In a startup, when a team reaches a conflict due to a problem it is easy to begin to point fingers, rather than coming together and finding a solution. One of the first steps to take when approaching a conflict in a startup is to assess your own ability to solve the conflict and knowing what you must do to be welcoming and open minded to other teammates ideas. After all, a brilliant idea is worthless without a team to execute it.

The old adage “your actions speak volumes” is never more obvious than when you’re involved in a conflict situation. Controlling one’s voice and tone is easier than managing one’s body language. While the person will hear what you’re saying they may discount it based on what they are seeing.  Crossed arms, facial expressions, stiff posture will all convey a defensive or angry disposition even if your words and tone are friendly or neutral.  

The best way to manage body language is via your mental state. If you’re thinking positively your verbal and body language will match, resulting in a more consistent message and a trustworthy appearance.  Trust is absolutely critical to successful outcomes.

A critical element of trust is demonstrating interest and focus, both of which are best done with eye contact.  Keeping constant eye contact, a steady body and neutral to positive facial expressions all communicate you’re genuinely interested in what you’re being told.  

This makes what your opponent is saying legitimate to you and meaningful to them. Combining eye contact with active listening, or “parroting back” what you’re being told, maximizes trust that you’re truly engaged in what’s being communicated.

Once you’ve determined your own capability for engaging, you can move on to to the other key elements of a successful outcome leading to creating win-win options.

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