Most times, business owners are advised to take courses on conflict management. That’s good but what if there is a way to minimize conflict from occurring?
Conflict is a result of disagreement that is out of control.
As a design thinker, I have learnt the value of tackling a problem from the root cause. In this article, I ‘ll focus on one root cause of conflict in business, which is known as an argument and I’ll show you godly ways to handle argument in business.
Poor handling of argument leads to a disagreement which results in conflict. But when there is an argument structure in place there will be less conflict to manage.
Let’s see the definition of these 3 terms, so you’ll understand clearly their differences
- What is conflict? a serious disagreement or argument, typically a protracted one.
- What is disagreement? lack of consensus or approval.
- What is argument? an exchange of diverging or opposite views.
From the 3 definitions above, you can see that argument is not a bad thing in business. In fact, it should be encouraged as long it’s handled the right way.
A good argument structure is a key to its effectiveness. Of course, the argument structure is not a magic wand to eradicate all conflict in business because there may be other root-causes of conflict.
However, the structure will create a laid down procedures to handle opposing views within a defined boundary.
In the books of Exodus and Leviticus, Moses laid down procedures on how the Israelites ought to treat one another in various matters. This is because arguments are bound to arise within a group of people living or working together.
Although, as an entrepreneur, there are different categories of people you may have arguments with. Some of which are; partners/co-founders, investors, employees etc.
Nevertheless, you can apply this argument structure to whoever you may have an argument with. Note that, an argument can arise in a physical or online meeting setting. Whatever the case, the same principle can be applied to both.
How to begin an argument
Let’s start with if you’re the one initiating the argument, that means you have an opposing view to an issue.
First, you have to access the situation from these 2 scenarios;
- It’s already done —That means your view can’t change anything, or even if it changes it causes more harm than good.
- It’s not done yet —That means something that can be changed when your view is heard
For the first scenario, there is no room for argument or debate because the end goal brings no positive result. It is done, let it go. However, if your view has to be noted for future reference, then raise your opinion during any of your team meetings.
Keep in mind, It’s just an opinion and your tone should sound that way.
Sometimes, when you oppose an action that has already been done, you risk demoralizing the person or people who were involved and this might negatively affect their work performance. Well, I’ll say that is totally unnecessary if the end goal is futile.
For the second scenario, there is room for an argument if it might cause a change. Then, put on your debate cap and get for your team too.
The 6 steps below are a godly ways to handle argument in business
- Create the right environment
- The theme for debate is clearly defined
- Seek first to understand then be understood
- The opposing party should listen first to the other party
- Make your points based on facts with references
- Reach a consensus – no winner or loser
1. Create the right environment
Before you embark on an argument or debate concerning any issue, please ensure it’s done at the right time and the right environment for the other party or parties involved.
It doesn’t matter if you’re the business owner. If your employees feel you oppose most of their ideas because of your “I am the boss” attitude, it hinders creativity because they will be discouraged to bring any new ideas.
After all, you’re quick to throw out all opposing ideas to yours without creating the right structure and environment to encourage healthy debates.
The disciples of Jesus engage in debates with the Jews in the synagogues and in public debates
“for he refuted the Jews vigorously in public debate…”Acts 18:28
‘Public debate‘ is the key phrase in the scripture above, it means the debate wasn’t held in random places but the appropriate environment.
Having the right environment for debate put all parties to voice their points with ease.
2. The theme for argument is clearly defined
After the right environment is set and all parties are ready, and just before the debate begins, the theme for the argument should be clearly stated.
All parties must understand the debate topic in its plain form. This is a time where any preconceived misconceptions can be raised and address.
For example, I have witness people argue without even knowing what the main issue was.
Therefore, clarify all that needs to be clarified and you might be amazed that this simple act may just answer some of the unspoken questions. Hence, no need to proceed with the debate.
3. Seek first to understand then be understood
This point similar to the fifth habits to be a highly effective Christian business leader inspired by Steven Covey’s book.
The number one goal to engage in any argument or debate is to learn. Political debates have created a wrong conception of what debate should be, where the parties are engaged to throw their points at one another without listening to the other.
As a Christian business leader when you engage in a debate, first empathize with the other party or parties. In doing so, you might discover something new you wouldn’t have known otherwise.
Also, you might realize they had stronger points than your opposing points. And this may bring the debate to a quick consensus instead of dragging it.
Jesus was faced with opposition many times while on earth especially from the Jews. He made sure to understand their point of view, before responding, either with a question or parable.
“Jesus replied, “I will ask you one question. Answer me, and I will tell you by what authority I am doing these things.”Mark 11:29
4. The opposing party should listen first to the other party
As a follow up to the point above, whenever you initiate an argument, that means you have an opposing view to an issue.
To begin the debate, listen first to those who are for the issue raised before those against. This is similar to standard debate setting, surprisingly people overlook this precedence.
This is important because it gives you the opportunity to listen to their points first. Thereafter, you can address loopholes based on their points. You ‘ll bet to score a stronger point if you follow this strategy.
Jesus had a good habit of listening to oppositions before making any remark. And this always put an end to any further debate that may arise. As written in Matthew;
“And He said to them, ’Whose image and inscription is this?’ They said to Him, “Caesar’s.”And He said to them, “Render therefore to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” When they had heard these words, they marvelled, and left Him and went their way.”Matthew 22:20-22
5. Make your points based on facts with references
For any argument to be successful it must be based on facts and references. Encourage your team to begin with points they can back-up with facts or reference.
Jesus and even His disciples always reference the scriptures or facts when engaged in debate.
Also, most of their facts were miracles, sign and wonders that all could see. This is why Paul said;
People do say “Talk is cheap but data is gold”, that’s right. Reliable data is gold in any argument, in fact, it’s a game-changer.
Therefore, every “I think “ points or personal opinion should be at the end of the debate. So that you wouldn’t completely rule out opinions that lack facts because it creates room for imaginations to be shared.
You never can tell if an opinion will be genius if not given a chance to be heard.
6. Reach a consensus
As mentioned earlier, the goal of every argument should be learning from the other. Therefore, no winner or loser mindset. ‘You disagree to agree’ at the end everyone should be happy with the final outcome.
If you can’t reach a consensus means the argument has resulted in disagreement and protracted disagreement is called conflict. Avoid this type of ending as much as possible.
In the book of Acts, the church had an argument on whether or not to circumcise the Gentiles believers. After much debate, they agreed on the matter and wrote a letter to the Gentile believers their stand (Acts 15).
Importantly, an entrepreneur with an innovative mindset should be aware that no idea is a loser. Because what might not be useful today might be valuable for another situation tomorrow.
Change is inevitable in the business world, therefore be flexible and adaptable.
Takeaway: Arguments is a good thing in business if it’s done in a proper structure. Godly ways to handle argument in business reduces frictions that result in conflict.
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