Star Wars Don't Have To Be Your Wars
July 13, 2015
Owner/Administrator Of Visiting Angels
Topicsconflict, Conflict Management
In the movie Armageddon, the President of the United States is talking to NASA scientist Dan Truman, played by Billy Bob Thornton, about the approaching asteroid. Let’s listen in…
President: What is this thing?
Truman: It's an asteroid, sir.
President: How big are we talking?
Scientist: Sir, our best estimate is 97.6 billion.
Truman: It's the size of Texas, Mr. President.
President: Dan, we didn't see this thing coming?
Truman: Well, our object collision budget's about a million dollars a year. That allows us to track about three percent of the sky, and begging your pardon, sir, but it's a big-ass sky.
Conflict is bound to happen. There’s no way we can see all of the potential conflicts headed our way. The sky is just too big. Sure, sometimes we see it coming, but other times it sneaks up on us and catches us off guard or unaware. But conflict, like the asteroid in the movie, is coming whether we like it or not.
The challenges we face as we lead others are how to prepare for times of conflict, how to deal with it when it happens, and possibly avert or minimize the consequences of conflict. Let’s focus on the latter here, and maybe discover some ways that we that we might diminish or avoid a number of potential conflicts.
Houston, We Have A Problem
I know that quote is from a different space movie, but you get the point! Effective and clear communication is a vital practice if we’re going to cut back on the amount of conflict in our organizations. Just a few suggestions when it comes to clear communication are:
- Put important messages in writing.
- Ask for feedback from your team.
- Communicate often and in as many different ways as possible.
Set Phasers to Stun
Seriously, space movies are hostile places. That being said, many major conflicts can be avoided by dealing with little problems while they are still small. Ignoring problems is not the same as avoiding conflict. Proactively addressing smaller issues so that they don’t metastasize into much bigger problems is a skill every leader needs. Consider these possibilities when confronted with smaller, but potentially growing problems:
- Go to the source of the problem for the clearest picture of what the issue is.
- Look for common ground or ways to mediate a peaceful resolution.
- Don’t overreact or make more of a problem than really exists.
Use The Force, Luke
You may not be a Jedi master, but you’re the leader. Some leaders stumble into the role, but it’s more likely you’ve made it there through hard work, training and trusting your instincts. Sort of sounds like you are a Jedi. When trying to survey the landscape of team interaction and potential problems, use and trust the instincts that got you where you are. Other things you might consider are:
- Surround yourself with leaders who also have instincts that you trust.
- Take some time to reflect on those gut feelings. Don’t react too quickly.
- When all else fails, remember this; you NEVER have to apologize for doing the right thing.
Anytime more than one person occupies a space, whether it is outer space or an office space, there’s bound to be conflict sometime. As the leader, plan ahead. Communicate, don’t overreact and use your instincts to minimize the effects that conflict will have on you, your team and your organization. You can do it.
There are some really good pointers here. I love the old saying “if you think that you have a problem, you probably do.” The question is usually….who should become involved and at what level ? Don’t you just love it when you ask someone to straighten things out and the problem just become worse ? Misunderstandings eventually cause hurt feelings. Often, these things can be avoided by over communicating up front. It takes a little more time, but can stop conflict from ever happening. Good article !
I love the suggestion to “overcommunicate”! I don’t know if it’s even possible, but the goal is a super way to avoid or minimize conflict! Thanks Bill!
As a leader who deals with a lot of people, I have discovered that conflict is not avoidable but it should be managed effectively. In the organization that I lead, if we are not having conflict, we are simply not doing our job. Don’t get me wrong here, I am not a guy who just loves to fight but I have intentionally sought out highly skilled and highly passionate people to be on our team. When you surround yourself with skilled and passionate people, get ready for the conflict to take place.
However, the conflict most often leads our team to the best solutions. When it comes to managing conflict in our organization, we strive for reconciliation over resolution.
There really is a big difference difference between these two concepts. “Reconciliation” means to reestablish the relationship. “Resolution” means to resolve every issue. Sometimes you just can’t resolve every issue or any issue. Reconciliation keeps in mind that the relationship with the person takes precedence over the issue. There will be many times in life and in business when resolution is simply impossible.
Why? Because we are different. We have different backgrounds, different gifts, different personalities. We see things differently. So, it is inevitable that there’s going to be differences in our relationship from time to time. So, no matter how much we talk, sometimes we are just going to see things differently.
However, We can agree to disagree in an agreeable fashion. That is the key with dealing with many issues.
We can have unity in a relationship without having uniformity. We can walk hand in hand in a relationship without seeing eye to eye on everything. We can have reconciliation without having resolution of every difference.
When two people agree on everything, maybe one of them isn’t necessary, anyway. Those differences that we have can lead to some incredible results. So you have to get back on track by emphasizing reconciliation not resolution.
What an awesome comparison to offer, between reconciliation and resolution! So many leaders I’ve know feel like they are a failure if they aren’t ever able to help team members achieve “resolution”, but you nailed it! Teams that work well, that minimize conflict and learn from it, those are the teams that have been led to work towards “reconciliation”, without worrying about whether everyone ultimately sees the world the same way or not!
Great article Page. I have found that using repetition repitition repitiion is the best way to avoid misunderstandings that lead to conflicts, especially those that arise from lack of expectations being communicated in a multitude of ways. I encourage the ladies with whom I work to say it and then say it again and try not to tire of the process because all of us learn best by hearing and experiencing things many times.
NAILED IT! Leaders need to remember the power of the reminder!
More than that, they need to remember to remind their teams!
Also important, great leaders know that to help teams remember, remind them!
Page, good article and thanks for reiterating some basics that we as leaders easily forget, especially when we get busy “doing leadership”. Going to the source of the problem is always critical and going in a spirit of humility is so important because we all fail in many ways. The way we go to the source of the problem is modeling for those we are leading how to deal with issue, I think that is called “discipleship”. The next time it may be us that is on the receiving end of a rebuke and the one who needs to repent. That is if we have built a team where there is mutual trust and respect so that there is an openness to share so that we are spurring one another on to love and good deeds.
Bill, thank YOU for the reminder that leadership is more about “modeling and mentoring”, and less about ordering and judging. Those we lead are desperately looking for authenticity and humility in their leaders! Thank you!
1) Thanks for another engaging and useful post.
2) Thanks for multiple rabbit trails, as I spent much time in reflection on just how much I enjoy a good sci-fi film and you evoked some of my favorites:).
3) I particularly enjoyed the connection of Jedi Master to effective leader. While the Jedi are (unfortunately) fictional beings, the elements of training, preparation, and reflection which you highlight are real and necessary for any effective leader.
Now if I can just figure out that Jedi Mind Trick to get free coffee every morning, I’m set.
Thanks for a great example of how to get across important information in an entertaining fashion, which will enhance the likelihood we will all remember this just a bit better.
Thank you again! You are an incredible encourager! I try my best to say something worth saying, and have fun doing it!
In your list of “training, preparation & reflection”, it got my juices going… other Jedi traits that could be beneficial… mentoring(Yoda), self-sacrifice(Obiwan) & really cool outfits (Darth)… ok, maybe not that last one!
There is a lot of wisdom in this article that I can use. Something that I have done starting when I was in a leadership role in law enforcement….when I was confronted with something that affected me emotionally (anger, frustration etc…) I would try to wait at least 24 hours before I made a decision. Almost any decision can wait 24 hours and invariably I made a better decision after the waiting period. I have shared this with other professionals and they all have commented on what a great piece of advise this is, which of course I stole from someone else.
I love the “wait 24 hour rule”! I had an old medical doctor(he actually was a M.A.S.H. doctor in Korea!) who used to always say to me, “Page, it never hurts to sleep on a big decision!”
Great counsel, and thanks for stirring up that great memory for me!
Enjoyed the article and the comments very much. Thanks for allowing me to be a part. I feel it begins with listening. Though I’m not yet an expect at always remaining silent, it is something I try to consciously make an effort to do. I feel like when we listen to a person explain their concerns it enables us to listen to the possible underlying issues. I try to listen to what is being said, along with what is not being said. I watch their body language and listen for tone to gauge how serious the conflict is for them. I believe listening until the person is finished with their thoughts, not shutting them down and asking questions to verify understanding allows us to come to a quicker resolution and hopefully one that is effective and a resolution everyone is happy with.
Love the listening comment… listen, listen, listen! It’s a great lesson, but a skill we all need to work on it!
Great job, Page. Communication is key… not only talking but LISTENING as well… thanks for including me.
If I could improve only one skill in my life, it would be LISTENING! It’s the “stepchild in the family of Communication”! thanks for your input!