Recently my Wife Liz and I had one of those arguments that goes on for a few weeks, with both parties seeking any silence that the children offer to further reinforce their point. It’s a special form of mutual torture that is reserved for couples to exact on each other for no other reason than sheer exhaustion of trying to keep small humans alive when they seem intent on the opposite. I won’t go into the details of marital strife, but it struck me as a useful lesson to share … because both of us were right.
The core of the conversation was surrounding our eldest child Olivia and what we wanted for her future. I believed that option A was the better approach, Liz thought option B. Its like choosing a holiday between Sun and Ski … neither option is wrong and both have their merits, but you can’t do both (in most places at least!)
Most conflicts come down to opposing views, but what do you do when your views are complimentary but the action that needs to be taken is exclusive … you can only choose 1 option, but both are valid. How do you win an argument or resolve a conflict when both parties are right?
The route we took was twofold.
Re-establish common ground
We love each other, we love our daughter and the only reason for any argument was that we both cared deeply about the outcome. As we moved through the conversation we both remembered these three points and it helped us steer ourselves back to the conversation vs the conflict. In my experience working with Founders, CEOs and Royalty there is almost always common ground behind conflict … otherwise 1 of the 2 parties simply wouldn’t care enough to carry on arguing!
Sought out option C.
When I met my Liz this was one of the most important lessons she taught me … and has reminded me whenever I forget it! There is ALWAYS another approach … more often than not there is multiple approaches that never even get conceived, let alone considered. If you’re gunning for option A and the other party wants option B, you need to drop your ego and find option C.
In business, far too often people negotiate the price of a contract before they look at the payment terms, the deliverable schedule, deferred payments, access to customers, referrals, testimonials etc … there are literally a dozen levers you can pull before you agree to a discount. Good negotiation is finding what has value to them that doesn’t have cost to you and vice versa. Creativity is key to this process!
“Remember there is always an option C … if you can’t find it, you’re simply not looking hard enough.”