When you are self employed, aka your own boss, one of the biggest challenges can be when you find yourself in a conflict situation. You have no one to be on your side and back you up and no one to give you advice, so you need to be your own best friend and have a little action plan on how to deal with conflict without loosing your cool or getting emotionally hurt.
You have to always remember: no one can take your power away from you and in business, being respected is a lot more important than being liked. However to be both is very possible.
Because I am a women in a male prominent field and that my collaborators and investors are usually older (most are in their 40s or 50s and I am in my 20s), I've been in a few situations where people tried to bully or intimidate me. Weak and sweet young career women? I don't think so. I am a business person and I always stand up for myself. This has paid off for me and earned me credibility in my field (which is your most valuable asset!). And I've never had to be mean or scream to get there. Ever.
Here are the tips I suggest you use to resolve conflict in a pro active way:
♥ Be empathic. Usually if there is conflict, it's because someone is upset. You want to take the time to listen to the other person's point and view and respect it even if you don't agree with it. The last thing you want is for the other person to get even more upset, because then they usually get mean (hugh). Let them know clearly that you understand them. By giving them a listening ear and staying calm, it should calm them down too.
♥ Ask questions. Not only do you want to understand their point of view, but you want them to understand by themselves that they are not making sense by asking them questions and them getting caught or confused in their answers.
♥ Watch your tone. It should not be to high or angry, but it should not be too low and sweet neither. Remember: your goal is to get respected in this situation! It should be deep and a little slower than usual to show control and authority.
♥ Explain your point of view. Once you have listened to the other person and calmed them down, you need to explain clearly in words the other person can understand and relate to your side of the story. Everybody sees things differently and most conflicts are usually just misunderstanding. It's very important that your point comes across, so make sure you have solid arguments to back your way of doing or thinking in this particular situation. Repeat them more than once if the other person is not pro actively using their listening skills. You are important, your point needs to come across.
♥ Deal with this situation in person. E-mails can be interpreted so easily. You want to be physically in the same space as the other person or on the phone if that's not possible. No need to let it linger, you'll only be hurting yourself (and give time to the other person to bad mouth you, which you don't want nor deserve).
♥ Don't play games (even if the other person does). Be straight forward and always remember your goal: to be respected as the great business person that you are. It's not about being right or channeling frustration. Name calling, imitating or bullying will get you nowhere.
♥ Don't let it get to you. Even the greatest business icons in the world get in conflict situations. Do not let it affect your self value, for it doesn't. If it makes you sad or mad, deal with the situation and you will feel much better afterwards I promise.
The thing is: no matter what field you work in, wether you are self employed or not, there are going to be situations like these. Having a plan to fix them quickly will avoid feeling sad or questioning your value. You are awesome, don't ever let anyone convince you otherwise!
And remember: people that take time to be mean and create conflict are not putting that energy in building their success. You are achieving your dreams and no one can stop you! They'll be eating their shorts when you win an Oscar (aka achieve your goals and have much success, to it's the Oscars, ha ha!).
Luckily these situations don't come everyday. And they make us stronger!
Read the other articles of the Your The Boss Apple Sauce series here :)
Shine on everyone!
Necklace and textured tights: Simons
Fabulous street art by Peter Reuben Finley
Photos by: Sophie Bernier