Negotiations can be hard. Especially when it is over something emotional like buying a new home. During our move to Atlanta, we found a house we really liked, but it was over-priced. After a long period of back and forth with a stubborn seller and a rude real estate agent, we finally agreed on a price.
It seemed that we gave a lot more than we got during the negotiation process and I wasn’t willing to budge anymore. We went through the due diligence period and conducted an inspection. All went well until the day of closing.
I walked through the house just before closing and noticed water damage and a big hole in the laundry room drywall. I was furious. Somehow the damage was missed in the inspection process, and the sellers didn’t disclose it to us.
This was the last straw!
I called my agent and told her I was very frustrated with the seller and agent’s unethical behavior. I demanded that the hole be fixed or I’d delay closing. My agent conveyed the message to the seller.
Then, I went to closing.
Closing is always interesting…You have the sellers and their agent, you and your agent and the closing attorney around a big table. I’ve found that the meeting can be brief and transactional or it can be contentious.
I had a decision to make. Would I be forceful and ensure my demands would be met or would I try to connect with the folks in the room to help the process go smoothly?
Here’s what I wrote in my journal to record the closing events:
Before the seller and their agent arrived, I told the closing attorney that I would withhold the equity check until we get the laundry room drywall issue resolved.
The sellers and their agent came into the conference room about 30 minutes later. Obviously, the seller’s agent came loaded for bear. The first thing she said to me was ‘okay, what’s this I hear about not signing papers until the drywall issue is resolved?’
It was the moment of decision. How would I handle this situation?
I write and talk to others about Christian leadership in our communities, workplaces, and schools. Honoring God in all that we do, being a witness, making a positive difference, treating people with dignity and respect. Would I walk the talk?
I decided to take the high road.
Walk the talk. Be who I say I am.
Connect with the people in the room.
Defuse the situation.
Immediately, I redirected the conversation and spent time complimenting the sellers on the beautiful home and said that we loved the neighborhood.
The mood instantly lifted, and we began getting to know one another.
I discovered that they go to Johnson Ferry Baptist Church (where we attended) and their kids went to Walton High School. She worked at Publix. He went to a small college in Mississippi.
After this, I asked, “so, tell me a little bit about the laundry room.”
They profusely apologized about the water damage and non-disclosure (not sure how they missed this as they had the room re-tiled a couple of months ago). They said it should cost $100 to repair.
I said ok. No contingency needed.
I told them that I trusted that they will take care of it. Then the seller’s agent sat back with a sense of relief and uttered in disbelief, “thank you.”
This is an excellent example of being a Christian and treating people well. The Lord allowed me to defuse the situation quickly. This was not manipulation, but understanding and connecting with people. This was a hard negotiation but no need to hold a grudge at the end of the game. As the seller put it, “it’s a win-win for everyone.”
Three Ways to Live Out Your Faith in the Real World
1 Walk the Talk:Be
2 Defuse Contentious Situations:Dale Carnegie taught me that the best way to win an argument is to avoid it. To prevent molehills from becoming mountains and win people to your way of thinking, begin in a friendly way. I recommend connecting with people through complements or humor. It’s amazing how quickly the ice breaks and tension eases. The Bible says, “Pleasant words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones.” Proverbs 16:24 (NASB95). When you work to defuse contentious situations, it will clear the path to alignment or agreement.
3 The “How” Matters More Than The “What”:How you achieve a goal is often more important than what you do to get there. How you treat people matters. Deal with others well, and you will be dealt with well. Care about others. Take a genuine interest in them, and they will reciprocate. The Bible says, “Do to others whatever you would like them to do to you. This is the essence of all that is taught in the law and the prophets.” Matthew 7:12 (NLT). I always remind people that we will be remembered not for what we did but how we treated others.
If you walk the talk, defuse contentious situations and know that the “how” matters more than the “what,” you will become a discipled leader.
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Pres> Read More
My team and I were invited to a strategic business partner’s corporate headquarters to think about what’s possible and innovate. I viewed the trip as an excellent opportunity to retreat, bond as a team and shape our future.
I approached my manager, Kevin, about the opportunity. He hesitated and then said, “Most trips like these end up being boondoggles. Do you think you’re going to accomplish anything?”
“Yes, I do. I’m confident that we’ll come back with fresh ideas and take our business to the next level”, I replied.
Kevin said, “I have my doubts. I tell you what, put together an agenda with specific objectives and I’ll take a look. If I agree with your proposal, I’ll okay the trip.”
“Great and thanks. I’ll come back to you shortly”, I said.
Over the next few days, I collaborated with my team and our business partner to develop a very specific agenda and desired outcome. Then, I shared it with Kevin. A chronic micromanager, he asked us to make multiple changes to the plan. Once the topics were aligned with Kevin’s feedback, he begrudgingly agreed to let us go.
My team jumped into action and made the necessary coverage arrangements to ensure we could break away with limited distractions. We activated our email out of office messages notifying internal customers that we were out for a short time and provided backup contact information.
The next day, we loaded the van and headed to our destination. My team was beaming with excitement and anticipation. They’d been on trips like this before and understood the potential our retreat held. As we drove, we connected on both personal and professional levels. We talked optimistically about how we could advance our vision of being industry leaders and indispensable partners.
When we arrived, we were escorted into our business partner’s innovation lab where all of the futuristic designs inspired us. Next, we moved into a creative thinking lab to begin formulating ideas and developing plans.
Then, the first email hit… And another… And another. A series of 10 or more emails from Kevin appeared on our iPhones within 30 minutes. He was following up on projects, providing feedback and checking in… Just to let us know he was there.
His last email’s subject line read, TURN OFF YOUR OUT OF OFFICE MESSAGE.
In the body of the email, Kevin wrote that having our out of office message turned on sent the wrong message to leadership and internal customers. It was our job to be accessible at all times regardless of what we were doing or who was covering for us.
I thought to myself, “Ugh. Really? If that isn’t micromanagement, I don’t know what is.”
I looked around the room and saw discouragement, frustration, and anger on my team’s faces. Some became distracted and anxious. Everyone began to disengage from the creative thinking discussion mentally.
At a break, I gathered my team to ask their thoughts about the emails. They shared with me that they went to great lengths to ensure our time away would be productive and distraction free. They wondered if it was a mistake to take the trip. Kevin’s micromanagement tendencies surfaced, and the team felt disenfranchised.
I understood their concerns. I asked the team to return to the meeting and told them that I’d gently respond to Kevin’s emails. I asked them to not make a mountain out of a molehill and turn off the out of office messages. Lastly, I asked them to stay focused on the purpose of our meeting and ignore distractions.
The good news is that the team returned to the meeting and developed a visionary plan. Also, I ran interference by answering Kevin’s emails and asking the team to turn off the out of office messages. By engaging Kevin on behalf of the team, I was able to assuage his need to feel in control. We didn’t hear from him again during our trip.
Micromanagers can be burdensome. I know from personal experience. Here’s what I learned:
- Remember Who You’re Working For– If you keep your eyes on God and embrace the fact that you’re ultimately working for him, you’ll maintain a positive attitude regardless the circumstance. The Bible says, “Work willingly at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people.” (Colossians 3:23 NLT)
- Submission Is Key– It’s easy to work for a great boss. The hard part is working for and submitting to a bad boss…. But when you do, God is pleased. The Bible says, “You who are servants, be good servants to your masters—not just to good masters, but also to bad ones. What counts is that you put up with it for God’s sake when you’re treated badly for no good reason. There’s no particular virtue in accepting punishment that you well deserve. But if you’re treated badly for good behavior and continue in spite of it to be a good servant, that is what counts with God. (1 Peter 2:18–20 – The Message)
- Bite Your Tongue– I disciplined myself to communicate in a positive way and to not show irritation if I became frustrated. The Bible says, “A gentle answer deflects anger, but harsh words make tempers flare.” (Proverbs 15:1 – NLT)
In spite of desperate circumstances, I grew leaps and bounds during the three years I worked with Kevin. I learned to cope with his management style in the short term. Eventually, I realized that Kevin’s style and mine weren’t compatible, the intense micromanagement I experienced wasn’t sustainable, and I decided to move into another role.
I challenge you to apply the above principles, and if you do, you’ll manage through a micromanager.> Read More
Our manager, Kevin suddenly charged into the room and sat down at the conference table.
“Okay, let’s see what you’ve got!” he exclaimed.
“Hi, Kevin. How are you today?” I said with a smile trying to lighten his mood and begin our meeting on a positive note.
Kevin replied, “I don’t have time today for small talk. Let’s go through your presentation and determine next steps.”
Over the next 15 minutes, Peter, my teammate, and I presented three different promotional displays to Kevin. We discussed the construction, benefits and potential cost of each display. Kevin seemed to like the options and asked how we could gain national customer team feedback.
The conversation came up once before, and I recommended that we use an internet survey. Kevin turned it down the first time. During this discussion, I thought I’d revisit the survey option. After I mentioned it, Kevin shook his head and said, “Nope, already rejected.”
I gently pushed back and asked him to reconsider. I began my response with, “I don’t mean to challenge you but….”
Not good. As soon as the words left my mouth, Kevin’s face turned red, he slammed his computer shut and shouted: “But you are challenging me, and I don’t appreciate it!” Throwing a tantrum, he got up and began to walk out of the room. Wanting to solve the issue, I followed him out the door. I asked Kevin to wait a moment and told him that I was just trying to make a suggestion. I told him I didn’t appreciate being treated that way, especially in front of a team member.
Kevin said, “Are you going to confront me in the hallway right now?”
“No,” I said staring at the floor. He told me we’d talk later and walked away. I went home deflated.
The next morning, Kevin called me into his office. When I arrived, he asked me to sit down. Then he said, “I am going to tell you some things, and you cannot respond.”
I looked at him inquisitively and thought, “I’m in for it; this can’t be good.” He was about to give me feedback. He told me that he wanted me to think about it and then we’d talk again. So, I sat in silence ready to listen.
“Preston, I was relatively easy on you yesterday. Other executives would have torn you to shreds.”
“Really?” I thought to myself.
“You’re not helping me, you’re not being a team player and you don’t listen well. You’ve got to change or you’ll be out of a job.” I held my tongue honoring his request and thanked him for the feedback.
I walked away from the conversation madder than a hornet. I was highly offended. I’d worked very hard, accomplished so much but Kevin always marginalized me. Kevin retaliated by implying my job was in jeopardy. A molehill was made into a mountain, and I resented Kevin for it. As a matter of fact, I resented Kevin and his management style for the two years I worked on his team. My constant feelings of bitterness were taking their toll. What was I going to do?
All leaders experience resentment from time to time. What is resentment? It’s an emotion that wells up inside when you feel like you’ve been mistreated or offended. Hard feelings, frustration or anger, can come from any number of sources including not gaining someone’s respect, not receiving appreciation for a job well done, not being assigned to a special project, being passed over for a promotion, an unspoken apology or rejection. Resentment is the most toxic of all emotions because it can lead to anger, hate, discord, divorce, aggressive driving, alcoholism, depression, anxiety, bankruptcy, and even violence.
If you hold a grudge against someone, the bitterness will fester inside and eventually destroy you. It begins as an emotional trigger and if harbored will become a mood impacting behavior. Resentment is a heavy burden you carry affecting your relationships and health. As the adage goes, “Bitterness is the poison one swallows as he or she hopes the other person dies.”
If resentment is so dangerous, what is the antidote? Forgiveness. If you forgive someone, you stop blaming him or her for the offense. You let go and move on. The Bible says, “Get rid of all bitterness, rage, and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.” (Ephesians 4:31-32 NIV)
How do you forgive someone? Employ the four steps to forgiveness:
- Acknowledge your anger, then drop it and move on – It’s okay to be angry but don’t allow it to last. Let go of the anger when offended or wronged by someone. Don’t harbor it. Anger can lead to hate and violence. Resentment will break you unless you break it first. Put down the poison and move on
- Stand in their shoes – Realize that everyone is perfectly imperfect. The Christian leader remembers God forgave him or her and that same mercy should be shown to others
- Respond with good not revenge – Forgiveness is a decision, not a feeling. Ask God to change your heart and enable you to return the offense with a positive reaction. Practice the Golden Rule – do to others as you’d have them do to you. Remember, love is patient, kind and doesn’t seek its own way
- Pray – Ask God to forgive you and enable you to forgive the one who offended you
Admittedly, I’ve struggled with resentment for years. I often dwell on circumstances and people when I feel disenfranchised, demoralized or undignified. In the above story, I let my manager get the best of me. I should have taken responsibility for my words and actions. I didn’t need to challenge Kevin after he’d made a decision or chase him into the hallway to confront him. I needed to exercise more self-control and give him space. It would have been better if I’d approached him later, apologized and asked how I could help; personal leadership lessons learned that I applied to future situations.
The good news is that I recognized the impact bitterness was having on me and those around me. I discovered that the best antidote to resentment is forgiveness. I let go of my grudge, and my well-being improved tremendously; I no longer felt the weight of bitterness. I found that my mental outlook improved, relationships healed and I felt much better.
How about you? Do you resent someone? Are you holding a grudge? If so, how is it impacting you? What will happen if you continue holding on to the resentment? Are you willing to forgive the individual? Why not forgive that someone today? If you do, your well-being will improve, your relationships will heal, and you’ll be a more successful leader.> Read More
I’m a disciple of Christ and an executive at a Fortune 500 Company. In my blog, The Discipled Leader, I draw on my diverse business experience to help Christians connect their secular and spiritual lives at work.
As a certified coach, speaker, and trainer with the John Maxwell Team, I help others grow their relationship with Christ, develop their leadership skills, and understand how they can make a positive difference in today’s chaotic world.
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