gina-mba
So many of us women business owners go through our careers walking on eggshells, careful not to hurt anyone’s feelings. Delivering any kind of criticism or negative commentary can be one of our biggest fears. Often, we’d rather be uncomfortable than make anybody else uncomfortable. And we can be so worried about what people will think of us that we bite our lips and fail to stand up for ourselves.

 
Yes, people’s feelings matter. However so do ours! Shying away from conflict is actually the worse way to create a happier workflow, grow as people, or achieve our goals. As conscious business owners in our power, we need to be able to handle conflict in a direct, effective, empowered way.

gina-mba-1Who better to inspire us than the cowboy heroes of the wild west? This classic archetype represents a certain cool, collected, and confident force that has no problem confronting conflict. The cowboy always speaks directly and concisely, protects his own turf, and is never afraid to be the boss.

Of course we’ve all had painful experiences in our businesses where our working relationships have gotten messy. In certain situations, it can be challenging to be sure of what the high road is: do we speak
up, or let it go? Move forward, or draw the line? Every situation is different, but there are a couple of rules I’ve learned to live by that enhance my confidence in my intuition and decision making. Here are my top 3:

 

Don’t Wait Around for the
Drama to Unfold

If something is negatively affecting you, your business, or other members of your team, you need to address it right away—directly. Procrastinating or avoiding it will only make things worse. You don’t need to be aggressive and beat anyone down, but don’t dance around the subject either. Use direct, clear communication and speak honestly from your own experience. Tell them what about their actions, attitudes, or decisions hasn’t been positive for you, and suggest what they can do differently to help things run more smoothly.

 

Ask Questions First, Shoot Later
Typically when it comes to any conflict in business, there is always some truth to every side of it. It’s usually not black or white, but likely the result of miscommunications, mismatched expectations, confusion, or good decisions that simply didn’t pan out. Few people actually get out of bed in the morning wanting to gina-mba-2cause problems, but everyone does make mistakes. So always give the benefit of the doubt when you hear about a conflict or a problem, and never jump to conclusions. Speak to everyone involved from a neutral position before firing your guns. You don’t want to create more drama than is necessary, so draw and deliver your conclusions from a level-headed, well-informed place.

 

Be the Sheriff Who Keeps the
Peace, but know when to draw

Confronting someone becomes easier if you approach it from a positive place. Always be solutions-oriented. Remember you aren’t interested in anyone getting hurt, you’re interested in creating a more harmonious workflow. You are there to share your experience honestly and explain why someone’s behavior has upset you. Whether it’s in business or life, so many people approach conflict as if it means things are permanently broken, when often there’s an easy compromise or re-alignment than can allow things to start anew. Now at the same time, if problems arise chronically and certain working relationships become a constant energy drain for you and your team, you will simply have to be strong enough to cut things off, fire that employee, let the client go or bring the business relationship to an end. Remember that what you’re protecting is bigger than yourself. If someone is simply not serving your vision and failing to grow with you, you can feel confident that change is the best thing for everyone.

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