Dealing with obstinate people:

Sometimes I just wonder why God made some people so obstinate? I mean, particularly people being negative and obstinate or people being obstinate but adaptive. Earlier, many times I myself use to ask me “Did you behave today a little obstinate manner?” Over a period of time, I started analyzing my own behaviour on certain issues. That is when someone advised me to “look towards the issues from a third person perspective when in straights”.

Of course, the problem becomes a little tricky when the obstinate person is a key member of your team or your boss, colleague, a family member or even associates of any term.

Having gone through these kind of situations not once but many a times, allow me suggest that unless you are new to the set-up and inherited some of these kind of people, you should be thorough with your homework before you let the person (if found negative in approach) push issues from bad to worse.

Unfortunately, none of us can claim that our way, our thinking, our approach is the only perfect ones. Many a times, we start leading by virtue of a responsibility conferred on us by the powers that be though we may or may not be perfect in leading from the front. In such cases, I have an afterthought to deal with an obstinate colleague, boss or elder.

I was pretty much determined that I have to navigate sitting in my position and I will. I was also determined that I will do so by making people see my reasoning even if it means rubbing someone or getting rubbed of self.

Use to confront most or all of the following —

I use to have all the facts in its order of priority.

I use to talk to the persons concerned briefly and in confidence – one to one. Even after that if I fail, that is when I start looking at the third person’s perspective. What if this problem is elsewhere and I am called to be the ombudsman? Now I will translate myself into an ombudsman’s position and start analyzing the entire things from that position.

You are always going to have obstinate people and it is for us to pick our battles wisely. In most cases, however, wisdom expressed by leadership would say do not blow it out of proportion. Yes, it is annoying, but as a leader you need to be able to effectively deal with annoyances. You may have to live with it.

After all, you are the one, responsible for moving the mission forward and for the development of the set-up. Do not let the obstinacy of any one individual of this world detract you. If you surrender to such issues, you wont be able to lead at all.

You will either gain a trusted friend or you will move the problem out of leadership. Maybe you’ll do both.

 

Madhu K. Nair [25th August 2003]

Before Reacting….

Our initial response to many situations may not always be best, learning or practicing the art of pausing before reacting can prove helpful while climbing the ladder of career or even business.

We all have the experience of reacting in a particular way – most of the time in an unwarranted manner – while hearing bad news, or being unfairly criticized, or being told something we don’t want to hear. In a way this makes sense because when one’s emotions are triggered, it tend to take center stage, inhibiting our ability to pause before we speak, I feel. One may feel compelled to release the tension by expressing ourselves in some way, whether it’s yelling back at the person yelling at us. However, there is much to be said for teaching ourselves to remember to pause before we respond to the shocks and insults that can come our way in life.

For one thing, one’s initial response is not always the best for both the people involved. Reacting to a childish rage with an equally matching childish rage will only escalate the negativity in the situation, further catching us in an undesirable situation. Similarly, if we react defensively, or thoughtlessly, we often end up regretting over one’s own words or actions. This doesn’t necessarily mean we don’t say anything or react vociferously, although in some cases, that may be the best option.

Some situations will, of course, require a fairly immediate response, but even in such situation if one could hold on for just a moment before we do so can help to a large extent. The next time you find yourself wanting to react, try to pause a second and then see the difference. Should wait for a response to arise within, rather than just shooting with the first thing that pops out of one’s head. In that moment, one will realise that there is an option to move beyond a wild reaction and settle for a subtle response. This can pave way for a new understanding.

 

Madhu K. Nair [19th August 2008]

Tolerance; guidance and then Success

When we were engineers, we were rewarded for our technical skills and the labour we put in direct proportion to what we could accomplish. Then when you grow to a manager, the success is measured not by the individual output hut by the overall output and productivity of the people we supervise. This is when that sense of not being in direct control can be a frustrating, particularly if things do not notch upto the expectations.

At the same time, working with others and extracting them to give you their best can be just as rewarding as technical accomplishments . . .

 

The most valuable qualities you can develop within yourself on your own are patience on one hand and consideration for other people on the other. Machines don’t care whether you scream or curse at them, people do. Your subordinates are not just engineers, supervisors, technicians and clerks they’re human beings, first. They too are people with families and friends, likes and dislikes, complexes as well as feelings. If not respecting them as people at least one has to consider them as people who deserve a decent treatment and you will sure get their respect and loyalty in return.   Give your people the same kindness and consideration that you would expect to receive if you were in their place.

 

As a manager, it’s part of your job to keep your people on the right track. And that involves pointing out errors and telling them where they’ve gone wrong. A Manager should also have a capacity or foresight to understand the caliper of his men and what they are likely to do when given a task. Instead of waiting for him / her to commit a mistake and then criticize them, the manager can well guide in advance so that (i) he or she does not commit the mistake at all thereby saving lot of time and (ii) you could enhance his morale and confidence. Do you like being criticized every time by your seniors or do you like to be guided? Exactly that is what those below you too will be expecting of you. The company makes you the boss because you have more knowledge and experience in your field than a good chunk of people you supervise. Having accepted that position you have a responsibility to guide and teach these people rather than shouting or criticizing at every instance.

 

To be a successful manager you should know that the best way for his people to learn and grow is through experience and that means taking chances and, may be, making some errors. When we are tempted to shout or raise the finger on others, take a second to rewind the cassette “did I commit similar mistakes and somebody allowed me get away and that made me so confident today?” the answer you get should be the deciding factor how you treat others when they commit a mistake or fail in their task. To test each individual, we can always give a chance to try new task without a supervisor looking over his or her shoulders but only on smaller, less crucial ones. That way, mistakes won’t hurt the company and can be quickly and easily corrected. On major projects, where performance is critical, you’ll want to give as much supervision as is needed to ensure successful completion of the task.

 

Another crucial aspect of being the head is to make yourself available to those who come to you for guidance, support or any kind of outright help. However busy you may be you have to make it a point to attend to them. Many times you can tell them to come back a little later after listening to them; but never shout or bark at them and send them back. Then they will never willingly to come to you and this can have serious consequences in the work front.

Certain things dampen employee motivation and primarily if the Manager himself is less attentive to their problems their motivation will be killed. As a manager, you may have a dozen things to worry about but still you have to keep it aside when one of your shop person walks up to you for any kind of clarification which is stopping his progress.

So, although you’ve got a lot to do, give your first attention to approving, reviewing, and okaying projects in progress. If employees stop by to ask a question or discuss a project, attend them calmly and dispose. If you’re pressed for time, try make it short and explain or you can call them back. This will let your people know you are genuinely interested and will not shy away from coming to you as often it is needed.

If your people complain about work conditions, listen – whether or not you may be able to accommodate the request. By providing the right equipment or workspace, you can achieve increases in output . . . open with a minimal investment. If they are asking for something which is not immediately affordable, explain them instead of asking them to get lost. You will be able to improve the workplace little by little with the help of some small adjustments in our attitude towards them.

 

 

If one has to grow he has to be a person open to fresh ideas, innovative and a person willing to take calculated risks that change the working philosophy itself. Stereotype Manager is not any corporate will want to own. They may have such managers; but they wont prefer to own them. A real Manager will have to keep thinking for some better changes always, better methods that can accelerate the production without compromising the quality at a lesser cost.

 

You will have to extract innovation from your people; but you have to be receptive to new ideas and moreover it will never hurt you if you give a pat on the back of your boys and them to produce new ideas. Once they are convinced that their boss does listen employee suggestions and ideas to work they will feel elated and come with more ideas. Many of their suggestions could be trash. Even if you get one idea click the efforts would have paid off. But to gain this trust you will have to be a good listener. The moment you shout down before even heard the person in full, be sure that you have lost the ground. Many managers have a habit of saying “we have tried and know it doesn’t work”. You have to understand that certain technique adopted and failed in the past does not mean that it wont work today. It is the question of giving a try or convincing the person as to why you don’t want to do it that way for the time being.

You have to be receptive to ideas from any person – big or small – to achieve real success in your profession.

 

Madhu K. Nair [19-07-2006]

On the Course of becoming a Boss…!!

When we were engineers, we were rewarded for our technical skills and the labour we put in direct proportion to what we could accomplish. Then when you grow to a manager, the success is measured not by the individual output hut by the overall output and productivity of the people we supervise. This is when that sense of not being in direct control can be a frustrating, particularly if things do not notch upto the expectations.

At the same time, working with others and extracting them to give you their best can be just as rewarding as technical accomplishments . . .

The most valuable qualities you can develop within yourself on your own are patience on one hand and consideration for other people on the other. Machines don’t care whether you scream or curse at them, people do. Your subordinates are not just engineers, supervisors, technicians and clerks they’re human beings, first. They too are people with families and friends, likes and dislikes, complexes as well as feelings. If not respecting them as people at least one has to consider them as people who deserve a decent treatment and you will sure get their respect and loyalty in return.   Give your people the same kindness and consideration that you would expect to receive if you were in their place.

As a manager, it’s part of your job to keep your people on the right track. And that involves pointing out errors and telling them where they’ve gone wrong. A Manager should also have a capacity or foresight to understand the caliper of his men and what they are likely to do when given a task. Instead of waiting for him / her to commit a mistake and then criticize them, the manager can well guide in advance so that (i) he or she does not commit the mistake at all thereby saving lot of time and (ii) you could enhance his morale and confidence. Do you like being criticized every time by our seniors or do you like to be guided? Exactly that is what those below you too will be expecting of you. The company makes you the boss because you have more knowledge and experience in your field than a good chunk of people you supervise. Having accepted that position you have a responsibility to guide and teach these people rather than shouting or criticizing at every instance.

To be a successful manager you should know that the best way for his people to learn and grow is through experience and that means taking chances and, may be, making some errors. When we are tempted to shout or raise the finger on others, take a second to rewind the cassette “did I commit similar mistakes and somebody allowed me get away and that made me so confident today?” the answer you get should be the deciding factor how you treat others when they commit a mistake or fail in their task. To test each individual, we can always give a chance to try new task without a supervisor looking over his or her shoulders but only on smaller, less crucial ones. That way, mistakes won’t hurt the company and can be quickly and easily corrected. On major projects, where performance is critical, you’ll want to give as much supervision as is needed to ensure successful completion of the task.

Another crucial aspect of being the head is to make yourself available to those who come to you for guidance, support or any kind of outright help. However busy you may be you have to make it a point to attend to them. Many times you can tell them to come back a little later after listening to them; but never shout or bark at them and send them back. Then they will never willingly to come to you and this can have serious consequences in the work front.

Certain things dampen employee motivation and primarily if the Manager himself is less attentive to their problems their motivation will be killed. As a manager, you may have a dozen things to worry about but still you have to keep it aside when one of your shop person walks up to you for any kind of clarification which is stopping his progress.

So, although you’ve got a lot to do, give your first attention to approving, reviewing, and okaying projects in progress. If employees stop by to ask a question or discuss a project, attend them calmly and dispose. If you’re pressed for time, try make it short and explain or you can call them back. This will let your people know you are genuinely interested and will not shy away from coming to you as often it is needed.

If your people complain about work conditions, listen – whether or not you may be able to accommodate the request. By providing the right equipment or workspace, you can achieve increases in output . . . open with a minimal investment. If they are asking for something which is not immediately affordable, explain them instead of asking them to get lost. You will be able to improve the workplace little by little with the help of some small adjustments in our attitude towards them.

If one has to grow he has to be a person open to fresh ideas, innovative and a person willing to take calculated risks that change the working philosophy itself. Stereotype Manager is not any corporate will want to own. They may have such managers; but they wont prefer to own them. A real Manager will have to keep thinking for some better changes always, better methods that can accelerate the production without compromising the quality at a lesser cost.

You will have to extract innovation from your people; but you have to be receptive to new ideas and moreover it will never hurt you if you give a pat on the back of your boys and them to produce new ideas. Once they are convinced that their boss does listen employee suggestions and ideas to work they will feel elated and come with more ideas. Many of their suggestions could be trash. Even if you get one idea click the efforts would have paid off. But to gain this trust you will have to be a good listener. The moment you shout down before even heard the person in full, be sure that you have lost the ground. Many managers have a habit of saying “we have tried and know it doesn’t work”. You have to understand that certain technique adopted and failed in the past does not mean that it wont work today. It is the question of giving a try or convincing the person as to why you don’t want to do it that way for the time being.

You have to be receptive to ideas from any person – big or small – to achieve real success in your profession.

 

Real Value of Teamwork…!!

Whenever one talks about teamwork what immediately come to the mind of a person is Sports. Whereas, the value of teamwork can be regularly felt in everything we carry out. If not very often, each of us in our life would have seen lesser-known team with still lesser-known individual players outplaying the established star teams. This happens more out of the teamwork than because of the strength of individual players.

To me teamwork doesn’t mean everybody doing the same thing or everybody stepping on to each other’s jobs. It’s more a means to pull in synergies by which the total output should always stand greater than the individual. If properly managed, teamwork can maximize the strengths, bringing out the best in each team member. These specific, or unique individual strengths can be complimented or supplemented by the strengths of other members of the team to function as a unit. 
With teamwork and right spirits we can achieve even seemingly impossible tasks. This is applicable to all fields – be that professional, personal, or social context. To me the question that could be asked to ourselves is, are we aiming for a team “dominated by high calipered individualistic, self-seeking people delivering lackluster performance” or “mixture of high calipered & mediocre people delivering the impossible through and efforts and teamwork”?

In my opinion, one should always realise that we should not shunt away negative company / role model in one stroke because even these negativities do teach us a lot for our own future treads. The teaching will be “What we shouldn’t be doing at all under any circumstances” and to me this is most important of all the things what we get to learn.

These are the times when one should look to create a good circle of one’s own because the members of such circle will never let the other down. And this is Teamwork where each person creates a company of friends to take on any task at any given point of time with full confidence that it would be accomplished. And when the real recognition of the accomplishment comes that too is shared by all in equal terms.

For that matter not all teams need to be made up of friends nor do they need to be, in order to be effective. It can or cannot be close friends; but it has to be people who respect each other for whatever is one capable of because such people will hold together when situations turn demanding. Teamwork does however, have the potential to promote a fulfilling, meaningful way of working together.

Why I feel teamwork important – in spite of the fact that it’s not necessarily an easy option – is my experience of working with many groups on worthwhile activities with common goal, ending up with the most rewarding and enjoyable aspects of work.

As some intelligent person said some time back “Look..!! there is no ‘I’ in Teamwork.

[Madhu K. Nair – 23rd December 2012]

Self Efficiency…!!

If I, myself, doubt my own efficiency of getting things done it means I will most likely hit failure. So, the very first quality one has to develop is self-efficiency and belief that ‘Yes’ I can do it. Anyone who overlooks this quality as a necessity will hit hurdles what he/she does sooner or later.

Self-efficiency according to me is one’s belief about his/her capabilities to accomplish certain pre-determined performance at certain levels that will eventually have an influence on the professional front or personal life or both. It is this self-efficiency that makes people think and motivate themselves to carry out certain things in certain ways or behave in certain ways on certain occasions.

A strong sense of efficiency improves personal accomplishment in any thing one indulges in. Those with high level of commitments and confidence in their capabilities look straight at difficult tasks as a challenge to tackle than as a threat to be ducked. Such should be the benchmarks created that commitment levels too will have to be raised by default to avoid possible failures. With highly improved self-efficiency levels, one can always face damning situations with re-assurance of having the capacity to exercise control over the situation. Also one can recover from any failure or setback pretty fast than looking for excuses around to justify such failures or setbacks.

On the contrary, I have seen many people who shy away from difficult tasks because they fear that if they fail it will doom their aspirations. For me such individuals’ means those with very low aspirations and zero commitment to the goals they choose to pursue. And the moment they are given a task they will first start with their personal short-falls, on to the obstacles they are likely to encounter, on to all kinds of probable adverse outcomes rather than concentrate on how to perform successfully by hook or crook. They will suddenly slacken their efforts and call ‘SoS’ in the face of difficulties. The worst with these kinds of individuals are that they are most un-likely to recover from such failures or setbacks.

If people experience only successes they tempt to expect quick results and even a simple failure encountered can put them down. This is when elders say “setbacks in human pursuits serve a useful purpose in teaching that success usually requires sustained effort.” If one has to taste success more often, they have to go through a strict regime of perseverance when faced with adversity and bounce back from setbacks. One emerges stronger from such adversities, which again supplements to the persons capacity to improve self-efficiency.

One thing that comes to my mind while on this subject is, many times seeing colleagues – succeed by sustained effort – raises one’s belief that they too possess the same capabilities to master comparable activities required to succeed. Similarly friends / colleagues or even family members too can play a significant role in motivating an individual to develop his skills, commitment levels and self efficiency by timely appreciation.

[Madhu K. Nair – 5th May 2012]

Talent; Passion and Attitude

“Learn from your surroundings and from what you see, hear and read” was the last piece of advice from my Dad while leaving home for my first ever job. How much it has come to my help in both personal and professional life is beyond I can explain. One thing I learnt all through these years is there are few keys that lead one to success and then sustaining that success. When one look back at one’s own career, talents and motivations added with those what you learn from your experience only can push one to conquer frontiers – one after another. Here they are in their order of importance from my perception.

PASSION is what fires any creative person, something that gets you angry, or something you love and want to share. Passion brings in vision and then dreams. That vision leads to setting goals, short as well as long-term goals. Passion brings in a kind of discipline into anything and everything one does.   These disciplines help you to achieve your short-term or long-term goals.

I do not know even one person in my life so far; who has succeeded without taking a well assessed RISK and then lives with the consequence – either success or failure. Risk avoidance is a sure way to remain mediocre; being safe does not necessarily promote personal growth. Failure or making a mistake is not that bad a proposition; it’s proof you were exploring, daring and experimenting new ways of doing something. We learn from our mistakes, not our successes. Those people who have ideas bubbling within and are creative in real sense never shy away from taking risk. They do not mind losing, provided they have either means or ways to sustain and move forward. There is an old saying “A bend in the road is not the end of the road…. unless one fail to make the turn at the right time”.

Such people give more importance to SELF-ESTEEM than any other materialistic things. To an onlooker such people may seem to be arrogant / heady or whatever other synonyms; but the fact remains since these people make themselves out of nowhere they are tempted to carry themselves as “I don’t care the world”. This attitude cannot be termed as wrong; it is just that they think well of themselves. Keep an eye on the behavioral pattern of such people and you fill find that they always understand the talents of others and will never shy away from motivating them.

PATIENCE & PERSISTENCE is in a way go automatically with those who strictly follow certain disciplines. Discipline is simply doing things at the right time, right place and precisely. The first thing is knowing what to do and when. So, priorities starting from the short-term ones to long-term ones will have to be in front of us day in and day out. Once ready with this, it only takes a right mixture of dedication and determination to succeed or excel which in turn help one reach the goal.

One’s hunger for success has a direct relation with his or her team building capacity and leadership qualities. Elders say a LEADER particularly has to be NICE AND FRIENDLY with people within and outside the organisation. Be good to a Mentor (if you have or consider anyone so) and be nice to your Clients and customers. Be soft but firm with your colleagues and sub-ordinates. Without these qualities inculcated within, one must know that their career existence will hit ZERO sooner than later. Look upto your mentor as many times as you may require for guidance – this can steer you from every situation – as he / she may be able to give you a better path from their past experience.

I would say, TALENT, one should have some – definitely not a whole lot – to succeed. When I say whole lot what I mean is extraordinarily talented individuals. At least, I have seen highly talented persons whose talents withered away with time because many of them think that they cannot share space with lesser talented ones. A bunch of youngsters with positive frame of mind, with enough fire in the belly to excel in whatever they do is more than enough for a determined leader to strike success.

Success is not a matter of being talented. I put talent last on the list. I know many people who are talented lack one or more of other keys to meet success.

Please don’t blame your lack of success on your lack of talent. Rather go by another old saying “Attitude will determine your Altitude, not your talent or lack of it.

 

[Madhu K. Nair – 16th Jan to 22nd Feb 2003]

The Threat within….

My Perception Sitting in my corner I felt that the day of reckoning is not too far. The present situation and conditions will not continue for long and a ruckus is un-avoidable – as I foresee. Question is today, tomorrow or a while later.

I have often come across people who achieve an incredible degree of worldly success, but remain under tremendous pressure. They remain mentally stressed and physically drained. Though they achieve growth and take up additional responsibilities, their mental pressure also increases proportionately. With all the success and glory they achieve, you will find them struggling with a deep personal need for developing their relationships with other people. The reason for this contradiction is that the fundamental values and principles of life such individuals focused upon are much less understood; rather, I would dare say that a need to understand anybody for that matter is not considered necessary as days pass by.

Now-a-days youngsters take it for granted that stylish living comes naturally as we grow up; but that does not happen. One has to be dynamic in their respective field of activity and at the same time maintain peace of mind while focusing on their goals. This requires lot of patience and perseverance, which, in my view, is missing with the current breed. More specifically one need to know (1) what life is all about (2) imbibe qualities from whosoever is one’s hero and more than all (3) willingness to try and practice whatever has been learnt and imbibed. Real nd enduring happiness is a result of integrating the time-tested values and principles of life with every activity in our everyday living. I firmly believe – of course with enough reasons from the life I lived for the past 39 odd years outside the protective wings of my parents – that in the absence of a reasonably disciplined and self-trained approach no one should expect success come their way and in the course one will be deprived of peace too.

Also, it is true that many of the next generation people find it difficult to digest these talks and simply ignore the conventions as old methods. Persons like me get scared and anxiety starts building up. As parents – since we know for sure that life can’t be simple without practicing discipline – we try to foresee the future of such youngsters and the impending threats that they are likely to face due to the un-organised life-style.

May be, even my apprehensions may prove wrong (I too wish so) and I will be happiest soul, if the apprehensions prove wrong. At the same time, my worldly experience says “it will be a wishful thinking that the apprehensions proving wrong”. [Madhu K. Nair – 12th to 17th August 2010]

Youth: Today & Tomorrow.

There is always a tendency among the elders of society to find fault with the youth in anything and everything today’s youth is into. Though, I don’t subscribe to this line of thought, I too many times – especially when we go through the news involving youth – sit back and analyse; is there some truth in what the elders perceive of the youth??

 

The moral values that were believed to be the foundation stone for every individual is declining steadfastly – if one can say so. Either today’s youth (exceptions please excuse-it is not about them) fail to understand that there is deep relationship between youth and moral Values or they do not consider the old values fit for today’s cultural scenario or they are not taught about the value of these Values from the early days it self.

 

If youths adopt mainstays of moral values (if not all) and lead their life in line with it, they can turn out more responsible than they actually are today to perform their duty. They have an added advantage as compared to their earlier generation and that is (i) “Information” at their fingertips (ii) the world on their fingertips (iii) and better and competitive education on a comparative note. With the above advantages, the youth should be conquering more and more than becoming a subject matter to discuss in every forum related youth or new generation.

We can subscribe many reasons for being anxious about the future generation. The reasons dominating the list, to my understanding, seems to be the nuclear family concept where majority of the children is deprived of the small talks, small stories, lack of proximity of senior members of the family etc.. They are deprived of “Gurus’” of substance (exceptions may please excuse). Education system on the whole has been made percentage oriented. How you score the percentage becomes secondary as long you bring laurels to the institution by contributing in terms of percentages.

 

Moral values has to descend to the youth from early days from the parents / grant parents first and as he / she grows the society adds to it and then comes the Gurus. None of these contributing elements can wash their hands off from a deteriorating scenario of “Youth and Moral values”. And the youth has to realise that there is great expectation from them for their families, society and the nation on whole. And anything without the strong foundation of Moral Values cannot stand the test of the emerging world.

Won’t you agree that awaking moral values in youth can greatly influence the menace today the country on the whole is facing? Black marketing, adulteration, cheating, fraud and manipulation, hoarding and many other things which I don’t want to mention here. Decades back Swami Vivekananda had struggled to awake moral values in youth. He said always, awake, arise and not stop till goal is achieved. Today that call is proving all the more relevant. Today’s seminar on the subject is the solid proof that “yes, it is all the more relevant in today’s world”.

 

Before I conclude, there can’t be anything more helpful to one’s self than realization from within and self analytical capacities to rejuvenate the moral values that are already embedded in each of us.

 

Before we close our eyes in the night every day if we are successful in asking 3 questions to ourselves (introspection) (a) could I be of any help to any one person / any one cause / or any such thing that has societal impact (b) anything I need to store and put into practice from whatever I saw or listened today and lastly (c) could I inspire or motivate even one person today. If any one answer is “Yes” then you made it……

Rtn. Madhu K. Nair

4th October 2012.

Managing Conflicts and Disagreements

.Managing conflicts and disagreements with colleagues and associates has become part of a daily routine as such events have become inevitable part of our profession. Benefitting or not benefitting from such situations solely depends on what kind of situation the parties are in and how it is dealt. You can sometimes benefit from conflict, avoid hurt feelings and damaged relationships by resolving disputes through respect, negotiation, and little bit of compromise too.

We don’t need to engage in open tussle over every disagreement. At the end every professional / executive / individual has a perspective different than many others. Once we realise that others too have their view, one may not get sucked into conflicts that can be detrimental to the interests of both the parties. If both sides keep an equilibrium and work, then everything else will fall in line. If you feel that working through the disagreement is more important than maintaining the peace, then nothing in the world can resolve it. And if the debate is likely to create more problems than it solves it is better to remain neutral or change the track itself.

 

The minimum one should do in the event of a conflict is to keep away from it for a while so that the person gets sufficient time to think of the situation a little more clearly and can crystallise the possible or next workable strategy.

However, the best way, undisputable, is to avoid a conflict and if and when you start smelling a possible one, it is much better to start looking the other way. And, with a cool head, look at the situation much more closely and try to nip the possible reason in the bud itself. There can be no room for wishful thinking in such issues because one cannot predict what turn small conflicts are likely to take eventually. The worst is to underestimate person on the other side of the table.

When we talk about managing conflicts, the very first lesson is that one has to learn to listen; not necessarily digesting what one heard in its entirety. Practice the “shut up and listen” technique. While it is a must listening to others, forming an opinion or acting on such information and the final judgment should always be on one’s own. Many times the informers also could be opinionated persons and taking a position on such opinions may prove suicidal.

Many times it is not that none of the other person’s points can be agreed. There could always be a point or two where both may agree and my experience says it is always better to start from those little points that are agreeable to both. At least the effected party among the two is likely to a get a signal that you are trying to understand their point of view as well, and they may show more willingness to listen to yours. Whatever could be provocation, if any one of the parties takes the others statement on person, there is every chance of the initiative breaking down; and always better to avoid personal attacks or comments? Don’t make the conflict individual centric, make it issue centric.

Similarly, I firmly believe that by focusing on one issue or conflict at a time, there are always chances to manage it better. I have found that it is the secondary issues that cloud the main issue. Knowingly or unknowingly we allow it to happen and get strayed away from the core issue. It is always better to remain non-judgmental about our counterpart when we approach an issue of serious consequence because by being so, one is most likely to resolve the issue. Who won should not be the end of an issue? Is the issue well settled is going to be the last question. Before approaching the issue one should assess the possible outcome of each tactic we intent to use and accordingly a sensible line should be adopted.

Each of us at some point of time might have wished before entering the discussion that “with my argument I am not going to allow the other person to get away just like that”. Whereas the fact is that when you stop trying to “defeat your opponent,” you’ll be more receptive to good ideas and resolve conflicts quicker. We can’t change everything or everybody. You can’t force others to agree with you; so no meaning to keep arguing in an attempt to do so. Since we can’t change the past either, it is absurd to get caught up in a conflict about something that’s already happened. Even if the person / persons opposite you are proven rogues, you cant afford to disrespect them in a forum. By rubbing or intimidating, conflicts can’t be resolved amicably is the proven fact.

Therefore, if nothing works, we can always disagree with the other person and walk away by agreeing to settle the things at the earliest. But I, still, emphasise that before disagreeing totally, it is always better to make a sound evaluation – preferably through a third person – because this could help us evaluate a similar situation elsewhere, should it recur.

For me, every conflict faced, indulged and resolved always gave professional growth in terms of dealing with situations. In addition, such situations gave me an unknown capacity to foresee and pre-empt any possible conflicts arising out of decisions. And this is the premises that prompted me to scribble down what I think is right in resolving conflicts.

The more you understand about managing conflicts and disagreements, you will be better placed to negotiate, compromise, and emerge from disputes of any kind with stronger and more productive relationships.

 

Madhu K. Nair [23rd August 2003]

Footnote:

Every conflict you manage, dispute you resolve or fail to resolve can make you a man of maturity as well a man of steel. These small experiences prepare you to foresee and pre-empt possible conflicts / disputes arising out of the decisions you intent to make in the immediate future. All depends on what one learns from the day’s encounters.