Monday, August 11, 2008

The Sound of Gunfire

Someone once said, “There are two types of people: Those who, when they hear the sound of gunfire, run in the opposite direction; and those who run toward the gunfire.”

Dealing with confrontation in the workplace and in life is very similar to the reaction to gunfire.

Some people immediately duck away and avoid the conflict. They are like turtles pulling their heads in when confronting an aggressor or an obstacle. The problem they run into is that sooner or later they end up as doormats. People in their lives understand that if situations get a little confrontational the Turtle will fold.

Another group seems to seek out confrontation. Not only do they welcome it, they will often initiate it. In some circles this confrontation style is known as "The Shark." The problem with being a Shark is that sooner or later they run into a bigger and meaner shark.

Another group is the Compromiser. They look for ways to say, "I'll give up a little, if you'll give up a little, and we'll meet on the commons." Compromisers are good to have in the workplace. They are often able of calming an escalating situation and sometimes can rescue a deal or relationship that appeared to be lost.

The best group is the Win/Win group. When faced with confrontation they step back and ask, "Is there any way we can both get what we want?" If so, great. If not, then they have the option of using the other styles.

One of America’s treasures, the writer James Baldwin, said, “Confrontation does not solve a problem but you must confront a problem before you can solve it.”

Knowing your confrontation style can help you make better decisions. If you are a Turtle you can train yourself to step up. If you are a Shark you can calm down. Compromisers can use their skills to help move through obstacles. However, it's the Win/Win folks we follow over the long haul.

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