As a relatively new manager, I learned there are two things people do under stress, fight or flight. Fight essentially implied argumentative and oppositional behavior; standing your ground, refusing to listen, and not backing off. Flight essentially implied running away, retreating without explanation, giving in, or backing off on something important to you. Neither one seemed like a good idea to me.
I have since learned that there are really 4 ‘F’s – and all are needed.
FIGHT: It can mean taking a stand, and making sure that the values and the importance of what you see is heard. It can mean that winning is important.
FLIGHT: This can mean going to the balcony, looking down on the situation from a new perspective, and carefully listening.
What are the other 2 F’s?
FEEDBACK: Making sure that you are really understood, seeing if somehow you gave the wrong impression of what matters, and understanding that you may need to change something about your approach.
FRIENDING: Ask someone if there is another way to look at the problem, and if there is some expertise you can get.
Here is an example from a famous book, “Getting to Yes”:
A husband and a wife have one orange. Both want it, and the fight starts. In the end they decide to cut it in half. Makes sense right? Let’s look a little more closely.
If they had listened to each other, they would have learned that the wife wanted the zest of the orange for baking. She got her half and used the zest but threw out the juice from her half. The husband who wanted the juice to drink; he threw out the rind and drank his juice-no zest from that half. Each got only half of what they wanted.
Sharing one orange to them seemed extraordinary. But in the end, they both lost out.
If we want extraordinary outcomes, we will not get them acting the same way we always have. We need all 4 Fs. Here is your homework.
Pick a challenge that you have and look at all 4:
FIGHT: What really is important to you? What value or moral issue is critical to you?
FLIGHT: What do you see in the other persons’ view? What seems to be important to them?
FEEDBACK: Who can you ask about how you sound? Can you ask that person to state the challenge or rephrase what you said, in the way you said it?
FRIEND: What can give you another perspective? Who might be able to offer you another option or resource?
What do you have to lose?