When you are in conflict- or crisis-mode, the tendency is to get emotionally charged and that sometimes leads to folks taking actions that are unhealthy for the business.
Here are four steps that I adopted from the University of Maryland’s Leadership Program to deal with communicating during crisis or conflict:
1) Separate the People from the Problem
A good communication about conflict should focus on the underlying problem (not the person).
” We just discovered that we did not ship out products to certain customers over the last 10 days and now sales will be down 16% this month” (good)
“George (in Shipping) slipped up and forgot to confirm that our shipping facility received our go-ahead to ship products out this month…and our sales are plummeting” (bad)
If you indeed do have a person-problem, then deal with the problem as a relationship problem by talking directly to the person you have a problem with (i.e. George)
2) Generate a Variety of Possible Solutions before Deciding What to Do
Don’t assume there is just one solution.
“After discussing this with all of you, we have two potential solutions:
And it doesn’t have to be your solution versus your team’s solution.
3) Insist That Results Be Based On Some Objective Standard.
That way, you and your team can measure how you get out of the crisis/conflict.
And if you’re involved in a conflict and feeling angry about it, this Chinese Proverb has proven invaluable to many people:
“Never write when you’re angry.”
It’s better to pause, collect your thoughts first and even talk to a colleague if you can…then start writing when you’re more calm.
Your communication will now be more effective.