While having breakfast with a friend a few weeks ago, she shared a cute story about her 2 year old daughter Aria, and her husband Josh. I love this little girl because though she is only 2, she is strong willed, independent and speaks her mind. As we were chatting, my friend said, “Aria refuses to wear any clothing besides dresses.” I instantly started laughing and said, “That sounds like a lot of laundry for you and Josh.” She said, “You laugh but I am not joking. She likes wearing them because she likes to show them off to her friends at preschool. Every morning when she arrives at school, she announces her arrival saying “Hi-ey!” in a high pitched voice. She then fluffs the bottom of her dress and says, “Pretty dress” and all the kids swarm around her to admire her outfit.” By this time, I was hysterically laughing at her story. She said, “It was cute until the other day when Josh, put her in a pair of jeans. I could hear them fighting in her room and finally they both stormed out upset.” Josh said, “I am not changing her!” My friend said, “I was thinking to myself about how strong willed and stubborn my daughter is but also my husband. How was I going to create a win-win out of this? Then it occurred to me that the reason she wanted to wear a dress was so she could show it off to friends. I got down on the floor at her level to help calm her down. I then said, ‘Today, rather than say “pretty dress”, you can say, “Look at my jeans”, with a sassy attitude!” Still laughing, I asked, “Did that work?” My friend said, “Surprisingly, it did! She walked into school and said exactly what I told her, “Hi-ey! Look at my jeans!”. All the kids admired her flowered jeans, and then ran off to play.”
This story reminds me a lot about resolving conflict in everyday life. In business, conflict is inevitable, however we often think of conflict as a bad thing. As a result, we try and avoid it, or make quick decisions that lead to a win-lose solution rather than a win-win, in attempt to silence the problem. In this scenario, my friend was able to find a win-win by trying to see both the perspective of her husband and the perspective of her 2 year old daughter. Her husband didn’t want to change the outfit of his demanding 2 year old, and Aria wanted to show off her outfit to her classmates. In her mind, the only way to do that was by wearing a dress that she could fluff out. When her mom suggested an alternative way to show off her outfit she created a win-win for both parties and everyone walked away happy.
I encourage you this week to find win-win opportunities in your life. These could be at home or in the work environment. As you approach a solution, look for opportunities to see all parties perspective and try and find a win-win vs. win-lose. By asking questions, try and determine what the root is behind each person's argument, it may not be the problem that initially surfaces. For example, Aria’s root problem wasn’t that she couldn’t wear a dress but that she couldn’t show off her outfit like she wanted. By determining the root problem, both dad and Aria were able to come to a solution that worked for both of them.
If finding win-win solutions are hard for you or members of your organization, I want to chat with you. Helping a team look through the eyes of others, is the first step in resolving the occurrence of team confrontation.
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