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How to maintain friendships and handle conflict at work

Navigating friendship as a business owner with Danielle Bayard Jackson

💡Research suggests that the number one thing that makes a person more inclined to listen to you during an argument is if they feel that you’re listening to them.

As a business owner, how do you navigate friendships and handle conflicts at work? How can meaningful relationships impact your business success? 

Friendship educator Danielle Bayard Jackson joins us to talk about relationships and why they’re so important for your business and beyond. Danielle is an educator, publicist, and author of the book Fighting For Our Friendships: The Science and Art of Conflict and Connection in Women’s Relationships.

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Transcript

From PR to friendship educator

Danielle started her career as a high school teacher and realized that the number one thing that both students and staff wanted to talk about was friendship dynamics. After she left the classroom, she went into public relations and started interacting with high-achieving women. 

She learned that while they looked like a boss babe on the outside, they were struggling with their friendships behind closed doors. Danielle is now a full-time friendship educator who speaks on the science of women’s stories. 

Key reasons people struggle with friendships

  1. Fear of rejection
  2. The desire to find people who ‘get you’
  3. The desire to express platonic love without coming off as clingy

How to handle conflict as a business owner

Did you know that 65% of businesses fail due to co-founder conflict? Conflict is inevitable, so it’s important to develop your conflict resolution skills. 

When you get into business with a friend, you should make an agreement early on that the friendship is more important than the business. When conflicts arise later on, you can remind each other to prioritize the friendship, which can help buffer the tension. 

Next, always communicate with your co-founder. The more you know someone, the easier it is to make assumptions about their behavior or what they think. However, instead of making assumptions, you need to communicate and extend grace towards them.

The conflict resolution skills you need to build

Research suggests that the number one thing that makes a person more inclined to listen to you during an argument is if they feel that you’re attempting to listen to them. Even if you don’t agree with the person you’re experiencing conflict with, you can show them that you’re listening to them. When they’re convinced that you hear them, they will hear you. 

Here are some phrases to show you’re listening:

  • “I hear you saying this [insert the argument you think they’re making], is that correct?”
  • “That’s a good point, I never thought of it that way.”

Next, it’s important to show vulnerability in conflict. That could look like admitting when you’re wrong or need help. Showing your vulnerabilities will allow the other person to soften to you.

Finally, during the conflict, stick to talking about tangible things. Instead of addressing someone’s attitude, which is elusive, address things that are more specific. For example, instead of saying something like, “You feel distant,” say, “Hey, I know we were communicating pretty regularly every day, but since our tense conversation, we haven’t spoken. Help me understand what’s going on.” 

At the end of your conversation, you and your friend should figure out how you can move forward together instead of going around and around in circles. 

The importance of having relational diversity

According to research, people who have relational diversity have better overall well-being. Relationship diversity simply means having different types of relationships in your life, such as mom friends, church friends, gym friends, business friends, and so on.

Complete this statement: I am _____

For example, for Danielle, the answer is, “I am Black, I am a mom, I am a creative.”

Once you write out your different identities, look at the list and ask yourself if you have friendships that affirm each of those identities. It’s important to have friendships for each identity because otherwise, your identity can get out of balance. For example, when you only have work friends, your work will take over your identity.

How to connect with people who are different from you

Having friends who are different from you can enrich your life; however, you don’t have to make radically different friends to experience the benefits. Start by looking for small differences. You could pursue a hobby that you’ve always wanted to try and meet people in that space who are different from your other friends. 

As you move through the world and go throughout your day, stay open to talking to people. You never know where you could make a friend, or you could simply have a short and sweet conversation with a stranger. Prioritize connection over friendship and try to have at least one social interaction per day. 

More is not merrier

Danielle’s hot take on friendship is that more is not merrier. In The Art of Gathering, author Priya Parker advises people to have a clear objective for bringing people together. Some objectives, such as the desire for intimate conversation, call for smaller groups of people. 

The biggest differentiator between the businesses that succeed and the ones that fail

Danielle believes that the biggest differentiator between the businesses that succeed and the ones that fail is losing focus. Don’t forget why you got into this in the first place, and don’t let distractions steal your focus. 

Important sections of the conversation

  • [1:33] From PR to friendship educator
  • [4:12] Key reasons people struggle with friendships
  • [8:22] How to handle conflict as a business owner
  • [13:03] The conflict resolution skills you need to build
  • [17:06] The importance of having relational diversity
  • [28:38] How to connect with people who are different from you
  • [32: 41] More is not merrier
  • [40:12] The biggest differentiator between the businesses that succeed and the ones that fail

Resources mentioned

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