In our business journey, it is all too easy to treat challenging situations like the proverbial monster under the bed: out of sight and out of mind. But just as ignoring these imagined monsters is like feeding them after midnight, turning a blind eye to problems can amplify them. Unresolved conflicts and avoided conversations can grow, becoming far more intricate and difficult to navigate, often spiralling into complexities far beyond the original issue. In this post, I encourage you to take a brave peek into the darkness with me. Let’s explore the significance of addressing issues early-on, ensuring they don’t evolve into bigger, scarier, more dangerous problems.
Difficult situations almost never go away if you ignore them
Micro business owners, especially those working solo from home, may feel that, unlike larger enterprises, they can sidestep certain conflicts given the small scale of their operations. It can be tempting to avoid dealing with a problem in order to maintain a positive image or because you really don’t want to have a difficult or uncomfortable conversation. Unfortunately, in the majority of cases this will ultimately make the problem worse and lead to bigger issues down the road, as the other person will often become more aggressive or adversarial if they feel that you are ignoring or ghosting them – or if you are the person wronged, they may feel they have gotten away with it and be less likely to apologise or even admit to their part in creating the problem.
Avoiding conflict can also have a massive impact on your mental and emotional well-being, leading to feelings of stress, anxiety and even depression. Our imaginations have a tendency to catastrophise, so what could be a relatively easy fix if dealt with promptly can be blown out of all proportion if we give our fears plenty of time to play with it.
Rather than pushing a problem into the recesses of tomorrow’s tasks, it’s wiser to address it head-on. Draft a response, even if it’s to ask for more information, time to consider their proposition more thoroughly, or to thank them for their patience and let them know you will get in touch with a more detailed answer in due course. This not only shows your commitment but also sets the stage for open dialogue. A quick check-in call or a brief email can often nip potential issues in the bud and keeps the lines of connection open, while reassuring your subconscious that you are taking positive action.
Unresolved conflict damages relationships
Relationships are the backbone of your business. A tarnished relationship with a client, collaborator, or another service provider can have repercussions that impact every aspect of your operation. When issues are left to fester instead of being addressed and resolved quickly, it can lead to feelings of betrayal and mistrust, making it difficult for each of you to rely on the other’s word when you do attempt to resolve the issues, as your trust in each other has been lost.
Allowing lines of communication to wither and die by ghosting or avoiding someone or refusing to communicate with them about a problem is a very effective way to destroy a relationship. Making the effort to reach out may be terrifying, but without communication you will never be able to find common ground. Furthermore, as many solo entrepreneurs operate from the comfort of their homes, the line between personal and professional often blurs. We have close relationships with those we work with and often think of our client as friends. Telling them that we are unhappy, or responding compassionately and with understanding when they are not happy with us is even more difficult when you are emotionally invested in the relationship. Unresolved conflict of this kind can easily deprive you of the mental peace essential for creativity and problem-solving, damage your confidence, and hinder the smooth flow of your business operations and interactions.
Unresolved conflict puts a strain on the emotional well-being of everyone involved. It may feel like the easier path, to ignore it and hope that it will go away, but in reality, all of those feelings of anger and frustration or guilt and regret that you are trying to shove out of sight will impact your health and happiness unless you find a way to resolve them. It can help to remember that the same is true for the other person as well. Taking proactive steps to address the crux of the matter can restore balance. Whether it’s a clarification call where you each have an opportunity to share your feelings, an email outlining your perspective and acknowledging theirs, or seeking external mediation where a neutral third party helps guide the conversation, resolution is often a bridge to strengthened relationships and renewed trust. However, first you need to get clear on what is most important to you in the situation. For example, you may need to choose between a peaceful compromise that preserves the relationship, and your pride’s need to prove that you haven’t done anything wrong!
Shine a light into the dark places with empathy & compassion
For solo entrepreneurs and home-based micro-business owners, the isolation can sometimes lead us to overthink and exaggerate issues. The “monsters” in our minds often seem more menacing than they truly are. These imagined barriers can hinder the growth and success of our enterprises, limiting our potential. That is why I am encouraging you to confront problems sooner rather than later – to nip them in the bud, rather than composting them with stress and anxiety until they grow into a barrier of thorns that you can no longer see a way out of.
Shining a light on these issues is the first step towards addressing them. Empathy and compassion serve as powerful tools in these scenarios. When you approach conflicts with a genuine desire to understand the other party’s perspective, you’re laying down a foundation of trust. It’s crucial to recognise that each person involved is dealing with their own unique set of emotions, challenges, and fears. Using empathy and compassion to help you imagine and intuitively understand the other person’s point of view can help you to find a resolution that works for both of you. This may be to gain closure and end a relationship that is no longer serving you, or in a best case scenario, revitalise a positive and supportive relationship that is strong enough to face challenges and survive.
In our close-knit business world, word travels fast. Handling issues with grace and understanding not only gives you your best chance of salvaging the relationship at hand, it can also bolster your reputation among peers and potential clients. By demonstrating your commitment to resolution and harmony, you position yourself as a professional who values relationships over short-term gains. Remember, it’s never about who’s right or wrong. It’s about understanding, growth, and moving forward with renewed clarity and trust. So, the next time you sense a budding issue, don’t wait. Reach out from a place of curiosity and good faith. Lean in with empathy, initiate a dialogue, and watch as many of those dark corners brighten up, revealing clearer paths ahead. You might be surprised by how often the other person will be willing to meet you half way – especially if you frame the conversation in ways that generate options for everyone’s needs to be met by attacking the problem together (instead of fighting with each other from different sides of the problem).
How I can help
Navigating conflict, especially when emotions run high and business relationships are at stake, is a delicate task. It’s easy to become overwhelmed, second-guess ourselves, or wish for guidance on the best steps forward. If you find yourself in the maze of a challenging situation, unsure of the next right move or simply needing a fresh perspective, consider reaching out for support. Whether you’re searching for clarity, perspective, or even just a moment to vent, I’m here to help. Book a Conflict with Compassion consultation today, and together, let’s pull the monsters out from under the bed and look at them in the light! It’s nowhere near as scary when you have someone holding your hand.