I am finishing a book, my last Army boss gave me over a decade ago called “Leadership Lessons from General Ulysses S. Grant.” Mostly it’s a collection of excerpts from Grant’s journals picked out as a series of leadership vignettes. In one of them, Grant describes Lincoln’s ability to tell stories as far more effective than any other form of explanation. Particularly neutralizing criticism, because we can eliminate conflict through stories.
As men, we tend to compartmentalize our lives. We are good at applying principles in some areas of our lives, but not others. That’s why stories are helpful because without feeling insulted, we can see how what we do in one part of our life can make us just as successful in other areas.
One story that I like to use to deescalate conflict, I picked up as a Contract Administrator back at ExxonMobil. My Contractor counterpart, who was an attorney, told me how for a while, she worked in divorce arbitrations. One time, she was dealing with a wealthy couple who agreed on millions of dollars of the property but got hung up on who will get the cat’s ashes. Melissa got desperate not to let the multimillion-dollar settlement fall through over the cat’s ashes, so she started throwing out random ideas. Whatever came to her head! All of a sudden, she blurted out, “How about if we roll a dice for it?” To her surprise, both of the parties agreed.
I asked her, why did she think they both agreed so quickly? She said it’s because it was never about Cat’s ashes. The conflict was about who gets the power to decide. Once they agreed to give the authority to chance, by rolling the dice, everyone was happy!
What conflict are you facing in your personal or professional life? How can you use stories to get a fresh start?
Are you struggling in a relationship? Do you have a specific view of where your relationship should be, but don’t know how to get there?
You are stuck because your mind doesn’t see how you can improve the situation. That’s why you have a hard time taking action. You need someone to show you a new approach that will make transformation simple!
After the Relationship Audit, you will:
1. Understand how your actions are affecting the relationship.
2. Learn how simple skills will turn this relationship into a source of strength.
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