Dealing with Enemies and Conflict

Here is a great article on how two Best Buy power players, the Founder and the new CEO, went from enemies to a unified front.  The three main points on how the new CEO diffused the situation are as follows.

Show humility
This is the most common error I see.  People think "respect" is earned through power, structure, and establishing dominance (i.e. I'm smarter, I'm tougher).  The whole Alpha Dog syndrome.  The problem is the eventual unproductive outcome when two Alpha Dogs meet, refuse to back down, and ultimately fight it out to see who really is the dominate one.  Humility can take the edge off of another party vs. escalating the tensions and entrenching pride.  
Tap your relationships to defuse tension
When meeting someone new in a tense situation, mutual acquaintances can add "safety."  Uncomfortable new beginnings happen a lot in work or personal life.  For example, if we take over a client, and some of the staff love the previous vendor, finding someone they know and respect who can say "I've worked with them and enjoyed the experience" can take some of the edge off.  It doesn't mean they stop liking the competitor or account rep, but they may be more open to the fact we may not be so bad and they might give us a more fair shake.
A little bit of give and take
Negotiation is about trading things that people value more or less so each party feels they received a good deal.  If a miner with millions in gold is starving, they may value a piece of gold less than a farmer who has plenty of food, but no long-term security.  I can see the Founder valued his legacy greatly and felt it was being diminished.  Showing respect for that desire was not hard or costly for the new CEO, and his main goal was to eliminate the hostile take-over so he could unify and run the company.  They both won because they traded things they each valued less for something they valued more.

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