Over the past few weeks, I started asking some of my friends and mentors what they thought about my blog. I got a very interesting set of responses, and I am paraphrasing some of them here…

“Don’t bust a blood vessel trying to be funny.”

“Too damn long! No one has the time to read a blog longer than a page. Condense your writing or use a smaller font!”

“What is the single take-away for each blog? If everything is important, nothing is important.”

“Why should I read your blog? What’s in it for me?”

Many of the comments reminded me of a heading in a beautiful book I just finished reading – Presentation Zen, by Garr Reynolds….

“Dakara Nani? (So What?)”

So I had some questions, went on a journey, found some answers, tried them out and they worked. Dakara Nani? So what? Why should anyone care?

In the context of the preceding blog and this one, here’s a snippet from a fascinating report by CPP –Workplace Conflict and How Businesses Can Harness it to Thrive’

“In our culture, we reflexively tend to think of the term “conflict” in the negative. When we discuss conflict in the business world, we speak of it (often unwittingly) as a diminishing force on productivity, an ill that only compounds the difficulties of a job, and an element that needs expunging if companies are to achieve their goals. Normally seen as the byproduct of a “squeaky wheel” rather than a natural derivative of business itself, conflict is a force that causes short-term anxieties, and many view “fixing” ongoing conflict as synonymous with “eliminating” it.

  • 85% of employees at all levels experience conflict to some degree
  • U.S. employees spend 2.8 hours per week dealing with conflict, equating to approximately $359 billion in paid hours in 2008.
  • The question for management, therefore, is not whether it can be avoided or mitigated; the real concern is how conflict is dealt with.
  • If managed improperly, businesses’ productivity, operational effectiveness, and morale take a major hit…
    • 27% of employees have witnessed conflict morph into a personal attack
    • 25% say that the avoidance of conflict resulted in sickness or absence from work.”

-Jeff Hayes, CEO of CPP

Think about the last three conflicts you were involved in.

  • Did you use a step by step approach to steer these conflicts in the desired direction? How did that work out?
  • How did these conflicts impact you as a person? How did they impact the organization?
  • How much time did you spend on managing these conflicts as an individual and as a team?
  • What was the cost of conflict in dollars? What was the ROI?
  • Was the ROI of conflict acceptable? How would you increase it?

Most of us have at least one ongoing conflict at any given time. When faced with conflict, we often select from one of two options – Fight or Flight. Sometimes these options work, but many times they don’t. And when they don’t, the cost of conflict is high and the ROI is low.

Dakara Nani?’ you may ask, ‘So what? ’ Well, this is the story of how I increased the ROI of conflict in my life. I hope it helps you do the same…

The Texas Three Step

In my last blog, I introduced the five styles of conflict resolution in the TKI model. After I learned about these five styles, I did a quick self assessment to figure out where I probably stood. Due to my exceptional self-awareness and incredibly high intellect, this did not take long. I quickly realized that I had already evolved a very sophisticated, pragmatic, situation-based, multi-pronged approach to resolving conflicts. This approach comprised of a unique three step process, which I had designed independently and should have patented.

I called it the Texas Three Step. Here’s how it worked…

  • Primary Style: Compete!
  • Secondary Style: Compete Harder!!
  • Tertiary Style: Compete Hardest – Be sure to leave scar tissue!!!

Not that this approach was working for me. I was paying a really high cost for conflicts with negligible benefits. The ROI was pathetic! But I did not know what adjustments I should make to increase my ROI. So I took the TKI assessment, curious to see if it turned on any light bulbs. I was shocked when I saw my results…

Ravi's TKI Results

My initial reaction was pure disbelief. This was very different from how I perceived myself, and definitely different from my image among those who had been in conflicts with me. I started looking at the evolution of some of my most painful conflicts to see if there might be any truth in my report.

It was a confusing time until I attended an amazing workshop on ‘Advanced Conflict Resolution’ by Ralph Kilmann, co-author of the TKI. Ralph helped me make sense of my conflict resolution approach by combining the TKI with my MBTI results…

Ravi's MBTI Step 1 Results...

Suddenly, it hit me like a ton of bricks! I started observing a distinct three step pattern in most of my challenging conflicts. I realized that the actualTexas Three Step’ was very different from what I thought it was…

  • Step 1: Being a Caregiver on the PMAI and an F (Feeler) on the MBTI, I would start by wanting to make everyone happy. So I would Accommodate in the early stages of most relationships and conflicts.

However, being an I (Introvert) on the MBTI meant that I would rarely tell people that I was accommodating them. I used to assume that they would notice, keep score and reciprocate by accommodating me when I really needed them to.

  • Step 2: Over time, however, I noticed that some people did not reciprocate. And they did not accommodate me out of a sense of fairness and reciprocity (is that even a word). This made me angry and resentful. I knew that I should speak to them about it, but something made me uncomfortable about the idea. Probably a long history of similar conversations that had not gone down too well. So I began Avoiding the person or issue at hand, in the hope that it would resolve itself.
  • Step 3: Finally, when the situation became unbearable, I would erupt and resort to ‘Competing’ by switching into the Shadow Form of the Warrior archetype as described on the PMAI. In plain English, this meant that I would become very aggressive.

What is interesting about the actualTexas Three Step’ is that I only had visibility into Step 3. I was not happy with my conflict resolution approach – but I was at a loss about what to do different. I had no insight about the previous two steps in my conflict resolution approach and could not make adjustments in the early stages of conflict.

Assessments like the TKI, MBTI and PMAI helped me understand myself and gain the option of altering my response before conflicts got out of hand. I made three simple adjustments with dramatic results-

  • Adjustment 1: When Accommodating someone, step out of the Intravert’s comfort zone and communicate with the other person. Sometimes, people could not care less about what I am giving up. It is just not important to them, I just assume it is and end up making both people unhappy. At other times, people need to know that I am accommodating them. It helps solidify the relationship and they understand me better.
  • Adjustment 2: Don’t Avoid conflicts by getting stuck in a sucker’s choice – ‘Damned if I bring up the issue, Damned if I don’t’. Try to surface everyone’s concerns in a respectful way. Create a safe atmosphere to brainstorm and Collaborate to see if a new way can be found to address all key concerns.
  • Adjustment 3: Maximize the benefits of Competing by being firm and assertive without being aggressive.

In isolation, these adjustments seem trivial. No big deal. But when applied in the context of my history with conflicts, they were dynamite! That is the beauty of self-awareness – the hardest part is turning on that light bulb to illuminate your blind spots. Once the light is on, the rest is easy. Relatively, any way.

Dakari Nani’, you may ask. ‘So what?’ This was the story of my ‘Texas Three Step’ and how it helped me increase the ROI of conflicts in my life. How will you apply it to increase the ROI of conflict in yours?

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