Expose the Inexcusable Excuses
for Not Handling
By Francie Dalton
One of the most pervasive problems
within executive ranks is the frequency with which they avoid
conflict. This article presents a compendium of their excuses
and attempts to dismantle each by revealing the flaws embedded
Excuse #1: I'm just not good at handling conflict. So
get good at it. Needing
to improve your skills with conflict doesn't justify avoiding it in the present. Try this four step formula when
addressing your adversary: "When
you____; I feel _____;
because _____; therefore ________.
Excuse #2: If I'm not feeling it, it doesn't exist. If you're refusing to act because you've experienced no ill effects from others'
conflict, understand that your immunity doesn't invalidate others'
pain. As the boss, you
have a fiduciary responsibility to facilitate resolution among feuding
subordinates whether it's affecting you or not.
#3: If I ignore it, it'll go away. I call this the ostrich mentality.
You can certainly stick your head in the sand, but not without
simultaneously offering up what for most of us is a much larger
alternative target, which will be much easier to hit since you're standing still! Ignoring
conflict just increases your risk.
Excuse #4: If I confront,
the conflict will get worse. When executives tell me why they
think confronting conflict will make it worse, their reasons are more
often based on assumptions than on actual experience.
Are you making negative assumptions about what would happen if
you confronted conflict in order to justify inaction?
Excuse #5: It's not urgent, and I have other priorities. Are you feigning other
priorities to justify not having to deal with conflict?
Understand that conflict doesn't have to be urgent to poison the work environment.
Allow low grade hostilities to continue unchecked and they'll fester, infecting every functional activity and resulting in
considerable productivity losses.
Excuse #6: Solving
their interpersonal problems isn't a good use of my time. Then
perhaps you should consider giving up the managerial function.
Excuse #7: Executives should
be able to solve their own conflicts without involving me. Telling
those at an impasse they should be able to solve it themselves isn't helpful. Try getting
each party to answer briefly the following questions regarding their
conflict: What's true right now? What would be the impact if nothing changes?
Now what are your recommendations? This process usually
unearths similar suggestions.
Excuse #8: I don't want to be the "heavy". Being the "heavy" is
part of the weight your rank confers.
Be willing to carry it, or step aside and let someone lead who's willing to lead responsibly.
Excuse #9: I don't care enough about the people involved in this conflict to want to fix
it. Then work somewhere else!
Don't kid yourself into thinking that others can't sense your toxic disdain. Realize too that your passive aggressive
behavior is now a major part of the problem.
Excuse #10: If I were to
confront the conflict, I wouldn't be able to control my
emotions. Maturity involves giving up the luxury of behaving the
way you feel. Learning to subordinate emotions to the achievement of
targeted results is a key requirement for successful management &
feeling fear and trepidation about handling conflict?
Then get to a book store and purchase "Effective Phrases
for Conducting Effective Performance Reviews" by James Neal.
Insert the words "does not" in front of any of the
phrases he provides, and you're equipped to address any conflict. So. No more excuses!
Read other articles and learn more
about Francie Dalton.
[This article is available at no-cost, on a non-exclusive basis.
Contact PR/PR at 407-299-6128 for details and