Sometimes you have to make a mess before you can clean it up. Many of you have had the experience of cleaning out closets and drawers to make room for the things you really use and need. Often, by the time you pull open a few drawers and determine what you have, you realize that you need a full-on organizational overhaul. All of the contents end up spread around in a huge mess, BUT, when you can put it all back together, it’s much better than it would have been if you’d just pulled a few items out of each drawer – or worse, stuffed additional things in without reorganizing first.
The same is true when we start digging into anything “potentially ugly” in the workplace. When we start experiencing problems such as conflict with a partner or colleague, we have the choice to “stuff our drawers” or truly evaluate what’s there, find the root cause of the issue, and begin working on a resolution. One conflict “revelation” often leads to another (and another) previously hidden item, and we will have the opportunity to really clean up the messes in our relationship. Or, we can revert to stuffing our feelings, ignoring the new problems that have come to light, or even give up on the relationship. Your commitment and the effort you put into the process makes all the difference!
When we are not open and honest with partners, co-workers, or others about secret disappointments, anger, or hurt and our true thoughts and feelings begin to emerge, it can open up a floodgate of unexpected information from both parties. It can be intimidating or unpleasant at times – just like cleaning out closets and drawers. Once both individuals begin sharing thoughts and feelings openly, there may be even further hurts or anger to move through together, but this is a necessary process to get to the real relief of being straight with one another.
It’s a lot easier sometimes to pretend that the mess doesn’t exist or resolve one issue and quit, even if other issues emerge. This stops us from delving into the root causes that will solve the problem(s) long-term. True satisfaction won’t come until you have finally cleaned out all the “drawers” of your relationship.
Don’t wait until frustration, a serious mistake, or a “blow-up” makes you take action in your unresolved conflicts. Being proactive and staying on top of any necessary clean-up will save you headaches in the future – and will hopefully salvage previously damaged or fragile relationships.
At ConvergenceCoaching, we teach a proven conflict management methodology to help people “clear out their drawers” and collaborate win-win solutions with the people in their life. If you are interested in learning this methodology, visit our Learning Management Center at www.convergencelearning.com and check out our online, self-study course called “Managing Difficult Conversations Successfully” or visit my colleague, Jennifer Wilson, at this year’s AICPA Practitioners Conference in Las Vegas where she’ll be teaching a session on conflict and straight talk. Watch for more information about our new e-book entitled “Straight Talk Your Way to Success” as well!
Please post a comment to share your feelings about the topic of conflict resolution and/or share a story about how you’ve cleaned up your relationships – personal or professional!