Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Win-Win Conflict Resolution - A Face-off

In Part One I outlined a simple four-step process for resolving conflict in a way that allows both people to get what they need.

Now, illustrate the four steps...

Steve: “I’m not going to St. Louis with you.“

Jill: “You’re what? What are you talking about? I need you there!“

Steve: “I’ve got too much on my plate, Jill. Besides, this is your project, not mine. “

Jill: “But you have to be there. You’re the technical expert, not me. What if they have tech questions I can’t answer?“

Steve: “You’ve been selling this software for two years. I’ve seen you do demos. You’re all over it. There won’t be any questions you can’t answer. Besides, I really am swamped.“

Jill: “Oh, Steve, for God’s sake, why are you hitting me with this right now? We’ve always pitched these big contracts together. I feel we have to put our best foot forward on this one.“

Steve: “I told you, I have other things I’ve got to do.“

Jill: “What do I have to do to get you to go with me?“

Steve: “Nothing. I’m not going. You’ll do fine.”

Jill: “I’m not going up there without you, and that’s that.”

Steve: “Nonsense. Look, it looks like we don’t agree on this. Would you be willing to explore some other possibilities?”

Jill: “What do you mean? “

Steve: “I mean, you’re saying that you’re reluctant to talk with the client without a tech expert waiting in the wings.”

Jill: “That’s correct.”

Steve: “So, tell me in so many words why this is so important to you. Why do you need me there?”

Jill: “I already told you. It’s important we get this contract. We need to blow them away. What if their IT guy is there and asks some weird techie question? You know it happens sometimes. I’m just not confident I can handle it right.”

Steve: “And you feel that my being there will take care of that.”

Jill: “Absolutely.”

Steve: “Well I have to admit that would work. It always has. But can I tell you why I need to stay here?”

Jill: “Okay. Why?”

Steve: “It’s because we start changing our hosting service this weekend, and I’m going to have to work day and night for five days straight. This has to happen this weekend, and there are a million things we have to do to get ready for this. All our systems will be transferred to the new service. I just have to be here, or it won’t happen. If the transfer fails, all our systems will be down big-time. You don’t even want to think about what that will mean.”

Jill: “Oh my God, what am I going to do?”

Steve: “Hang on. Stay with me. Let’s think about this outside the box. There may be a way for you to go up there with all the tech support you need.“

Jill: “How?”

Steve: “Well, the outside-the-box question is, how can you make your presentation knowing that any weird tech questions will get the right answers real-time, while I remain behind to manage the system transition. What are some ways for you to get what you need while I get what I need?”

Jill: “Ha! How about you postpone the transition?”

Steve: “I’m serious. Give it some thought.”

Jill: “Okay. Well, how about if Phil goes with me? He’s pretty smart, even though he’s never done this before.”

Steve: “Okay, that’s worth considering. My turn. How about you postpone your presentation?”

Jill: “I’m trying to keep my mind open, even though that one scares me.”

Steve: “I have another idea. What if we set up your laptop for video teleconferencing? We have the technology. I can be on call during your presentation and you can have my live talking head whenever you need me.”

Jill: “That’s interesting.”

Steve: “You know, not many of our clients have seen anything that slick. It might even be more impressive than having me there.”

Jill: “And in a way, you would be there.”

Steve: “That’s right. You know, I’d be willing to do that. It would involve only a few minutes of my time, at most, and it might even turn out to be a better model for future sales calls. Does this approach meet your needs?”

Jill: “You know, Steve, it just might. It never occurred to me to do that. But if you can give me a couple trial runs and prove to me that it works, I think I’d be willing to give it a try.”

Steve: “You got it.”

* * * * * * * * *
You're probably wondering if it's really this simple. It can be, if you follow the four steps faithfully, just as Steve did. To review the four steps, see Part One.

Post by Dennis E. Coates, Ph.D., Copyright 2010. Building Personal Strength .

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