How Taking the Perspective of 100% Responsibility Resolves Conflict and Builds Teams

Conflicts and arguments in the workplace are very common — and very detrimental — to a business. Conflicts among coworkers can damage productivity, impact employee morale and hurt the work environment. Things can even get bad enough that employees quit. When that happens, it is a terrible reflection on the individuals involved in the conflict and on the business as a whole. How team members feel when they think of their workplace is critical to the success of the business.
Think of the last time you were in an argument. Chances are, it was easy to see how the other person was wrong. What’s usually not so easy to see is how we could have been wrong. Our ego and identity with our perspective make our fault in the conflict difficult to see. There’s an effective tool that, when used properly, can help us. It’s called “100 percent responsibility.”

When conflicts arise, we should take the time to view them as if we were 100 percent responsible for what happened. From that perspective, we analyze the situation, and ask ourselves what we did to cause it. To employ this tool, we assume the other person had no blame in the conflict. We ask ourselves what it is we did or said to trigger the other person. This is a very effective way of seeing the other person’s side of the story.
Robert and Karen were in charge of room assignments for a course being held at a retreat center. Because there were more people wanting rooms than there were rooms available, Robert decided to ask for staff volunteers to share a room during the retreat. He worked out a plan with everyone on the staff. When Karen became aware of what was going on, she went to Robert and explained that a number of the rooms he had assigned to staff were the most desirable rooms for course participants. They were also rooms large enough to accommodate an entire family instead of just two staff members.
From there, an argument ensued. Robert felt Karen was just being controlling, and her points about the rooms weren’t correct anyway. Karen got angry and thought Robert was being belligerent and difficult for no reason at all. From there, the relationship broke down, and the tension between the two had a negative effect on the whole staff. Both Robert and Karen felt they had very rational and strong arguments supporting their positions.
Isn’t that typical? When there’s a conflict, both parties almost always have very logical and rational reasons why they are right and the other person is wrong. It’s as if their life depends on winning the argument. In situations like this, both parties lose, no matter who “wins” the argument.
Eventually, Robert and Karen were able to take a step back and view the conflict using the 100 percent responsibility model. Robert realized that his knee-jerk reaction to Karen interfering with his plans triggered him emotionally. He felt undervalued and disrespected. Coming from that perspective, he was unable to honestly and openly consider what Karen had to say.
Karen realized that she spoke far too aggressively and harshly to Robert. Even if her points were right, the way she treated him created the inevitable conflict.
Once Robert and Karen, within themselves, came to terms with how they were each 100 percent responsibl” for the conflict, they were able to sit together, have a meeting of minds, and come up with a mature solution to the problem.
Truly successful business people tend to be artful in their dealings with others. Remarkably, even at the highest levels, businesses are terribly damaged by employees’ petty egos, identity with their perspectives, use of harsh and inappropriate speech and stubborn refusal to consider others’ viewpoints. Just the willingness to take a step back and view conflicts from the perspective of “100 percent responsibility” can transform a “difficult to work wit”‘ person into a supportive and inspirational member of the business environment. It is a simple key to becoming a person who readily climbs the corporate ladder and who is a true leader.

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