain peace, build consensus to be politically correct, it became a weakness when it comes to having Conversations for Alignment.

A close person to me recently said they really want to know what I think for which I briefly unleashed my position on a controversial topics. What ensued was a very positive conversation to bridge the gap between how I was feeling with the person and reaching a new level of understanding. How often do you avoid conflict in your various environments? For leaders, we don’t often have the capability or framework to guide us for which I dedicate this article to you.

Insight: I have developed a conversation map that moves us through a process that ultimately moves a conversation forward to actionable steps for both parties in this tool I offer in my Drop In Collective sessions:

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It moves the conversation from establishing a base for agreement, factually state the gap, seek to understand why there is a gap and agree to take action to close the gap. This is a skill that can easily be honed with practice on someone before going into a real situation.

 In real life: I had a conflict with a peer on a significant quality issue for which I needed their leadership to support their issue, but until then they remained silent. When we met and agreed the quality issue was serious, I soon learned that in previous experience, they never had to bring forth their leadership on such topics; they were handled by a different function. Once I understood the reason for the gap, we set actions and agreed how we would support each other going forward.

I was very nervous going into this situation because I was frustrated and also needed to preserve the relationship as part of a greater outcome. I’m pleased to share that we maintained good relations and from that point forward, I frequently had conversations for alignment and we continually moved forward together. 

Impact: That day, we solved a critical business issue, but we ultimately achieved a better working relationship. Always start from visualizing what we want the ultimate outcome to be. From there we engineer in the tactical steps towards that goal vs. simply the gap at hand. It results in a better long term result. Potential Actions: Do you have a “conflict” for which you need to move forward a conversation? Can you use this tool to help the situation. Can you try it on a friendly person to practice building this new skill? Try it out on someone who you need to close a gap and message me back how it went. I always love to learn what works and if you have an enhancement, let’s build a new tool together!

 Challenge: Does your team struggle with this skill? Can you take this tool and teach them and coach them to get better results. Remember time is money and if you have to keep jumping in, it keeps you from the purposeful work. Do you not have the capacity right now to help your team? Consider leveraging me to do a 30 minute complimentary “lunch & learn” for you to elevate the skills on your team. Message me if interested! 

Wishing you well and continued success!

Deb Coviello