Ep #7: Dysfunctions of a Team: Confronting Your Fear of Conflict: Part 2

In this episode, Dr. Nick & Dr. Nicole discuss how a lack of trust leads to a fear of conflict. They cover how conflict is necessary and important to a business’s growth when done strategically, how to avoid frustrations, and how to provide quality feedback. Listen in to hear why conflict should be embraced!

“[With blinders] We’re doing to hinder our growth and decrease our chances of being more adaptable and create a more resilient business.” - Dr. Nick

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Noteworthy Time Stamps:

1:48 What the absence of trust leads to

3:49 Governing laws of physics

7:48 An example of conflict & feedback

9:24 How to enter meetings

11:30 How childhood & upbringing play a role

14:08 If you’re feeling THIS it’s an issue

15:05 Sneak peek for next episode… buy-in

17:53 How to engage conflict

LISTEN TO THE FULL EPISODE

Dr. Nicole:
This is the Integrative Entrepreneur Podcast where it’s not what you do, but how you do it. This is a podcast for entrepreneurs brought to you by entrepreneurs. We have been building a multi-million dollar healthcare business for over 10 years, and we have weaved together some of the best information for the people that are doing the best work in the business. This includes Dr. Demartini, who is a master in human behavior to Verne Harnish, who has created the methodology of scaling up that has scaled many, many of the best businesses that we all know of. We want you to not only have a business that you love, but also a life that you love.

So welcome back to another episode of the Integrative Entrepreneur Podcast. We have just had many technical difficulties trying to make this come to life, but we’re good.

Dr. Nick:
We’re here.

Dr. Nicole:
Dr. Nick’s already sweating.

Dr. Nick:
Technology and I, we’re not the best of friends.

Dr. Nicole:
Yeah. Well, considering you kicked the tripod, as we tried to embark on this, didn’t really help the situation.

Dr. Nick:
It was a good kick. I’m not going to lie.

Dr. Nicole:
But we are here to follow up on the five dysfunctions that are potentially happening in your organization. And we really started with absence of trust. And that was our very first part of this series. And just to reiterate, we’re working from the foundation up. So the absence of trust is really where it all starts, but the absence of trust also leads to other things. And one of the biggest things that it causes is fear of conflict in the organization. And this is really across the board when it comes to the CEO, to the leadership team, to any of the frontline employees. So in discussing this specific part, we’re just going to dive into what does this actually look like? Because what I think is a lot of companies have this concept of fear of conflict, but they’re looking at it as, everything’s good. Everything’s harmonious in my business and we don’t have problems. We don’t have obstacles. We don’t have stucks. And you’re living in a fantasy.

Dr. Nick:
That’s like saying there’s a perfect family. There’s no such thing.

Dr. Nicole:
What do you mean? Yeah, when it comes to looking at your business and feeling that there are more positives than drawbacks, you really have to reevaluate. Because as Dr. Nick gets into in the whole foundation of human behavior, which really is on the foundation of physics, is that everything is always in balance. And it doesn’t mean that there’s always catastrophe with good, but there’s always going to be obstacles and room for growth and improvement in your business. And if you feel that there are more positives than negatives that are going on, or that everything is great, and everyone is harmonious and everything is perfect, then chances are, there are things that you are putting blinders on too.

Dr. Nick:
And when we look at life through that lens it’s, going back really quick to the physics, if you haven’t listened to our previous conversations, definitely go back and listen to them. But what she’s really referring to is, when there’s governing laws that we have to abide by. And one of those is that for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. So when something is good is happening, there’s an equal and opposite bad happening. So it’s like when we look through the eyes of physics, we just look at it through a positive charge and a negative charge. So simply put, we call the positive charge, good things. We call the negative charge, bad things, or benefits and drawbacks.

So as an executive, as an entrepreneur really the foundational aspect is to grow, to expand, to evolve, to be able to help, and serve more people, as well as ourselves. And in doing so, we need to look at the good for sure, but if we have blinders on and we’re not able to see the bad, we’re going to actually hinder our growth, and we’re going to decrease our chances to be more adaptable and to create a more resilient business.

Dr. Nicole:
And just to be clear when we’re talking about bad, these are things that are maybe not always obvious to the eye, because having boring meetings is bad. Some people think, “Oh, no big deal who cares? We just do the meetings to make sure that everybody’s up to date with what’s happening. But nobody looks forward to the meetings and we just do them because we have to, because we have real work to be done.” And having boring meetings or unproductive meetings or meetings that everyone dreads to go to is a huge problem. And it’s a huge problem because if there’s no level of conflict in a meeting, it’s because there is fear of conflict. If there is no invitation to bring feedback to a potential campaign or project that is negative. Because you have an organization that is not necessarily working together to a bigger capacity to work towards a bigger goal that is beyond each individual in that organization.

And it’s because the CEO has potentially not set the foundation or set the stage that disagreeing is welcomed. And it’s okay if you disagree. And it’s not about being emotional, it’s about, if you disagree, please make sure you provide one to three details as to why you do not think this campaign will work or why you don’t think this is the right time to launch X or why you think this product is not going to be appropriate for our mission or our client. So it’s being really strategic about this, but it’s also making sure that, that invitation is there and that you are approachable as the CEO. That your leadership team is approachable, and that people know that feedback is welcomed. And it’s not about just like shut up and do your job and keep your head down.

Dr. Nick:
Yeah. And I want to jump back to what you said about meetings. Most people, even honestly, sadly, most companies, they don’t structure their meetings to be able to create a win. And have really that to be the start of the flywheel spinning, to create proper action, to be able to really achieve the goals in the most efficient way. And like you said, it’s not going back to what we say every freaking podcast. It’s not what you do, but how you do it. So when we understand that concept, it’s about creating very specific systems for the meeting format to run in a way that there is conflict. Because when we look at human behavior and we look at, previously we did a whole aspect on selling, it’s all about selling your ideas. And when we can sell our ideas, we need to have conflict because conflict actually allows us to see more, to be able to increase our awareness, our conscious awareness.

Dr. Nicole:
Well, that’s exactly what I was going to say is that, people see things that we can’t see. I was called out just the other day by our COO. And I was like, “Okay, so we have all these remote workers now.” I’m like, “Am I really just going to have an arsenal of 30 laptops so I can have remote workers?” I just feel like that’s not the best use of our money. And then she actually brought things to my attention that I wasn’t even thinking about. And she’s like, “Well, think about privacy. Think about that every single person working remote has all of our passwords on their personal laptops.” I’m like, “Wow, not even on my radar. Didn’t even think about that.”

So I was like in reality with the details that she brought to me, because it wasn’t emotional. It wasn’t like, “Oh, I just want to disagree with you.” It was like, “Well, here’s a couple of things that you’re probably not considering in this decision.” And then I was like, “You know what? I think that we should change the policy.” And I was like, “What you said makes sense and totally weighs out my reasoning for thinking that it wasn’t a good investment.”

Dr. Nick:
And if you haven’t read the book Principles by Ray Dalio, it’s amazing. I know it can be a lot.

Dr. Nicole:
It’s a long book.

Dr. Nick:
It can be a lot if your mind is really not into that. But one of my favorite principles throughout the book that he goes over and over and over and really beats it into you, is how he sets up both his life. But also structures how he goes into every single meeting and searches for the smartest people that disagree with him. And he does that in a specific way to increase that conscious awareness because he can only make the best decision based on the information that he knows. And to be able to vastly increase that as quick as possible, he wants somebody that’s either at least equally smart, if not smarter in the subject, but that disagrees with them. So he can learn from somebody very intelligent that has the complete opposite point of view.

And upon hearing that, they can have an argument, but it’s not an argument of who’s right. It just comes from like, when one of the things I take people through human behaviors, is looking at a straight line across. You could think of it like the equator and then everything north is a positive charge. Everything south of that is a negative charge. And when you look at a wavelength, it goes back and forth above and below. So that’s our level of awareness, how much we can see both above and below that line. And really when you think of it, he could be quote unquote in his mind, the positive and the person that disagree with him could be the negative. But by increasing that amount of awareness, he can actually come to the strongest meaning. And that’s when he look at through physics and mathematics, it’s the average, it’s the mean, and that’s what gives life its meaning. So when we can actually achieve that knowledge and make the best decision, we’re going to give ourselves the most meaningful action that we can take.

Dr. Nicole:
Yeah. And I do feel like even outside of Ray Dalio, there’s a lot of the individuals that have really built successful businesses that say the same thing, that feedback is absolutely essential to the growth and evolution of their business. And I do want to say that I think that this fear of conflict really comes deep, deep rooted into a lot of our programming. And these are things that we feared being criticized even as kids with dressing different, or playing a different sport, or having a different hobby. And this can all trickle into things later in life. And a lot of us in business, we all come from different backgrounds. We come from the healthcare background and our big focus was clinical and understanding science and biology and anatomy.

And you don’t get a background in business, but you don’t get a background really in human behavior, despite what people may think. And people is the heartbeat of your organization. If you don’t have the right people in the right seats, and you don’t have the ability to have transparent and honest conversations with those people, your business is going to be stagnant. And it’s putting critical topics on the table for negotiation. And knowing that if someone doesn’t agree with you, that it’s okay for them to say that as long, as they have some reasoning and valid details as to why, so that it can become an open discussion. And I know there’s many dynamics where individuals just keep things to themselves. And what you find is that there’s a lack of commitment to a project, or there’s a lack of passion behind a project. Because they don’t agree with the timelines, or they don’t agree with the campaign, or they don’t agree with the rollout of something, and they didn’t speak up about it.

So what you find is now deadlines are getting pushed or there were things that fell between the cracks or there was an individual cutting corners, or you have certain team members in a department that are pissed off because they feel that one or two members are not holding up their end of the bargain. And it’s really just goes back to buy-in and commitment. So that’s actually one of the next principles that we’re going to be getting into is lack of commitment. But the point is, is that if there’s no trust in your company, then you’re going to have people that are not willing to come to the table and say, “I don’t think this is going to work.” Or “I don’t agree with this.” Or “I think that this should be put on the table for discussion.”

And then the more you sweep under the rug, is the more you start to see this ripple effect in your culture. And it’s individuals that are cutting corners. They’re not giving their all, they have their running sneakers on at 5:00 PM, when shifts over. Or if you have remote workers, is that you’re now like, “Ooh, should we get a productivity software put on their laptop because I’m getting concerned that Sally’s really not doing what she’s supposed to do. And she might be taking a three-hour lunch for all I know.” Like if you’re having those feelings in your company, there’s an issue. And there’s probably a bigger issue than Sally’s not a good fit, because if Sally’s doing that, then I’m sure that there’s other people doing it.

And there’s a lot of conversation that’s happening behind the scenes. We all want to think that our employees are loyal to us. But there’s also going to be loyalty to each other and they are going to start voicing their issues and their feedback. But they’re going to do it to each other and you will not be involved as the CEO or the entrepreneur. And you will not have the ability to discuss it and have a solution for it.

Dr. Nick:
No, a hundred percent. And like when you’re looking at that, it comes back to buy-in, very simply put. And when you look at buy-in-

Dr. Nicole:
Hey, don’t go too deep into buy-in that’s the next one, lack of commitment in buy-in. Coincide my friend.

Dr. Nick:
Okay. So I’m not going to get too deep, but a pre-frame to looking at that, and I’m from the Midwest, I’m from Iowa. This is probably why I’m-

Dr. Nicole:
Sweeping under the rug status.

Dr. Nick:
So much into emotions and human behaviors, because we didn’t deal with any of that shit in the Midwest. So now I’m trying to become a master of it so I can understand all of my trauma. Just kidding, maybe a little bit. So when we look at buy-in and even going back to our first aspect of trust, what actually creates trust is conflict. And that was one of the biggest things that I actually learned coming to the East Coast. And it’s-

Dr. Nicole:
Where we scared the shit out of you.

Dr. Nick:
Oh, it doesn’t make any sense. You guys, you’re just freaking mutants. I love you. But it’s really like, pardon my French, but it wasn’t until I told somebody to go fuck themselves, that they respected me. And it took me even longer to understand that whole process, but that was the conflict of being able to stand up for what you believe. Doesn’t matter-

Dr. Nicole:
But you matched the energy of that person.

Dr. Nick:
In that moment, yeah. I was matching the person. And I didn’t say, go fuck yourself in a negative way. But kind of setting the boundary kind of way. But when you come into meetings that’s not how we want to come across. Because the goal is to create that win-win relationship where you’re being yourself, whether you’re the employer or the employee that you’re serving yourself as well as the business. So it needs to be a win-win, needs to be a fair exchange. And that’s why conflict is so important because without conflict, it’s usually a win-loss where whether one side is getting their needs filled, whether it’s the business or the employee. But then the other side loses. So if the employee is being quiet and they have a conflict of interest, they’re going to serve themselves. They’re not going to put in the effort, they’re not going to do all the things that the business really needs and the business suffers and vice versa. So-

Dr. Nicole:
Well, that comes back to what we were talking about on one of the previous podcasts, when it was like humble, hungry, and smart. And we talked about this in reference to hiring a salesperson, but it’s really valid for any position across the board. And part of being humble is not running around with it or avoiding running around with an ego. But it’s really coming down to like, are you self-serving? Is everything you’re doing in the business for your own benefit? Or are you also considering what’s best for the business?

Dr. Nick:
Yeah. A hundred percent. And it just needs to be that fair exchange and that equanimity. And so when we’re an intelligent owner or intelligent manager, whoever’s running the meeting actually needs to be pretty much trained how to engage conflict. And when I want to say engage, I don’t mean to create, I mean, to be able to support because when you look at growth, growth is a combination of support and challenge. And optimal growth is going to be an even amount of support and challenge. So as a leader, we need to be able to both support and challenge conflict. So conflict isn’t a good or a bad thing. It’s how we use it. We can misuse conflict and it can destroy meetings, and it can destroy companies, it can join destroy seminars. It could be very evil thing. But at the equal and opposite side of things, if we’re intelligent, we know how to use conflict to be able to serve our highest values, then it can be a very beautiful thing.

Dr. Nicole:
Yeah. And even just a simple example on that as we wrap up is, it’s sometimes in the verbiage as well. So we were having huddles and we were also having weekly meetings. And one of the parts of that meeting was do you have any stucks? But individuals were getting very tactile or task oriented without of like, “Oh, I don’t have this outline created for this client.” Or “I’m missing a video for the marketing campaign and we had to start rephrasing it.” And I was like, “No, it’s not just about stucks.” It’s like, we’re you frustrated? We’re you overwhelmed? And people were like, “Oh.” Because what happened is we had one employee who her schedule got really busy, really fast, and she didn’t have a lot of time to do appropriate prep for her appointments.

And we just started to notice a lot of overwhelm and frustration. And we realized that just by saying present your stucks, was not bringing these other issues to the surface. So it has to be very strategic on how you’re stepping into the meetings, but you also have to be prepared as the leader in order to handle the situation so that it doesn’t spiral into something that it doesn’t need to be. So these are some key things that we’re teaching in the Growth Institute, because you want to be really strategic with the feedback that’s being provided. And then when you do have multiple individuals that maybe there is something that elicits a little bit more of a heated conversation is, what is the standard and the boundaries that are set, that people are not crossing a line and becoming inappropriate or rude or aggressive?

And if there is issues with coming to a resolution on their own, what are the strategies that you have as the leader to really be able to resolve the situation because not everything is going to be resolved by your team. But it’s knowing that the CEO really has the last say after weighing out the feedback from multiple individuals. So we really acknowledge the pain points of meetings and these types of conversations and these types of dynamics and businesses. But just know that there are very strategic ways to go about this. And there are ways that you can maximize your meetings so that you build better and better accountability and company culture.

Dr. Nick:
Yeah. And just a quick recap, going over just the simplicity of when we grow, we need both challenge and support. If a meeting’s only supportive, there’s no challenge. So we’re really not growing.

Dr. Nicole:
Well, the challenge is happening elsewhere.

Dr. Nick:
Correct.

Dr. Nicole:
And then it surprises you because then there’s a shit show.

Dr. Nick:
So it’s about creating the challenge, which can come through conflict. So when you’re intelligent, we can both design, support, and challenge in a way to be able to maximize growth evolution and fun.

Dr. Nicole:
Definitely. Well, as we mentioned, all of these things are the foundations. So when we have lack of trust and we have the fear of conflict. This is what then will lead into lack of commitment. And we’re going to dive a little bit more into that topic as we roll into the next one.

Dr. Nick:
You’ve reached the end of another episode of the Integrative Entrepreneur Podcast. Connect with us @integrativegrowthinstitute.com. Don’t forget to sign up to our newsletter to receive our free materials. See you at the next episode.

Dr. Nicole:If you love today’s episode of Integrative Entrepreneur Podcast, please head over to iTunes, subscribe, rate, and leave us a review. It is very much appreciated. Thank you.

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