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One of the truths about being in product management is that conflicts arise.  Across the many stakeholders within the organization and the many personalities, simultaneous projects, and sometimes conflicting priorities it is bound to happen.  For example, maybe it is …

  • Disagreement with Development/Engineering on the approach to solving a problem
  • Situations with Sales in dealing with prospective customers and not overselling the roadmap
  • Misalignment with Marketing when plans simply aren’t aligning
  • Frustrations with Finance when numbers simply don’t make sense or are misconstrued

There are countless examples that I am sure we could all recite from the past month, couple of weeks, week, or maybe even the past day! But when it comes to these types of conflicts, a couple of principles come to mind that I have found helpful … hopefully you find them useful as well.

  1. People act in a way that makes sense to them. 

Notice I didn’t say in a way that makes sense to us … but to them. And while it may feel like a personal affront at the time, more likely than not it is something else entirely. Perhaps it is something from their upbringing, or cultural differences, or having been burned in previous similar situations, or stress, or they simply just have a jaded outlook on things. Whatever the case (and you may never know what it truly is), take a moment to try and see things from their point of view.

2. Focus on reconciliation rather than resolution.

When conflict arises focus on reconciliation, not resolution. There’s a big difference in those two words. Reconciliation means re-establishing the relationship. Resolution means resolving every issue.

Like it or not, there is a correlation between the nature of the relationships with our key stakeholders, and our success in the product manager role.  Like any meaningful relationship, sometimes things get contentious … but much like iron sharpening iron, though sparks may fly during the process, if approached in the right manner the end result can yield something positive.