The opposite of “conflict” is not “surrender.”

A new client of mine has always been the peacemaker.  She’s been the one at home and on the job who made things happen by avoiding all conflict.  Now she owns the family business and she still avoids conflict.  When the contractors don’t turn in their reports on schedule, my client will still do whatever is needed to make sure they get paid on time on time.  When an employee doesn’t get important tasks done on time, she’ll simply say to do it now and then will put in extra effort to make sure everything is done and monitored going forward.

Conflicts have been avoided but at what cost?  My client is exhausted.  She knows she should be spending more time developing new business but all of the extra work and interruptions has made it impossible for her.  Avoiding conflict may have helped her avoid small periods where period are unhappy but now she is unhappy pretty much all the time.  It is costing her sanity and business.

Our first task was to show her the cost of conflict avoidance.  Next, we developed a series of processes and rules that made some of the conflicts unnecessary.  Finally, we practiced ways to address a situation where instead of having a conflict with the other person, you recruit them to be part of the solution.  It has only been a few weeks but the small changes are adding up.  At our last session, she told me that she was able to bid on a half-million dollar job that she would have had to pass on without our improvements.  This is only after two sessions.  I can’t wait to see what she is going to be able to accomplish after a couple of months.

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