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Career Success Advice From The Sequester

Well here we are in the Sequester.

No matter what your political position on this, one thing with which most people agree is that our leaders haven’t done such a great job leading.  Positional bargaining is the culprit here.  To over simplify, one side says “tax the rich and the corporations.”  The other side says “no more taxes period.”

No wonder they can’t reach a compromise.  They have locked themselves into hard and fast positions and any movement away from these positions could have political consequences.

There is a way out though.  If both sides would focus on where they agree, not disagree, they might be able to make some progress.  Both sides want the USA to flourish.  I think they can agree on that.  They just have different approaches to creating a flourishing economy and society.

If they were to focus on where they agree…

If they agree that both want a healthy robust economy and society, they have a positive starting place, a place from which they can jointly build a solution that will work for the country.

Tweet 135 in my career advice book Success Tweets says, “Be a consensus builder.  Focus on where you agree, not disagree with others.  This makes it easier to resolve difference and create agreement.”  I know this is counter intuitive, but it works.

You can apply the lesson of Success Tweet 135 as you go about creating your life and career success.  You will find yourself in conflict on occasion in your career.  How you handle that conflict can have a big impact on your success or failure.  If you settle disputes and resolve difference quickly, don’t let them drag on, you’ll be seen as someone who uses conflict constructively – always a good label to have.

Successful, interpersonally competent people resolve conflict constructively.

They don’t paint themselves into a corner by taking positions from which they are not willing to move.  When they disagree with someone, they are not mean-spirited.  They don’t attack others.  They voice their disagreement with another’s ideas in a positive manner.  They use conflict to find better, more creative solutions to their differences with others.

I always encourage people who are in conflict to take that counter intuitive step – focus on where you agree, not where you disagree.  When you find yourself in conflict with another person, it is natural to focus on your differences.  However, this approach tends to lead to digging in your heels and looking for support for your position.  The more you do this, the less open you are to hearing what the other person has to say.  Conflict resolution becomes a zero sum, win/lose game.  And that’s how we ended up in the Sequester.

On the other hand, if you actively look for and find places where you agree, you can jointly create a solution that satisfies both of your needs.  Here is an example.

When we bought our house, we had a conflict with the seller over the closing date.  This was happening at the end of the year.  The seller, who was also the builder, wanted to close by December 31.  We were not planning on moving until February 1.  Due to some ambiguous language in the contract, the situation was becoming quite contentious.

Finally, I said to the builder, “John, you want to sell this house.  We want to buy it.  I’m sure we can work out a closing date that suits us both.”  At that point, the tone of our discussions changed.  We were working together to solve a problem – not arguing over December 31 and February 1 dates.  Even though we both ended up giving a little, neither of us felt that we had given up on our position.  We were able to resolve our conflict positively.

The common sense career success point here is simple.  Successful people are interpersonally competent.  Interpersonally competent people resolve conflict positively, with little damage to their relationships.  They follow the career advice in Tweet 135 in Success Tweets.  “Be a consensus builder.  Focus on where you agree with others.  It will be easier to resolve differences and create agreement.”  Conflict can be destructive to relationships and it can kill your career success, and as the Sequester shows, it can have negative effects on our whole society.

No one in Washington is asking for my help in resolve the current conflict.  But from a career perspective I know this to be true.  When you work to resolve conflict positively, you strengthen your relationships.  Strong relationships make it easier for you to resolve future conflicts and build your career success.  Focusing on points of agreement, however small, is the best way to resolve conflict positively.  Focusing on where you agree puts you in a position to jointly create a mutually satisfying solution to a conflict, as opposed to win/lose negotiation, in which one person wins and the other loses.

Read more posts by Bud Bilanich, Ed.D., The Common Sense Guy, a career success coach, leadership consultant, motivational speaker, bestselling author and influential blogger for JenningsWire.