Coffee & Conflict with Lou

In January I introduced you all to [Lou Radja](http://louradja.com/). I am happy to tell you he has quickly taken up the title of mentor & friend. After helping me understand the ins and outs of [Collaboration Over Competition](https://www.advisicon.com/2013/01/23/collaboration-over-competition-identify-your-why/), I felt compelled to share my findings with everyone that would listen including Lou.

As fast as I published my blog post I shot a copy off to Lou. Within a week I received the email below from none other than Lou himself:

> Jambo Danielle!!!!!
>
> Happy New Year and THANK YOU for sharing with me and including me in your blog; I’m truly humbled! Would love to chat with you! Let’s have coffee! You rock.
>
> Be more Give more,
>
> Lou Radja

To say the least, I was elated.

## Coffee with Lou

Fast forward to Starbucks. I walked in with something weighing heavy on me, internal company conflict.

When you work with the A team you have a group of extremely defined personalities. Everyone has their niche. Each person is respected and given room to do what they do best. We win together and we fail together. **Camaraderie**.

In the world of high performers there are always a dozen balls in the air. Each one of those balls has a dollar amount associated with it. Long hours, a fast paced environment, and stress come with the territory.

What happens when you have conflict with a peer on your team? It’s simple: find Lou, buy him a tall hot chocolate, and unload.

## The Conflict with Jack

Let me start off by introducing my not so close friend, Jack.

It is estimated that more than **65% of performance problems** result from **strained relationships** between employees – not from deficits in individual employees’ skill or motivation.

[Workplace Conflict Statistics](http://www.workdyn.com/tools-ConflictStats.html) from Working Dynamics

Jack is the guy that you try to avoid at the water cooler. He is known for being pushy, argumentative, and impossible to rid yourself of. He has managed to stake a claim at every company you have ever worked for or ever will work for. Jack is the guy your significant other refers to as **Jack*****.

_**Disclaimer:** By default everyone you know, including yourself have at one point or another held the misfortunate title of Jack. We are going to discuss an encounter I had with one of the many Jacks of the world at my previous place of employment_.

In the past, I have tried to avoid Jack. I have apologized to Jack. I have definitely considered throwing in the towel and blaming Jack. None of the above made Jack disappear. In fact, **it made going into the office equivalent to walking the plank**.

## Jacks Facts

By the time I was done giving Lou the low down on Jack he was smiling.

He reminded me, “There are 1,000 Jacks. Jack will always be Jack. You can’t change Jack. You can’t avoid Jack. It’s not about Jack. It has never been about Jack. It’s always about you. Jack is frustrated with you. It’s his truth. You have to own that.”

In summary, Lou gave me 27 analogies to illustrate this quote:

Seek first to understand, then to be understood.

[Stephen Covey](https://www.stephencovey.com/7habits/7habits.php)

“Ultimately, when you focus on Jack you lose sight of the goal.”

In hindsight it is as clear as day. Of course it’s not about Jack; it’s about how I choose to respond to Jack.

The faster I make Jack’s needs a priority the faster my needs get met.

## From Jack*** to Jedi

Jack turned out to be my teacher.

Taking the time to give Jack what he needed in turn gave me exactly what I needed. It’s safe to say that I do my best to avoid assuming that Jack and I are on the same page. When I think I have communicated, I do it again.

I validate Jack.

Lou signed off with,

Listen to the whispers and you won’t have to hear the screams.

Cherokee proverb

I pulled my head out of the sand and started paying attention.

I started listening to Jack’s whispers before they evolved into overbearing screams. If what I’m doing doesn’t work, I make adjustments and it minimizes Jack’s response each time.

Forecasting out, Jack and I will be BFF’s in no time – not because Jack has changed but because I embraced Jack.

**I am committed to the outcome** not the process.

Showing 7 comments
  • Jeff Jacobson-Swartfager

    Great post, Danielle! I’ve had my own run-ins with Jack, and it is never fun. The insights that you and Lou have are invaluable!

  • Danielle Johnson

    Thank you for the feedback! :Jack + Danielle = BFFs 😉

  • Pamela Cournoyer

    Danielle, This is a great post! As a consultant, I would have given the same advice – get it that Jack’s will always be in your life and the sooner you learn to understand and eventually work with them, the quicker they either fade away or become your friend. I like your writing style, nicely done!

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