“Partners or opponents, it’s determined by how you communicate your frustrations and disagreements.”

Great leaders find a way for everyone to win as long as everyone stays in the game with a sincere desire to create a win for everyone, not settle for a compromise, or take their “marbles” and go home.

Compromise is a tool for managers and politicians, but a very weak leadership style. When you use the win-win approach to conflict, you change the culture of adversity and defense to one of a cooperative spirit and a collaborative effort.

One person consistently applying a joint problem-solving approach can make a significant difference to any conflict. If you are a core leader, you must be that person.

You must convince yourself that redirecting the course and tone of the conflict is worth the effort, if not, do not expect it from the team.

Until you pay attention, you are usually unaware of the way you argue your own ideas. You often find yourself with a knee-jerk reaction in difficult situations, based on your long established habits combined with the mood of the moment.

When challenged, only the mature do not separate and disconnect from those causing them pain and difficulty. Too many times it becomes a “you against me” and a sense that I must win at any cost.

Often it is no longer, what is best for everyone but my way is the only solution. The most important decision at this point is changing the conversation from looking at solutions back to what are the underlying needs of all parties.

Addressing each person’s needs rather than a single solution, means building a solution that acknowledges and values those needs, not denying others’ and justifying your own.

Great leaders ask questions like, “Why does that seem like the best solution to you?” “What’s your real need here?” “What are the team’s best interests in this situation?” “What values are important to you here?” “What’s the outcome you want to see?”

The answers to these questions significantly alter the conversation and determine at the end of the day if you have a partner or an opponent!