"Expecting people to resolve their differences without giving them conflict-management skills is like giving a computer to someone who's never seen one before and saying, 'Have fun using this.'"
”Pat Parenty, senior vice president and general manager, Redken, U.S.A.
Imagine yourself in each of the following situations:
At work, one of your peers says to you, "I don't see how you can call yourself a team player, you always seem to be focused on your own agenda."
You've just joined a company as a department head. One of your new staff greets you by saying, "I've been here three years . I don't need you to tell me how to do my job."
You are representing Revlon at a trade show. Someone you've never met before comes up to your booth and says, "I don't care what you say, I think Max Factor does a better job of marketing than Revlon."
How would you respond to these challenges? There are a number of options. You could choose to be dismissive and simply blow off your adversaries, saying to yourself: "Zelda is having a bad hair day." "No sense arguing with Frank, he's a control freak." "This person is clueless about what we really do." Alternatively, you could dig in and mount a point-by-point counteroffensive, or you could take the high road and ask them to explain their statements. A fourth option is to play the diplomat and try to mollify them, saying that they are entitled to their point of view and that you are certain that they have good reasons for believing what they do. And there are other decisions to be made. You could use the same approach with all three, or you may choose to be selective and employ different strategies, depending on whether your challenger is a peer, a direct report, or a stranger.
The way in which you handle conflict-charged situations like these says a great deal about your personal conflict-management style, the conflict-resolution skills you possess, and those you need to acquire.