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I’ve been called upon, as I’m sure many of you have, to mediate disagreements within client organizations. Sometimes people holding reasonable and logical opposing views can’t sort things out themselves because of the passions involved, and often the organization’s leadership can’t because of cultural and political baggage. I’ve found that these conflicts are usually over either objectives (the proper destination) or alternatives (the proper route to the agreed-upon destination). I have processes that can sort that out quickly, it’s not rocket science.

However, occasionally I run into an unwillingness to listen. I find people offended by the inoffensive, resentful, taking umbrage. They take everything personally, an affront rather than a disagreement.They feel poorly treated but believe it’s so self-evident that any attempt to reconcile the differences or mediate are simply rejected. “I’m right, they’re wrong.” They often threaten to leave, or stop cooperating, or even stop communicating. They won’t listen.

When people aren’t interested in talking and reconciling disagreements for the greater good, I tell management to help them to leave. Because we’re right, and they’re wrong.

Written by

Alan Weiss is a consultant, speaker, and author of over 60 books. His consulting firm, Summit Consulting Group, Inc., has attracted clients from over 500 leading organizations around the world.

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