It's Showdown Time!

Find yourself ramming heads with another? Starting to simmer? Ready to set someone straight? It's showdown time!

I had a showdown once (ha!). Immediately afterward, I felt charged. I felt cleansed. I felt powerful.  I was feeling so good, I began to feel guilty. Why was I feeling so good? Oh no, did I cross a line to the other side?  Hmmm. The mind (well, my mind) is a funny thing.  I sought feedback on the interaction. Was I professional? Yes. Was I respectful? Yes. Ok, why did it feel so good? It felt good because I said what needed to be said, when it needed to be said.

When was your last showdown? Think about it. Were you pumped? Were you primed? Were you ready for the opportunity when it presented itself?  Were you like a bull in a china shop, breaking relationships as you move through the organization, or were you moving through with care?

Instead of looking for a confrontation, prepare for a carefrontation. A carefrontation is a fresh approach to conflict resolution developed by corporate coach Esther Jules and featured in the May 2008 issue of Oprah magazine. The three core steps to a carefrontation are:

  • Prepare with care. Define the problem, separating the practical issues from the emotions they invoke.
  • Offer an invitation to talk. There is no sure-fire opener but when offered the opportunity, "people are grateful, because they're floundering."
  • Practice no-blame talking and listening. Be careful not to blame or accuse. My two cents? This is a not good time to "should" on the other person.

My showdown was awesome, long overdue and very, very cool (for me). Unfortunately, I changed the course of a relationship. I needed to have my voice heard and I could have done it better. I could have handled it with care.  Fortunately, I learn from my mistakes. 

If you find yourself in the midst of a showdown, stop and ask yourself one question: am I trying to win an argument or solve a problem? Then, let go of the argument and put your heads together to reach a common goal.