Conflict Resolution: Know Your Hot Buttons & Be Aware of Other’s!

I’m still visiting my folks in VA and my Dad is failing. As I ponder his life, I recall what a great attorney he was, and how he could chew right through conflict. Case in point: he started his legal career defending Japanese war criminals after WWII.

I had the good fortune to read Hot Buttons: How to Resolve Conflict and Cool Everyone Down by Sybil Evans and Sherry Suib Cohen.

The mind and the body are twins. Poet Algernon Swinburne

What happens in your mind and spirit gets to your stomach and your heart.

A Hot Button is an emotional trigger and when someone pushes one of your hot buttons, you know it since it make you a little crazy. Self awareness of what makes you crazy and an awareness of others’ hot buttons—is very useful in business. It is important to know your conflict style. Before you can diffuse your hot buttons you must be clear about what inflames them. This sounds a lot like emotional intelligence to me!

The book describes 5 conflict styles:

Avoider – Make “it go away” is the goal when conflict intrudes your life

Slash-and-Burn – Tough guy who is “in-your-face”

Peace at all Costs – Harmony is the goal here

Problem Solver – No problem is insurmountable if you work at it

Exploder – Into high drama, emotional and demonstrative

This bleeds right into cooperative intelligence’s leadership, connection and communication.

Leadership – Good leaders are self-aware and observant enough to notice what triggers other’s hot buttons.

Connection – This sensitivity helps develop trusting and lasting relationships.

Communication – Hot button awareness helps us be better observers, listeners and communicators.

So how do you resolve conflicts which stem from Hot Buttons? The book outlines 5 steps:

1. Watch the Play – as though you’re the audience, not a participant. “Watch & play” creates a mental attitude of detachment and objectivity.

2. Confirm – the validity of the other person’s anger. You let them know you’re ready to listen.

3. Get more Info – by asking open-ended Questions.

4. Assert your own interests and needs. Note: this is step 4 after you have calmed down and listened to the other guy’s point of view. Now he is likely to listen to you.

5. Find common ground – for a solution with a problem-solving approach.

There are several tippers from this book that I practice to avoid conflicts:

1. People’s beliefs are not always what you assume they are. When people make wrong assumptions, it can push hot buttons.

2. Empathy is a great hot button diffuser since it acknowledges the other person’s feelings, and takes your mind off your own feelings and allows you to creep into someone else’s. This is calming during a conflict.

3. Ask questions – Questions help you learn more information about the other guy’s feelings, and give you time to cool down, if you’re angry

4. Paraphrase – By restating I can make sure I heard exactly what my partner meant me to hear. Paraphrasing also lets the other guy know I am listening, a key ingredient to conflict resolution.

Here are two books I recommend which are in a similar vein:

Crucial Conversations by Kerry Patterson, Joseph Grenny, Ron McMillan, Al Switzler and Stephen R. Covey (my comments)

The Power of a Positive No: How to Say No and Still Get to Yes by Bill Ury

Sharpen Your Emotional Intelligence Skills

Emotional Intelligence is a important component of cooperative intelligence. Referred to as EI, often measured as an Emotional Intelligence Quotient (EQ), it is the ability to sense, understand, and effectively apply the power of emotions to facilitate high levels of collaboration and productivity. (Cooper & Sawaf 1998, Executive IQ, New York: Perigee)

According to Daniel Goleman, the father and author of Emotional Intelligence, there are 5 skills that enable EI:

1. Self awareness – knowing your moods, emotions and drives, as well as their effect on others

2. Self regulation – the ability to control or redirect disruptive impulses and moods and the propensity to suspend judgment and think before acting

3. Motivation – a passion to work for reasons that go beyond money or status and a propensity to pursue goals with energy and persistence

4. Empathy – understanding other people’s emotional makeup and the skill to treat people according to their emotional reactions

5. Social skill – an ability to find common ground and build rapport. Skill in managing relationships and building networks

In my field of competitive intelligence a high EQ is helpful since we’re often delivering people bad news like, “Competitor A is getting ready to launch a disruptive technology,” or “We need to get this product to market before Competitor A or does else we’ll lose X% market share.” We are being paid to “tell the truth” and we cause stress since often “they” don’t want to hear bad news or threats to the business even if it is the truth. We have to stay strong to deliver bad news, and also be sensitive as to how “they” are going to take the news and not spring surprises, for example. I found one way not to be regarded as Darth Vader is to present management with opportunities as well.

What’s neat about EI versus IQ is that we can learn and be coached to improve our EI skills, whereas we’re born with a certain IQ. In this vein, I am studying to be a certified mentor for a company called EQmentor founded by the genius of Izzy Justice.

What’s really neat about EQmentor is it’s all on-line and there is total anonymity between mentors and mentees. I think their timing is really right as about 70% of communication is electronic, an indication of its high acceptance. When I formed The Business Intelligence Source  in 1993, my phone rang all day. Now it’s email, Twitter Tweets, LinkedIn and Facebook communication that talk to me 24/7.

EQmentor provides an incredible repository of information that mentors and mentees have access to in addition to members of the EQmentor community. The company carefully matches mentors and mentees and the relationship is a 6 month engagement, long enough to make a change in a person’s life. I know the price is right compared to traditional coaching so it will be affordable to more people.

What do you think about this concept at EQmentor? How do you use emotional intelligence in your profession?

Win/Loss Analysis book gives you a process to learn why you’re losing business and how to keep more of it!

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Win Loss Analysis is more than Competitive Intelligence

Win loss analysis is my favorite tactical cooperative intelligence practice as it offers the best ROI of any sales intelligence tool. You gain intelligence by interviewing your customers shortly after the sales event to find out why they chose to do business with you or decided on a competitor. The data gathered combines knowledge from sales, customers, competitors, and your marketplace.

Consider these points to develop a cooperative B to B win loss process:

  • Clearly identify objectives for conducting win loss
  • Invest the time to develop the questions you want answered
  • Include Sales
  • Maintain professionalism throughout the process
  • Don’t just “survey” your customers
  • Don’t just interview losses; include wins
  • Communicate findings broadly within your company

I’ve conducted win/loss interviews and analysis for years, and enjoyed reading Ford Harding’s post, “Learning from Loss,” where he shared findings from Ken Sawka of Outward Insights about what can be obtained from conducting win loss interviews.

What I found most interesting was Ford’s experience in professional services firms where partners do the work and make or lose the sale so there isn’t a dedicated sales force.  Ford’s focus isn’t competitive intelligence so his perspective is valuable to those of us with our heads in the competitive intelligence sandbox.  He is the author of Rain Making: Attract New Clients No Matter What Your Field.  A rain maker is an employee who creates a significant amount of new business to a company. Rain Making uncovers how professional services are marketed successfully in terrific detail.  I decided to buy the book to gain the perspective of selling in professional services as I sold in the retail and telecommunications arenas. BTW Rain Making gets very good reviews on Amazon.

As a competitive intelligence professional, you will be more successful in capturing competitive data from sales if you build your emotional intelligence by gaining an understanding and empathy for the challenges and joys of their job. You will most certainly acquire this from Rain Making.  You might even give your company’s sales and PR folks some tippers from this book.

For more reading on win loss analysis consider this article, “Increasing Sales through Win Loss Analysis.”

Do you conduct win loss interviews at your company?  If so, how have you used the findings to improve your business?

Be notified when our book, Win/Loss Analysis: How to Clinch and Keep the Business You Want is published.

Why Cooperative Intelligence?

Ellen Naylor

Ellen Naylor

In my 25+ years working in and for corporations in marketing and competitive analysis, I have observed that the focus is too often on process and monitoring the competitive landscape using secondary research and the Internet, and increasingly neglects the relationships we must forge with individuals. From speaking to people in other professions, I have learned that this focus on process is widespread, particularly due to the high usage of electronic communication that has replaced the telephone and face-to-face meetings.

We have plenty of support to become good at our skill such as law, finance, accounting, art, marketing, or my area–competitive intelligence. However, many of us have trouble listening, being heard and taken seriously by the right people in our companies. I have learned that an attitude of cooperation is one of the best ways to encourage people to share, regardless of what you do or what industry you work in.

Cooperative intelligence puts people in the center whether through social networking, in-person meetings, teleconferences or written communication. Its foundation is giving attitudes and practices which encourage openness, sharing and trust. Trust begins with communication, telling the truth, and doing what is good for people and the organization. When people trust you, they often will do what you ask them to do since they want to.

Cooperative intelligence is a holistic solution which integrates generous leadership, connection and communication to make us stronger individuals regardless of our profession. It incorporates emotional intelligence and appreciative inquiry to make us more balanced individuals.

BTW, I am writing a book on cooperative intelligence. If you have some ideas, I would love to hear from you.

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