Neutralize others by giving them a lot of credit


March 12, 1995|By DEBORAH JACOBS | DEBORAH JACOBS,Chronicle Features

Robin Murray and a co-worker always seemed to be at loggerheads. Their jobs required them to collaborate on marketing strategies. But Ms. Murray's peer hogged the credit.

Tired of the fights, she asked their boss to intervene. He said: "Solve your own differences."

Ms. Murray decided to try honey instead of vinegar She gave her colleague credit in public for an idea that he could not have gotten off the ground without her help.

Then she resurrected one of her co-worker's old proposals and put it to work through a nationwide program to attract new customers. The campaign was so successful in boosting sales that people in the industry began calling her for advice. Along the way, she had given her colleague credit for the idea, but as the person responsible for implementing the plan, Ms. Murray was the one who gained the most visibility.

Once you stop telling people why they are wrong, you can focus instead on finding common ground, says Kenneth Kaye, a Chicago-based consultant and author of "Workplace Wars and How to End Them" (Amacom Books, 1994). Another key part of resolving conflicts is being willing to change your own behavior -- to say, "I'm interested in your view of how I'm contributing to the problem, because it might give me some ideas about how I can contribute to the solution."

Good peacemakers accept constructive criticism -- and won't knock someone else's ideas without having alternatives to present.

Deborah Jacobs, a business writer specializing in legal topics, regularly contributes to the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Forbes and Newsweek. Write to her c/o Chronicle Features, 870 Market Street, Suite 1011, San Francisco, Calif. 94102. Please include your name, address and telephone number.

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