Business Conflicts? How To Handle Them With Feminine Grace And Power

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Let’s be honest here, most women hate conflict and will do or say practically anything to avoid it.

But avoiding conflict can cause a domino effect that can be, at the least, emotionally draining for you and even worse, dangerous for your business.

For example, let’s say you have an assistant who’s late or inaccurate delivering projects to you. Or you have a client who’s not stepping up and doing what she needs to, to get the results you promised.

Or let’s say you have an event guest speaker do something un-cool from the stage, or even a coaching program client behave inappropriately in the group (trust me, I’ve had it happen!)

You see the problem, you know you need to step into your power and address it but … you hold back.

Why?

Here’s the deal: back in ancient history, a woman on her own had little chance of survival. So women developed the ability to blend in, keep everything even keel and to not rock the boat.

On a deep, core level women were afraid that if they spoke up they would be kicked out of their tribe and their very survival would be at stake.

Which is why even now, during a time of the greatest financial, emotional and physical freedom a woman has ever had, her actions during a conflict may not make logical sense, but often feel like the safest choice for her to make.

You can’t avoid conflict in business, no matter how “nice” you try to be. So rather than caving in like our ancient sisters did long ago, use my personal best tips to give you the strategies and the confidence you need to expertly handle any issue decisively and with feminine grace and ease.

Tip #1 Stop Gossiping And Start Speaking Up

The first thing most women do when they’re upset with someone is to tell all of their friends, yet avoid having a conversation with the offending party.

Business isn’t high school and gossiping around someone isn’t the behavior of a grown up, woman leader. So if you find yourself telling more than one person about someone else’s actions, then use that as a signal it’s time for YOU to take action.

Pick up the phone or send an email, saying you want to have a conversation about the situation.

Tip #2 Own Your Feelings

Before you start the conversation, take a minute to find your source of clarity and strength. What I do is ask myself, “How is this familiar?” to get to the bottom of why I’m triggered.

Conflict situations don’t “just happen” and once you identify what this reminds you of you’ll feel an easing of the emotional charge, allowing you to see the facts more clearly, rather than from a place of blame and victim.

Tip #3 Position Yourself As The Leader Of The Conversation

People appreciate clarity and directness, even if the message has a lot of emotion to it or if both sides don’t agree on what happened. The outline I follow is this:

Clearly state what I want to discuss
Clearly state what I want the outcome to be
Outline how I expect the conversation to flow
Get agreement before continuing

Would seeing a script help? Use this:

“I want to talk with you about what happened at ______________.
What I want to accomplish here is having us come to an understanding about how we can make this right, and how we’re going to go forward from here.
I’d like to start by hearing what you think happened, go through what I experienced, then come to an agreement as to what our next step is.
Does that work for you?”

Tip #4 Beware Of Their “Little Kid” Acting Up

Don’t be surprised if you suddenly hear blame, accusations or victim language. It’s not uncommon when someone is on the hot seat to revert to feeling and behaving like a little kid. It’s kind of spooky, I know, but it happens so be prepared if it does.

The best thing you can do is to not try and engage with them at that level. You’re best off if you keep breathing and simply mirror back what they’re saying to you, or you can acknowledge they are upset. I’ve often asked this question:

“What do you need me to say or do right now so that you feel heard?”

Tip #5 Seek Understanding First, Then To Be Understood

People want to be recognized, heard and understood. Taking a few minutes at the start of the conversation to hear their perspective is going to give you amazing insight into why they did what they did and what their take is on the situation. This is going to help you find a resolution that much faster.

Their behavior and reasons may not be what you agree with but if you can make sense of it from their perspective, you’ll stay grounded, clear and in your power.

My advice when you have any type of business conflict is to address it immediately!

The energy of it is within you anyway so by addressing the situation early you’ll prevent it from becoming a big, time wasting drama and instead, you’ll be strengthening your “courage muscles”!

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Comments

  1. Oh, this is an award-winning post, Kendall. Excellent, thank you!!!
    Meggin McIntosh, Ph.D.

  2. Kendall, thank you so much for putting this so clearly. It is true, I believe, that women get caught up in their emotions and have a difficult time communicating to come to a mutual conclusion especially when speaking with men.

    Timing is everything and no coincidence that this came to help me address a situation. So the script was really helpful.

  3. Thank you, Kendall! This is a fantastic solution to a very difficult problem. I really appreciate you addressing this and sharing your practical wisdom. I feel empowered just reading it.

    This sometimes happens with my sweet husband. Talking to him about inappropriate words of behavior will sometimes bring out his inner 2 year old, even when I am doing my best to be diplomatic, kind and gentle. I’ve noticed that the more I stand in my power instead of taking the blame for something that belongs to him, the more respect he has for me and the less often situations like this happen.

    This response in my best friend, combined with your wonderful coaching gives me greater courage in my client relationships. Thank you.

  4. Thanks Kendall – this was just the kick in the pants I needed to go and handle a late-paying client. It’s been a huge energy- draining niggle. Ok off I go to get it handled!

  5. Great post for both women and men, Kendall! Passive aggressiveness is both childish and unbecoming at any age or relationship status. I was always taught one should never burn a bridge as it’s strategically foolish and rarely truly necessary. When needed, I totally agree that mature and responsible communication requires both parties to attempt to understand one another with a proper “listening period” in order for both to save face cordially and feel understood, even (and especially) if they agree to part ways.

    Most offending parties, if engaged respectfully with clear communication, will try quite hard to rectify the issue— especially if our subsequent actions congruently enforce, rather than contradict, our request for better boundaries. Not communicating well, or at all, then waiting until it bubbles up out of nowhere (from the other person’s perception) is really being out of integrity to ourselves and others, and always becomes 10 times more melodramatic than necessary. I also appreciate your point that we must consider that part of what bugs us is due to our own interpretive framework, not just the person’s actions which trigger it , and may be due to negligence rather than maliciousness on their part.

    Along the lines of “how you do anything is how you do everything”…. People who gossip can scare away even their close friends who may imagine them turning on them too. By not strengthening and engaging our courage muscles, we weaken our credibility and integrity muscles, and may genuinely harm others and ourselves, both personally and professionally. Thanks for a very thoughtful post and an excellent template for difficult conversations, Kendall.

  6. Thank you Kendall! I’m going to put this script to use right away actually. Great tool to have.

  7. Brilliant Kendall! I am going to have the script you created handy. L,R

  8. Very well stated, Kendall. Thanks for this. No matter how long we’ve had a business, we continue to have situations that require this kind of language.

  9. Kendall, your advice is wonderful as always ;-) I especially appreciate you providing the exact script you use. Thank you so much!
    Blessings & Joy, Renee

  10. Cleopatra Bell says:

    This was great.

  11. Spectacular post, Kendall! Hit the nail on the head and I’m cutting and pasting the script right now! -Kellie

  12. Awesome article once again. It is so easy to settle for less just because you want to be nice and liked. This article was a reminder of standing in my power and tackling the issues as they arise, instead of looking the other way. *Annette*

  13. Again, a winner – and a timely article, too, Kendall. I’ve often heard it said ‘different level, different devil’ and as I continue to grow my business, this is so true. So helpful to get tips from you on how to handle some of these situations – I appreciate you and all that you share. Thank you – love the script, in particular – keeps it all professional and results-based.

    Thanks again. Hoping all goes well for you for the rest of the summer.

    Pat

  14. Kendall, (in the recording) are you saying women have behaviours that date back to the cavemen time?
    I would like to think we have evolve a little more than that!
    LOL

    I love Tip #1 “Stop Gossiping And Start Speaking Up: so empowering isn’t it?

  15. An elegant way to handle conflict.

    Being the leader of the conversation is a powerful message and the way to be.

    Women avoid conflict, for sure. And doing that is so draining. Thanks for this post!

  16. Great article and great advice.

  17. So glad to see you addressing this topic, Kendall. As the Rescuer of business partnerships when things have gotten so bad between them because of not following good advice as you talk about, sometimes it’s too late. Gratefully, not always!

    Love all of your brilliance.
    Dorene

  18. Really great post. The thing that helps me is to remind myself that I can’t read their mind so can’t make assumptions about why they did what they did. Usually, it’s a misunderstanding and when I give someone the benefit of the doubt we’re able to resolve it in a way that works for both of us.

    Love the script, especially “What do you need me to say or do right now so that you feel heard?”

  19. Business conflicts in general are hard to navigate but I’m in business with 3 other women who are friends and partners in a start us online lifestyle magazine. We work very closely together and it’s inevitable that conflict will arise. We learned early on that resentment builds QUICKLY if you aren’t proactive about it.

    Holding in feelings and frustrations aren’t productive for you, the team, or the company and in the end the company and our future is what matters most not hurt feelings. We’ve all agreed to put personal feelings on the back burner when it comes to business decisions. We acknowledge emotional attachments to projects and voice things constructively. It’s about respecting your co-workers and knowing them well enough to know how to approach them.

    Great tips and advice. I’ll definitely be referencing this for friends and colleagues in need of some help navigating these waters.

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