There Are Always Two Sides

“No matter how thin you slice it, there are always two sides.”

It’s wisdom I believe but sometimes fail to observe.

From time to time, I get the opportunity to help resolve an issue among conflicting parties. Most of the time, this starts with someone sharing a grievance. Because I’m the boss, most folks are reluctant to bring me a grievance. So, when they do, there is usually some urgency, some emotion associated with it.

I’ve learned that the key to being effective at resolving these issues is to resist deciding about the issue before everything is known. In other words, I need to hear both sides.

Here’s another insight: when there’s a sharp difference between parties several dynamics kick in.

Each side has decided the other is wrong.

Each side has dropped back to defend their position.

Each side has stopped listening.

Each side has made “being right” or winning the most important outcome.

My advice? When you feel that emotion kick in, consider the following.

  1. You may well be missing something.
  2. Don’t drop back. Stay at the table and keep working the problem.
  3. Listen harder. Seek to understand.
  4. Resist matching emotion with emotion. One cooler head can help draw down the temperature on the hotter head.
  5. Make the problem the task. Remember we are on the same team. Facts can help.
  6. Stay humble. Be willing to admit misjudgments, misunderstandings and misperceptions.
  7. Be gracious. Forgive your counterpart’s misjudgments, misunderstandings and misperceptions.