Coming to a crossroads in marketing is fairly common. We live at a point where strategy meets budget, scope meets quality, and priorities meet deadlines. Given the highly personal nature of what we do this crossroads often starts to look like an impasse. Each side digging into their position either because of of personal feelings or business factors. The October Freelance Exchange of KC lunch with Cami Travis-Groves took at look at how we move past an impasse to a higher ground.
Travis-Groves began by explaining how we often reach an impasse and ways to avoid them. Her advice:
- Don’t Take It Personal – When discussing your business or your work it is hard to remove yourself from the picture. Feedback on a project is just that, commentary on the project or issue, not you. Take a step back and realize, it isn’t personal.
- Listen With the Intent to Understand – When emotions are running high we tend to listen just enough to start formulating our response, this doesn’t allow us to truly hear. Take the time to listen with the intent to understand the other person’s full point of view.
- Let Your Actions Speak For You – Telling someone you are committed to a collaborative partnership is great, unless you don’t take the actions to be in a committed partnership. Be true to your word with your actions. Work through disagreements with the intent to come to strengthen, not weaken, working relationships.
- Don’t Inherit Other People’s Emotions – Anxiety, stress, anger are all powerful emotions and they are easy to put out and easy to pick up. Reflecting negative emotions only unnecessarily escalates a situation, don’t do it.
- Decide How You Respond – Take notice of the word choice. Decide how you respond, not how you react. Reactions are rarely thoughtful, responses are. Make a conscious decision of how you will respond in each situation.
While practicing these techniques can help us stay away from creating an impasse, sometimes they are unavoidable. Once you’re there, you don’t have the option to stay stagnant or walk away from a project. You have to be able to move to a higher ground. Here is how Cami suggests to do that:
- Identify The Emotion – It’s as simple as saying, “It seems like you’re really frustrated.” By identifying the emotion it allows someone to recognize, then disengage from it.
- Restate The Issues – Explaining the issues helps 1) show you are listening and 2) clarify any misunderstandings.
- Ask For A Solution – Ask the other party for their ideal outcome. By this time they will likely see you’re invested in finding a reasonable outcome and will be willing to meet you partway. But maybe not…
- If All Else Fails, Ask For A Time Out – It’s perfectly acceptable to ask for some time to step away from a discussion, rethink your approach or possible solutions, and revisit when you’ve had time to regroup.
Many of the ideas in the FX Lunch are based on taking time to slow down our decision making process, in our fast-paced world that can be difficult. Additionally, it will take practice to naturally incorporate these techniques into your work processes. Nothing feels less authentic than robotically walking through “Conflict Resolution Steps,” that can often push resolution further away. When we take time to work through the steps Travis-Groves shared, incorporating them in an authentic way, we can potentially avoid conflict, but when it does arise we can work through it to find a higher ground.