TREAT CONFLICT AS A LEARNING OPPORTUNITY E ach November, the Long Island Business Forum (LIBF) hosts its annual Thank You Reception. As I’ve shared in prior newsletters, one of my proudest accomplishments is starting the LIBF and being blessed to have so many amazing women business leaders be part of its gatherings. This past November, 50 of us gathered at the Westbury Manor for an evening of good food, great conversation, and an incredible talk from our guest speaker, Liz Kislik.
Stephanie Larkin, Elizabeth Vaz and Liz Kislik
satisfy the client regarding your product or service. Without the conflict, you might have never known that the client was discontent. Having conflict is the alternative to them simply leaving, going to your competitor, and never telling you why. Thus, the first lesson of conflict resolution is to not shy away from it because it is able to teach us something important. Another lesson in conflict resolution is learning how to be kind to others. Here, Liz suggests that, when we lock horns with another person and only see hostility, we try to recognize our chance to be kind. The way she suggests to do so is to think of that person as his or her 9-year-old self — a child with hopes and dreams — not the adult who is now creating an issue. Ask yourself, What did that 9-year-old want? How can I meet that former dreamer and make amends? Then, approach your antagonist differently. We all know situations in which someone solved a problem because of how they handled it, not what they did to handle it. As a parent, many of us are adept at doing this. I can yell at my children to get them to do what I want, or I can make it a game and let them compete against each other to do it the fastest. Another point Liz made that really resonated with me is that conflict teaches us our worth. I started my business because I wanted to work with the clients I enjoyed working with. But what should you do when you have someone you don’t enjoy working with? One of Liz’s suggestions is to raise your rates. It’s certainly a lot more pleasant to be paid more to deal with a difficult client than to be paid the same as before. Sometimes, the additional compensation is just enough to tolerate the angst they bring. A higher rate also forces the person to stop and assess how much they value you. I know if I pay $500 an hour for someone’s services, I respect them and their time a lot more. If I spend a lot of money to hear what they have to say, I am more likely to seriously consider their advice. When I pay a lower amount for a consultation, I don’t value it as much. The psychology is clear and real. It could be, Liz suggests, that when we experience conflict with a client, it’s the result of them not valuing us enough. Overall, Liz’s talk was very well-received. Many people shared that she was the highlight of the evening. While having conflict is never my goal in business, I am very happy that Liz taught me some great ways to resolve it.
Here’s a bit of background on Liz: She has worked as a management consultant and executive coach for 30 years. She is also a frequent contributor to the “Harvard Business Review” and
“Conflict can be very instructive as it gives us an opportunity to be kind and can teach us our own value.”
“Entrepreneur,” has a TED Talk on conflict at work, and has served as an adjunct professor at Hofstra and NYU. Needless to say, Liz had a lot to bring to our gathering.
Liz shared the value of conflict with us. Now, I know many of us hate conflict and try to avoid it as much as possible,
but, as Liz shared, conflict can be very
instructive as it gives us an opportunity to be kind and can teach us our own value.
Obviously, when conflict arises between two parties, it shows the business owner that something is broken in the relationship. This is an opportunity to turn the situation around and
To reach Liz and learn more about her work, please visit her website at LizKislik.com .
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