The AAA Continuum©
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Avoid Address Attack
When you are faced with conflict or unmet needs, would you say that more often than not you tend to avoid? Or would you say that you tend to attack? In many organizational environments there appears to be a distinct common denominator to the approach to conflict. When faced with conflict, many executives and leaders choose either to go into avoid mode or they choose the polar opposite, they choose the attack mode. It usually seems to be an either-or option
When choosing to avoid conflict a person is willing to subordinate their needs or goals to “keep the peace”. The problem with the avoid mode is that little productive information or understanding is likely to be exchanged and the person choosing avoid is left with unmet needs and often the sour aftertaste of resentment. Nothing has changed, so it is likely similar scenarios will re-emerge. Since little productive information is exchanged lower quality output may be a resulting likelihood.
At the opposite end of the continuum is the choice to attack. This is a combat-ready approach. Perhaps influenced by behavioral style, perhaps by cultural norm, the person choosing attack mode is immediately heard. Depending upon their organizational or political status, the attacker may or may not achieve the results for which they fight. Just as with avoid mode, little productive information is exchanged. Understanding and quality problem solving tend to be absent.
As opposite as avoid and attack may appear to be on the surface, they both really are quite similar. From a net-outcomes standpoint these polar extremes share similarities such as isolation, low quality work-product, low relationship building and poor information flow. The organization experiences little productive benefit.
There is an antidote and it’s best characterized by a third A-word. It is found in a range or zone near the middle of the continuum and that is Address. Address is an advanced set of leadership strategies seldom taught in many organizations. With the exception of Leader Effectiveness Training© (L.E.T.), many leadership strategies/skill suites miss the mark. Unmanaged conflict at both ends of the continuum costs American business billions of dollars a year in lost productivity. Conflict management is truly a bottom line issue.
When we do choose to address rather than avoid or attack, we almost always come out of the interchange feeling considerably better. So do those around us (both at work and at home). The benefits derived from the collaborative practice of addressing tend to be higher quality solutions of lasting value as well as increased & enhanced productivity.
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