It's been said that nearly all conflicts could be avoided if communication between the two parties have been more effective.
But before communication can be effective, both parties must share some common interests or beliefs. At a minimum, there would need to be enough respect for both parties to be open to communicate.
If that minimum standard is in place, the opportunities for a leader is to check and make sure both parties are on the same page.
Being on the same page does not mean agreeing to every character on that page. It means being, in general, in close proximity to one another. It means looking at the situation similarly enough to be able to communicate.
Often times, we aren't on the same page, and we fail to recognize the discrepancy.
We don't recognize that we're on a different page when we make assumptions. We proceed as if everyone's on the page that we are on without even checking our assumption.
Failing to understand when we're not on the same page can also happen if a leader is out of touch. Leaders shouldn't live in ivory towers. If you are "lonely at the top," it's likely that you are not on the same page with others. Remember, close proximity is required to be on the same page.
Leaders who lack humility can also find themselves alone on isolated pages. If you have an expectation that everybody should could or automatically would get on the same pages you are on, you are mistaken.
Leadership humility combined with taking a little extra time and care to check what page others are on will help minimize misunderstandings, improve communication, and significantly reduce the risk of conflict.
If you are on a different page and need others to come to your page, go back to the page they are on to start. Then weave the story that turns the page from where they are to where you would like them to be with you.
Don't assume, don't race ahead, and don't mandate that others bridge the gap between the page they are on and the page you are on. As a leader, just lead to your page and stay in sync by checking in frequently.
This blog post is part of the May focus on connecting despite conflict in the CONNECT! Community. Deb will share 31 personal stories to illustrate 31 aspects of how leaders can avoid and handle conflict. As a leader, managing conflict will help you to be more effective and CONNECT2Lead. Be sure to subscribe to the CONNECT2Lead Blog for weekly tips and techniques on leading with a people first approach.