Once pointed out, this theme is an obvious requirement for a successful relationship. I cannot think of any relationship which at some point has not had a few problems which included at least a bit of conflict. If you assume that to be called a relationship there must be at least two people involved, and that each individual will be seeking to influence the other person, there will inevitably be differences of opinion. If these are not handled well (with good Communication and Influence), a dispute is likely to appear.
So being able to deal quickly and openly with these disputes becomes a critical element of a successful relationship. I am wise to the argument that if you have a relationship with perfection on the first two themes, you shouldn’t need to use problem solving and conflict resolution. But even in perfect relationships (and I am sure some get close), it is always handy to have these capabilities available so you can deal with the worst-case scenario, should it occur.
Positive Indicators: Each party in the relationship is likely to…
- Proactively take the initiative and open talks with the other person.
- Follow a clear process to remedy any issues.
- Accept responsibility for any failings from their own side.
- Want both sides to make the right decision – together.
- Give adequate time for discussion and to resolve any issues.
- Acknowledge and respect the needs and rights of the other person.
- Look for win-win solutions.
- Seek to build constructive ways forward.
Negative indicators include people…
- Not facing up to difficult issues.
- Not returning calls/emails from the other party.
- Taking criticism too personally and getting defensive.
- Having a “tit for tat” attitude.
- Behaving in a belligerent, stubborn or childish manner.
- Avoiding responsibility for their own contribution to the problem.
- Hoping the problem will resolve itself.
Spend a few moments thinking about a significant relationship, perhaps with a business partner or another team.
- What evidence is there for the positive and the negative?
- What is the balance like between the indicators overall?
- Are there any differences between the two teams?
- What happens when a problem occurs or conflict arises?
- What processes are in place? Are they followed?
- What can you do to improve the way both teams handle these difficult moments?