By Amber Williamson
We all face conflict at some point in our personal and professional lives. There never seems to be a shortage of problems and it’s easy to become overwhelmed by the constant need to seek creative solutions.
As a mother of two young, precocious children, I’m no stranger to solving problems. Daily life with kids often leaves me exhausted and grasping for answers to some of parenting’s oldest questions:
I’m tempted daily to add a piercing whistle to my parenting toolbox to break up the arguing, stop the whining and to hopefully get someone’s attention. But, of course, I don’t do that. Instead, I try to take a more reasonable approach and seek solutions that teach my children alternate ways around and through conflict.
I know I’m not the only parent who lies awake at night, thinking up creative parenting solutions or ways to make tomorrow a better day. The years of experience I have under my parenting belt have led me to discover that seeking creative solutions to personal conflicts is very similar to addressing problems in your professional life.
Many clients come to The Ulum Group Maybe they’re receiving unfavorable media coverage and want it to stop. Or perhaps they’re facing controversial decisions that are causing public outcry. Whatever the conflict, our clients expect us to deliver innovative, seamless solutions to them. Instead of reaching for a piercing whistle, they want us to craft thoughtful messaging that accurately tells their story in a highly complex and constantly changing media landscape.
I’m proud to know that The Ulum Group often exceeds client expectations for conflict resolution. Our best advice in managing conflict, whether in your personal or professional life, is the simplest:
1) Always tell the truth. Period. Despite reports in mainstream media, there really is no such thing as “truthiness.”
2) Be honest, straightforward and as transparent as possible. One of the first things Jenny Ulum – the founder of our firm – told me as a new employee was, “in the absence of information, people expect the worst.” I’ve found those words to be true time and again throughout my career. With new social media channels there are many new and exciting ways to tell your story – explore and use them!
3) Apologize – sincerely. The magical words, “I’m sorry,” hold the power to not only dry a 2-year-old’s tears, but also build genuine goodwill for your company.
4) Use humor when appropriate. It’s impossible to stay angry if you’re laughing with someone. Use humor to cut the tension, change a conversation focus and show a bit of character behind your company’s impersonal veneer.
5) Seek out your biggest critics. This piece of advice is the most often ignored or overlooked by people navigating conflict. It’s natural to want to avoid having a face-to-face conversation with the very people who cause you the most headaches. Seeking out your critics and having an open, honest dialogue with them can take you miles down the road in finding solutions and resolving conflict.
Hopefully these tips come in handy the next time you’re wrestling with a conflict at work or just trying to break up an argument among your children. Do you have a tip for managing conflict a home that applies to the workplace? If so, I’d love to hear about it!