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4 Strategies to Improve How You Deal With Conflict

It’s not the disagreement that’s the issue, it’s how you approach expressing your views.

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Facing conflict can be about as fun as playing in traffic – and equally as stressful. Going against the conversational grain on a topic that you’re not even passionate about can put more gray hairs on your head than you’d care to see, which is why understanding conflict is so important. After all, the more you understand a challenge, the more equipped you are to overcome it.

People deal with conflict in different ways: Yelling obscenities, assuming a defensive position or losing control of bodily fluids. None of these expressions is ideal – especially if you’re over the age of ten – as they only promote further conflict.

Related: How To Deal With Workplace Conflict

A study conducted by Kristin Behfar of the University of Darden reveals that, contrary to public opinion, it’s not the topic of conflict that’s the problem. Rather, it’s how we fight that actually perpetuates a confrontation. Think about it.

When was the last time you got mad at someone who spoke to you in a very soft, gentle tone? Or, look at it this way: Did anybody ever get mad at Mr. Rogers? Nope.

Here are four ways to improve how you deal with conflict before your next unwanted verbal exchange:

1. Be direct, but not intense

The next time you’re in a discussion that’s about to go sour, look for two things (here’s a visual). First, listen to the language being used. Are people being overly direct or too passive? Too much directness and it’s seen as rude, not enough and it’s passive-aggressive.

Communication is important but being too expressive can be interpreted as threatening, and the last thing you want to explain to your boss is how you had to choke out your colleague because she didn’t agree with you (and if it was a she then you’re going to have a lot of explaining to do).

Second, gauge the level of intensity inherent in the discussion. Are people being outright rude, overly facetious or dismissive? If the answer is yes, then it’s too intense.

Behfar advocates being “direct, but not too intense. And when you validate your venting colleague’s feelings of hurt and anger, know that you may be doing a disservice.”

2. Know the culture

Just as language connotes different meanings in different contexts, so too does behavior. Many Asian cultures, for example, consider direct confrontation as impolite. The same goes for how conflict is perceived between a man and a woman. A man being “too” direct with a woman could be seen as a bully, whereas a woman may be seen as a bulldog.

Related: Healthy Conflict is Good for Business

The bottom line: Know your surroundings and the personalities involved.

3. Be consistent

Nothing sheds reliability faster than inconsistency. Trust is built when words and actions mirror each other – consistently. Integrity is established by doing the “right thing” in the absence of accountability – consistently. No matter what you do, or don’t do, consistency is key, and it’s paramount to building reliable behaviours.

4. Ask questions

Nobody likes hearing the same voice all the time (this is when consistency isn’t cool). More so, if that voice is always in telling rather than listening mode then listening to it (again) can quickly act as a social repellent.

By asking powerful questions, though, you extend your influence into two realms.

First, you assume a position of humility by placing yourself on the receiving end and playing to the other person’s ego. After all, the one topic that people enjoy talking about the most is themselves.

Second, rather than an attack-by-talking methodology, you can now counter attack by listening, thus invoking greater curiosity in the other person and offering yourself as a credible source of enlightenment. Socrates would be proud.

Lastly, remember that conflict can be healthy, even with obscenities. Facing conflict actually builds trust because the fear associated with conflict is often not knowing how the other person will respond. Just like anything, the more you do it, the better you become.

This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.

Strategy

What’s The Worst That Can Happen With A Disgruntled Silent Shareholder?

Whether a shareholder brings capital to the business, experience or connections, you need to ensure everyone has the same vision and values.

Kyle Torrington

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While we often hear that it can be bad to have a silent shareholder that does not want to play ball, it is not often that we make enquiries about how the governance of a company can be hindered by a disgruntled shareholder.

Most of us assume that as long as they own more than 50% of their own company, they are entirely in control of all aspects of the company and how it is governed. This is not true: Even if you are a majority shareholder, holding less than 75% of all the shares in your company can still result in headaches if a minority shareholder, holding at least 25% of the company, becomes disgruntled and neither participates in the decisions of the company, nor consents to the decisions being made.

What is set out below highlights, among others, why it is so important to give shares in a company to prospective shareholders over a period of time, rather than from the outset. This allows for shareholders to prove their worth without you potentially placing your company in a position where it could be held at ransom for many years.

Related: 7 Factors To Determine Who Are Your Employees (And Who Aren’t)

The illusion of holding more than 50% of the shareholding in a company

  • Many people assume that by holding more than 50% of the shares in a company they are free to do with the business as they please. This generally only holds true for basic decisions of the shareholders, such as the removal and appointment of directors. The most important decisions of a company are based on special resolutions. A special resolution requires that shareholders, either individually or collectively, holding at least 75% of all the shares in a company, vote in favour of a specific decision.
  • Examples of decisions that require a special resolution include:
    • Amending a company’s Memorandum of Incorporation
    • Approving the issuing of shares or granting of other similar rights
    • Authorising the basis for determining directors’ salaries
    • Disposing of company assets
    • Mergers and acquisitions.

So, what does this mean for you and your company?

  • If you are a start-up looking to raise funds, apart from some exceptions, you will not be able to issue further shares to new shareholders or anyone other than existing shareholders if there is a shareholder that is effectively dead weight.
  • Should you manage to vote a new director to the board, you will not be able to determine the basis on which they are compensated (their salary) without a special resolution.
  • If you intend to merge with another company, you will not be able to pursue this without a special resolution.
  • If you plan to raise money by disposing of or selling most of the assets of your company you will, once again, be prevented from doing so.

Related: Reality Check: You Probably Don’t Own That Work You Outsourced

Accordingly, it is always best when starting a venture to vest your shares over a period of time. This means that, for example, shareholders are only entitled to have their shares allocated to them after a certain period of time to avoid a situation where you have a dead-weight equity shareholder hindering the governing of your company, and requiring possible litigation to remove them.

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Strategy

There’s More To Team Management Than Leadership

When you’re running a business you need to ensure that your employees are on your side, helping you to make profits. Giving them job security, taking them seriously and treating them with respect, will go a long way in enhancing loyalty and productivity.

Henry Sebata

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The staff that work for you determine:

  1. How happy your customers are with your business
  2. The quality of the things that you sell
  3. The costs that you incur to sell your products and services
  4. Your risks – the things that can go wrong and how much it costs you

All of these things determine your profitability and how competitive your business becomes. How do you ensure that everyone is on the same side and helping you to make profits?

At work everyone believes that they are getting something (such as money) and are giving something in return (such as time and effort). They are weighing up in their mind “how much am I giving, how much am I getting in return and is this fair?” If they believe that they are:

  • Giving too much or
  • Getting too little
  • Then this is unfair, and they won’t work well (poor productivity – how much they produce).

Related: Why Innovative Employee Benefits Are Your Competitive Advantage

The manager needs to:

  • Know what people are thinking about what they are giving and getting and
  • Manage the giving or getting side
  • So that people become more productive

In a smaller business you sometimes cannot afford to pay more or provide the sort of benefits (pensions, medical aid, bursaries etc.) that larger firms can and so the staff may be unhappy, not be productive and be on the look-out for something better.

How do you increase happiness without money?

Everyone wants:

  1. Job security – knowing that you will still have a job next year – and that you will get paid on time.
  2. Contributing to the success of the business. If you train staff to have the knowledge and skills to do a better job and you then encourage and support them to do this then they are happier, and you increase profits. If you then share some of these profits with the staff that helped you to make them then everyone wins!
  3. To be taken seriously and treated with respect. If you do this then staff are happier, and they will also treat your customers with respect.
  4. To be part of the team. You can often do this by having a regular briefing on what your plans are and discussing ideas. Because staff are doing the actual work they will often have good ideas and then will be motivated to implement them – it was their idea after all!

Staff leaving you all the time is a can destroy significant value. If you implement the strategy above, you will have happier staff that are more productive and a more profitable business.

Read next: Understanding Your Responsibility As An Employer

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Strategy

Jeff Bezos Reveals 3 Strategies for Amazon’s Success

One of the richest men in the world shared his leadership tips for running a company.

Hayden Field

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“It remains Day 1.” That’s how Jeff Bezos, founder and CEO of Amazon, signed off in his 2018 letter to shareholders. He’s been propagating the “day 1” mantra for decades, and it’s meant as a reminder that Amazon should never stop acting like a start-up – even though the company now boasts more than 560,000 employees and more than 100 million members of Amazon Prime, the company’s paid service for free shipping on select items.

Here are some of the most useful nuggets of wisdom Bezos shared in his letter and during a recent onstage interview:

1. Standards are contagious

Bezos says he believes high standards are teachable rather than intrinsic. “Bring a new person onto a high standards team, and they’ll quickly adapt,” he writes. “The opposite is also true.”

If a company or team operates with low standards, a new employee will often – perhaps even unwittingly – adjust their work ethic accordingly.

He also says that high standards in one area don’t automatically translate to high standards in another – it’s important for people to discover their “blind spots.”

Related: Executive Director Hasnayn Ebrahim’s 5 Rules For Strategic Growth In Your Business

Try making a list of your duties, then ask trusted colleagues to tell you which responsibilities are your greatest strengths. If certain things from the list don’t come up during the conversation, it might be useful to think about how you can up your personal standards in those areas.

2. Set clear, realistic expectations

If you’re looking to raise your standards in a particular area, the first course of action is to outline what quality looks like in that area. The second is to set realistic expectations for yourself – or for your team – regarding how much work it will take to achieve that level of quality.

Exhibit A: You won’t find a single PowerPoint presentation at an Amazon company meeting. Instead, teams write six-page narrative memos to prepare everyone else for the meeting.

Bezos says the quality of the memos vary greatly because writers don’t always recognise the scope of the work required to reach high standards.

Related: Jeff Bezos: 9 Remarkable Choices That Shaped The Richest Man In The World

“They mistakenly believe a high-standards, six-page memo can be written in one or two days or even a few hours, when really it might take a week or more!” Bezos writes.

3. Stay involved with the people you’re serving

Whether you’re selling a product or service, it’s a good idea to make sure you never lose touch when it comes to the people you’re serving – no matter how high up the ladder you climb.

Related: Lichaba Creations Founder Max Lichaba’s Inspiring Journey To Entrepreneurial Success

Bezos says he still reads emails from his public inbox (jeff@amazon.com) as a way to keep his finger on the pulse of what’s happening with Amazon customers.

He says he believes focusing on what customers are saying is much more important for success than focusing on what competitors are doing, and he often compares customer feedback to company data to see where they misalign.

“When the anecdotes and the data disagree,” Bezos said at a recent leadership forum at the George W. Bush Presidential Center, “the anecdotes are usually right.”

This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.

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