Conflict is a part of our everyday life, and I always say, those that can handle conflict and solve problems will rise to the top and enjoy greater levels of success. The trouble, is no one really teaches us how to handle, communicate, or act through a steam pot blowing over the situation and lower the steam, and if you were like me in Nels version 1.0, I was a rockstar at blowing the lid off the steam pot. Little did I know, those immature, distrustful, attack the wounded antics were not only harmful to our success but were even more damaging for the team member. The real challenge is that for most “go-getters” passionate about growing organizations, we unknowingly constantly create conflict and chaos because we often don’t have the right culture in place, the systems, and procedures, and the right people in the right seats on the bus as we scale things up.
It took me way too long, and through some lessons by my wife, an awesome Pastor, and great parents, but along the way, one can realize that if we would just extend some love and grace in conflict, rather than hateful, hurtful, often times venomous words, we would be much more successful at conflict resolution. One of the powerful lessons my wife taught me was a good number of years ago, and we were having one of our nightly discussion, and we were standing there discussing problem-solving. And I always tell her, “I solve problems, whether it’s at work, or feedyards, or clinic clients, or people issues, or our family.” And she said, “You know Nels, this is sometimes what you do.” And she took her right hand, reached into her chest, grabbed her heart, throw it down on the floor and stomped on it! And I stood there looking at her. Blank, dumbfounded face, speechless, yet, with full reflection and some humility, fully understand the point she was trying to make with me. And I stood there, looked at her, and said, “You know you are right.” And it was a watershed moment of cold raw truth from my wife, who had watched me operate, interact, and problem solve, in many different settings and situations, yet knew I needed a lesson in love and grace. And it was at that moment, I knew I had to not only extend love and grace more, but I had to truly understand what those words meant as well, likely before my actions were ever truly meaningful and genuine, in extension of two powerful terms of love and grace.
It is in conflict that we must show a person true heartfelt compassion and grace, and focus on the resolution, not just the conflict. If the person you are dealing with, be it your team member, your spouse, your child, or your parent is only getting your fire, flames, and heat, the conflict will likely continue to burn and do so even brighter. Rather than ripping some one’s heart out, how can we focus on the solution? How can we focus on the commonalities in the solution? How can we focus on the commonalities of what brought us to the table? How can we focus on the common desired outcome above all else? If we don’t do those things, we will get the common casualties of conflict and those are more drama, uncomfortable tensions, and broken relationships. And at the end of the day, I fully believe most all normal, compassionate, caring, human beings do not want to see those casualties! Extending or showing some love and grace in those fiery, tense moments will begin to create a culture better equipped to resolve the conflict. And what we do know, is all great organizations create a culture of love and grace, with accountability as our guide! Happy Leadership Thursday!