Conflict Q & A | The Zebra Blog

Conflict Q & A

teach and student with question

I have shared my Conflict Resolution formula over the last few weeks, and have been asked a few questions that several of you might be wondering about as well. Enjoy!

I have a situation that I should have addressed a long time ago, but because I avoided conflict, the situation has gotten worse and I don’t know how to broach the subject. What do I do?

It is never too late to resolve conflict! However, to avoid blind-siding someone with a problem that you might have lived with for weeks, months, or even years, it is important to introduce the topic in a way that honors your relationship. For example, you could start with, “Gina, I need a few minutes to discuss with you about a topic that might be uncomfortable to talk about. I’m not sure you even realize it is a concern of mine, but I have to get it off my chest. Do you have a few minutes to talk about it?”

That approach is non-confrontational, friendly, and sets the stage for a calm, serious discussion.

I am a younger agent (early 30s) and I have a situation with an agent who is in her 60s. I was always taught to respect my elders and am having a very difficult time even thinking of how I might approach this discussion let alone tell her how I feel. Where do I go from here?

What a great question! I believe that no matter what the age difference, there is always room for a respectful conversation if something is bothering you. You can use the same introduction as in the above example. But be sure to come to the meeting with solutions that will work for the generational divide.

I am having a situation where the other individual seems to have no regard for my side and I feel like I am beating my head against the wall. How do I proceed?

There are always two sides to every conflict. Always. However, there are several reasons why the other person may not be seeing your side. Make sure you have followed the conflict resolution formula and make sure you have:

  • Stated the facts
  • Engaged and asked their opinion
  • Stated your truth and offered solutions

Once you have done a mental check and made sure you followed this formula, take a closer look and determine where they “checked out” of the resolution. Was it when you were stating your facts? If so, you may want to approach conflict resolution again armed with not so many facts. If you state too many facts at once it can cause the other party to put up their defenses, which is never conducive to conflict resolution. If you are coming to the meeting with a list of a dozen wrongs cited, shorten that list to one or two.

Did you lose them when you tried to engage with them and ask questions? If so, consider the style of questions you are asking. If you only ask “yes” or “no” questions, then make sure to phrase them as open-ended questions. For example, instead of asking, “Does what I am saying make sense?” instead try, “What do you think about what I just said?”

Did they check out when you stated your truth? If so, consider softening it a bit and let your emotions come through. For example, if your truth is, “I really need this to change and have some ideas on how to do that.” Instead try, “I know this is uncomfortable for both of us and I am very sorry about that. However, this situation is not working for me and I really need your help in finding a different solution. Do you think we can work together to resolve this?”

Before you dismiss this situation as hopeless, take a look at the way you are handling it with a critical eye and determine if a shift in your tone is needed.

However, if you have already taken those necessary steps and the situation is not getting any better, you may be in the same situation as the person who asked the question below.

What do I do if I have already tried to resolve the situation, even to the point of compromising on several items? I still feel that they should really try to meet me part way, but obviously they don’t feel the same way. Should I continue to compromise hoping they will give a little?

Sometimes yes, sometimes no. If the person you are having conflict with will not take responsibility for their part of the conflict (and it sounds like you are trying to take responsibility for your part by compromising), then you may need to move on and either leave this unresolved or leave it to an outside party to find a solution.

I have seen people become completely wrapped up in unresolved conflict. And it then doesn’t just impact one area of their life. I have seen situations where conflict with a spouse, child, or parent completely zaps all the energy that person has for all other aspects of their life (including work). Alternatively, I have seen transactions rife with conflict that zap an agent’s energy not only to work, but to enjoy their time off. We only have so much energy to go around.

One day you may be faced with conflict that is never going to have closure because the other person feels they are 100% right and you are 100% wrong; they refuse to see your side, let alone come to any reasonable solutions. If that happens and you know you have done everything in your power to resolve it, then you may need to just let it go. And, as I like to say, “the facts and the truth will always find their way to the top”, meaning if you have tried your best, then take the high road and feel great about the ways you tried to compromise.

If you would like to spend a day practicing conflict resolution in action, I invite you to CAMP CONFLICT coming up on September 11, 2013 in the Seattle area. This day will be chock-full of business, personal, and family conflict resolution exercises. You are not required to participate or share in the exercises if you prefer not to. This is open to people outside the real estate community, so bring your friends and family members! The venue will be confirmed within a week.


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3 Responses to “Conflict Q & A”

  1. Esther Druxman says:

    The information on Conflict Resolution is a “MUST” for every real estate agent, broker, manager, office manager, and janitor. Also, Mothers, fathers and children.

    The way Denise presents her matter of fact, reasonable approach is without drama or “perspiration” for all parties involved.

    Thank you for any and all article’s with reference to this topic.

    • Denise Lones says:

      Esther- Thank you for your support! If it makes a difference for just a few people it was worth the effort, but based on the feedback I’ve received here and elsewhere, I think that more than just a few have found something to take-away from this series. It was great to see you at Safari earlier this month. -Denise

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