Thursday, March 31, 2016

5 Ways to Approach Conflict (without ending up with a Kryptonite spear in your chest)

The big movie at the moment is Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. Huge opening. Lousy reviews. Great movie - but I'm biased. I've been waiting for this film for years, and I'm a huge comic book fan - specifically DC Comics, and there stable of heroes that include Wonder Woman, Flash, Green Lantern, Aquaman, and hundreds of others.

So I loved it, for the most part. Still, one aspect really bugged me, as a communications coach.


When the big promised battle between Bats and Supes is about to begin, it's because Luthor has manipulated the two. He's convinced Batman that Superman is a menace, and kidnapped Superman's mom, telling our hero that unless he kills 'The Bat' she will die. Darn those super-villains!

The face-off starts promising enough. Superman tells Batman he needs his help. As he steps forward, he triggers a booby trap of hail and ice bullets. Pushing through that, instead of asking again, or, heaven forbid, telling him WHY he needs his help (Bruce, we need to save my MOM!), he pushes him across the roof, and a 10 minute battle ensues before Lois walks in and cooler heads prevail.

I understand they had to fight - it's the selling point of the movie. But c'mon. Two top-notch heroes fighting because they can't even communicate? Terrible.

While most of us will never be in the middle of a literally earth-shattering conflict, most any conflict can feel that way to us when we're in the middle of it. Our egos, our relationships, our livelihoods are often at stake - or at least FEEL as if they are at stake.

5 Ways to Approach Conflict

1. Set boundaries, expectations, and outcomes for the conversation.
2. Be willing to try more than ONCE to get your point across, before resorting to anger.
3. Disarm your 'opponent' emotionally by letting them know you understand their side of the conflict.
4. Avoid becoming overly defensive OR offensive, which takes you both off point, and into an emotional state that is harder to control than an objective state that focuses on the actual issues.
5. Bring in a third party to arbitrate/defuse the tension.

If you're headed into a potentially contentious discussion with peers, clients, competitors, or even your boss, you'll want to avoid having it end with a Kryptonite spear plunging into your chest.

In the meantime - go take a kid to BvS - cause I really want more movies. After that, go Speak...& Deliver!

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