A tested process for clearing work relationship issues in your marketing team

People you work with can get under your skin. And while we all try very hard to respect each other, work relationship issues happen. Often, those issues are unintentional, but they can cause problems nonetheless. In those situations, you have a choice. You can ignore the problem, or you can try to clear it up. When you want to clear it up effectively, we recommend using an issue clear.

The first step in an issue clear is to spend some time thinking through the following things. It’s best to write them out.

The issue clear process – preparation

1) What are the facts of the situation?

Stating the facts are a vital start to an issue clear process. Without the facts, work relationship issues become an argument of what two people believed happened and not what truly took place.

Example: Billy and Joey are playing football in the front yard. Billy throws the ball which hits a tree branch forcing the trajectory to change and hit Joey right in the face. Joey swears Billy did it on purpose, but Billy knows he didn’t mean to (even though he did think it was funny.)

The cold, hard facts of the situation are that Billy threw the ball and Joey took one in the kisser. Everything else is a judgment. This is a critical difference.

2) What is my judgment about the situation?

Speaking of judgment, it’s important to clear this up, too. Clearing this is a matter of talking about the underlying issue from your perspective. Start it off as, “The story I made up in my head about it”. This avoids direct accusation by calling it a story.

Joey might say “The story I made up was that you purposefully threw the football at my face because you don’t like me.”

3) How do I feel about the situation?

This is where you state how you feel emotionally. What did this event cause you to believe or feel? Think in terms of the 5 core emotions, generally agreed to be happy, sad, afraid, disgusted and angry. It’s likely that you’re feeling a mix of at least 2 of these.

Joey might say something like “I felt sad and a little mad when the ball hit me in the face.”

4) What’s my part in the situation?

Targeting your specific role in creating the work relationship issue is an important step toward resolving it. The issue cannot reach a conclusion without some self-reflection. It also allows each person to think about if their belief is accurate or not.

For example, Joey might say “I should have warned you about the branch.”

5) What, specifically, do I want next?

Listing out your wants ensures both parties are on the same page and also will help fine tune future ventures with each other. Joey might say “I want you to be more careful where you throw the ball in the future.”

The issue clear process – conversation

Once you’ve got that prepared, the best course of action is usually to approach the person you’d like to clear things up with. Mention that you’d like to do an issue clear, and ask when a good time would be. 30 minutes is usually a good time frame.

Then, calmly and gently work through the notes you’ve compiled. Plan to leave plenty of time for the other person to react and share their thoughts on the situation.

Once you’ve each worked through your side, take some time to reflect back. Summarize what happened and how everyone felt. Reflect on what the other person said to make sure both they and you understand what was said. Was both the reflection and the opposing persons view point accurate? Did this issue clear process locate the truth and ultimately resolve the conflict? Is the conflict over or are there added comments and concerns?

The issue clear process – resolution

Finally, the resolution. This is a very important and interesting part because in most cases you learn a lot about somebody you have/had an issue with. Learning about somebody is the first step in avoiding conflict in the first place. When the process works well, each person feels a sense of safety and comes to a place of better understanding and relief.