This is part 2 of a post orginated on ARC Communications.
Personality differences, past run-ins or office politics – whatever the cause, Bad Blood can make meetings uncomfortable and stymie progress.
Worse, Bad Blood can spread across an organization and shut down collaboration before it even starts.
If you’re on the outside of such a situation, you’re actually in a good position to help remedy it. Can you be a go-between or a neutral third party?
Take the role seriously. Avoid taking sides, and never share what is said in confidence. Your role isn’t to mediate the argument or solve the underlying problem. It’s to focus on what matters: the work of the organization.
If there’s no chance that will work, seek inroads elsewhere. One of my Bad Blood experiences was with two senior management members. I wasn’t going to fix the underlying conflict. It involved budgets and egos and other stuff I didn’t understand.
Instead, I knew there were plenty of people in both of their departments who got along, saw how our work intersected and wanted to collaborate. So, on the frontlines we started planning and implementing small projects together.
Of course, there was friction. Sometimes it felt like there were as many steps backward as there were forward. Still, we persisted.
Eventually, our bosses went with the momentum. They never became friends, or even friendly with each other. But they both supported the work that was happening, which was what really mattered.
If you find yourself in a Bad Blood relationship, take some time to figure out what your real beef is. Most can be overcome. You just have to put personal issues (and ego) aside and keep the organization’s mission at the center. If you differ on how exactly to do that, consider these approaches:
- Seek to understand what the other person’s goals, challenges and priorities. Share what yours are. Find the common ground and ask, how can we work together to get this done?
- Find a neutral third party who can help facilitate conversations and problem-solving.
- Take baby steps. What’s the least you can settle for? Start with that and work from there.