One of the challenges often uncovered when working with an individual as a coach is some unresolved issue that has arisen in the past between this person and another. It could involve their boss, their customer or their co-worker. Regardless of the
relationship between them, the issue has never been addressed in a way that will rectify or provide explanation thus leaving at least one of them reeling of frustration and even anger.
What I’ve discovered is that the occurrence of whatever happened will continue to fester and be carried forward without a time limit. Thus, being unaddressed and unresolved, it impacts key and important working relationships, the ‘victim’s’ productivity and attitude. In the overall, it remains an ongoing thorn in the side of the one carrying this around. When this is uncovered
during my conversations with someone who is having such an experience I … and they … come to realize that …
- Regardless of how they have rationalized the situation, it remains an irritant to them
- Any attempts they feel they’ve made to address the issue have been unheard or unsuccessful
- They have taken steps to minimize the involvement they have with the other person and this is awkward especially when the job requires that they cooperate to reach their goals
We tend to rationalize the reasons we haven’t or don’t want to confront a challenging situation and here are some of the key ones:
- We fear that we could make things worse by raising the issue
- We fear hearing things about ourselves that we don’t want to hear
- We rationalize that we or the other person are going to come out of this feeling very bad and that could be even worse than it seems now
And yet … it becomes obvious to the affected person that in order for this to be resolved they are simply going to need to confront the issue as their only real hope of improving their uncomfortable situation. The question is how do they do this? It is a two-fold approach.
The first is to determine what one can do to prepare themselves to approach and enter into a communication that will lead to the very resolution they desire. Here are some key elements that will accomplish the right state of mind:
- Become very clear as to what the true issue is that needs to be addressed
Accept the fact that the other person is going to have their own perspective of what has taken place and prepare ourselves to be both curious and interested in hearing this
- Have a suggestion for a resolution that could make this issue go away
- Be open to the other person having their own idea for what you can both do to avoid this in the future
- Believe that you are going to own some aspect of the issue and willingly accept that the absolute goal of the conversation is to resolve the past doing what that might require
The second aspect of resolution is to have the needed conversation. As such allow these things to be your guide that will enhance the prospect of the success you want and need to have.
- Outline the conversation you intend to have indicating the key points that relate your perspective. Use this only as your guide as it is unlikely that the conversation will flow exactly as you may envision
- Establish a time to meet with the other person in a way that will encourage them to want to be involved rather than coming across as an attack or threat i.e. ‘There’s a something I’d like to discuss with you that will help us be more collectively successful” or “I would like to have a clearer understand of how you view a certain situation so that we can be more closely aligned in how we move forward together”.
- Make certain that all of your points focus on the situation and NOT the person. Doing this you will avoid the other person feeling attacked. Fail to do this and it isa sure way to bring effective communication to a screeching halt
- Seek out and acknowledge the view of the other person to let them know they have been heard and understood
- With such an understanding, be willing to alter your own view if it makes sense
- Be prepared to offer possible solutions that are based on the combination of your input and that of the other person’s.
The important message I want to convey is that I cannot recall a single incident wherein an unaddressed and unresolved conflict represents a positive to the impacted person. Some have tried to make light of it by joking around. Others have tried to focus on the work friendship they have had in the past. And because we are not generally mind readers, nothing is resolved and our frustration continues. With
thoughtful planning along with one’s determination to rid themselves of the discomfort/pain, we can put our issues to bed in one way or another. Chances are weighted heavily on the side of a positive outcome for all.