30 plus years working as a Chartered Accountant, then with families and businesses for the past 15 years as a mediator and working as a family business advisor, I’ve seen the same 3 issues arising time and time again. Deal with these 3 and you’ll find a lot of your conflicts disappear:
1. Don’t be too proud to ask for help.
In New Zealand we aren’t great at talking things out. I’ve noticed a real stigma around asking for help managing conversations. For some reason, people who are happy to pay a professional to help with home renovation won’t do the same when their personal or business relationships need improvements. To these people, be courageous and seek help.
Solution: By having that expert person in the room to keep the conversation focused, each person can be themselves without having to manage the conversation as well.
2. Deal with the issues arising in your relationships early.
If things aren’t going as smoothly as they once were in your business or family relationships, please acknowledge it. For example, people may not be as cooperative as they once were. Make sure that you take stock early, not later when conversations are more difficult or uncooperative behaviour has become an issue.
Solution: Nip things in the bud before tensions or frustrations boil over and become full blown conflicts.
3.Keep the faith and stay hopeful.
Even if an argument has erupted into anger or a person has crossed the line and done something out of frustration, things are not irretrievable. Remember that there is always hope that a relationship can be reconciled enough for progress to continue for the business or family.
As an accredited mediator, registered family dispute resolution provider and trained family business advisor, I work with families, family businesses, executives, management teams and communities, to have powerful and constructive conversations. In this way I help people to resolve their conflict to keep friends and family who are in business stay in business – and stay together.
To make it easier for people to connect with me and understand the services that I provide, I’ve launched a new website so feel free to share it with your network: https://rosemariebrown.nz/
My motto for clients is that “I will help them enjoy the freedom of being able to deal with issues constructively so they can move forward in a positive way.”
We all have 2 ears and 1 mouth. Spend much more time listening than speaking. What are they saying? If someone is repeating themselves, often it is because they are not sure you have heard them. So be active in your listening. Tell them what you heard them say (obviously rephrase it if they were aggressive or offensive into something not at all offensive or aggressive). Ask if you’ve missed anything? What aren’t they saying? Is there something they have inferred or implied? Or you are not sure quite what they are trying to say, ask questions to clarify. Demonstrate you are making an effort to understand.
2. Think First. Prepare.
What should this conversation actually be about. Remember if you actually want to resolve something it is not constructive to make the problem the person (even if you feel it is!) It is important to be easy on the person and hard on whatever it is you are unable to reach agreement on. Look at it from every angle. What have you done you are not proud of, or caused an issue for the other person? Write all of this down and prepare some questions before you meet with them. The writing things down is the most important part – as it will help you remember when you are actually trying to speak with the other person. If you just think it and mull it over in your mind – it will not come out right when you are in front of the other person. Be prepared.
3. Be Positive!
What are some positive qualities of the person you are conversing with? This is really difficult in an emotionally charged situation. So be kind to yourself. Start with one positive thing about that person. Then move onto the second. Once you have 3-5 things – write them down. Whenever you feel the other person pushing your buttons or trying to ‘rile’ you, just take a breath and remember at least 3 of those things. That will help you keep focused on the positive. Then remember what you wrote down in #2, what should the conversation be about? Be positive.
Is now the right time? When is the right time? If you or the other person are not in a positive space to listen to reasonable and rational thoughts and comments about the situation – ask to defer the conversation to an agreed time. Follow up and ensure this happens. Even if during a conversation it becomes apparent one of you isn’t in the right positive space anymore, stop there and reschedule. Rome wasn’t built in a day.
5. Show Respect.
Ensure you convey care or respect to the other person and be ready to forgive whenever an admission of fault is made. In fact – be the first to admit to a mistake yourself!! Always be prepared to admit your faults – remember back in tip #2? Demonstrate how important the other person is, or resolving the issue is, by being respectful at all times.
There is a caveat to using these top tips. Do not try to resolve an issue yourself if you feel or someone close to you believes you are in danger of harm or abuse (or authoritative influence as they are more senior than you at work) from the other person, or, you might not be able to control yourself and you might be abusive or cause harm. Should this be applicable to you, you will need assistance to have any form of conversation to get a resolution. If you need assistance contact a mediator and ask about your options. If you are in immediate danger then you need to call 111.