The risk of conflict is always looming its ugly head in business especially when you consider the different participants and agendas that have such an influence on what we do and why we do it. Customers, staff, competitors and suppliers are all part of that influencing mix and, for small business especially, this means your vulnerability comes to the fore when you see the ominous signs of conflict heading your way. In fact, if you are able to see them before they hit, that at least allows time to prepare. Sadly, they usually come straight out of left field without any warning. So, what to do?
Firstly, keep calm and try to salvage some thinking time to switch shoes, figuratively speaking of course. This means kicking off your shoes and stepping into the other party's. This will give you some ideas and offer assumptions as to where they are coming from. Another well-heeled metaphor to illustrate this is to remove your spectacles and delve into the box containing a variety of different ones. These are to give you a different view of the matter causing potential conflict: maybe longer sighted, shorter or even tinted (though probably not rose-coloured!)
The Participation Company provides some useful approaches towards the next steps. So, if you've chosen your lens of preference, offering either avoidance, competition, collaboration, accommodation or compromise, consider the pros and cons of that preference. Next, look at the alternatives and what steps you need to take, maybe changing from your natural default position in order to reach the ideal
Finally, conflict is not always a bad thing. Whilst it may highlight shortcomings within our operations it can also bring into the limelight opportunities and the changes we need to make to capitalise on them.