Can't We All Just Get Along? How To Resolve Conflict With Colleagues

The main reason I love Dragons’ Den is because Canadian entrepreneurs offer us tangible business lessons week after week. After each episode this season, I have written about a lesson learned–for better or for worse–from an entrepreneur who pitched the Dragons.

As for the Dragons, though they often see eye-to-eye, sometimes they just don’t. Kevin O’Leary definitely has a Gordon-Gekko-Greed-is-Good schtick, and Arlene Dickinson is widely regarded as “the nice Dragon” (although, I don’t think it’s a schtick). These two often agree to disagree.

But not this week. The Martins, a married couple from B.C., pitched a product that drove a serious wedge between Kevin and Arlene. Although all five Dragons agreed that My Ventex, a toilet fan system that removes bacteria and odour, is a good product, they disagreed about how to move forward. Kevin only cared that the company wasn’t making money. Arlene, having personally pulled herself out of poverty, wanted to see these entrepreneurs continue to follow their dream. When Kevin berated Arlene, she got mad and walked off the set. Kevin stated that he’s, “Tired of Arlene telling people they can do it.”

Bruce Croxon said, “You guys are fighting like an old married couple.”

So, this week’s lesson comes not from the pitchers on Dragons’ Den, but from the Dragons themselves. Even if you don’t agree with your colleagues, you need to respect them. The alternative is just too nasty.

When people ask Danielle and me how our partnership at Admiral Road has survived 10+ years, we can distil it down to something very simple. In our partnership, we have a perfect track record of never going to bed angry. (I wish I could say the same thing about my marriage!) If we have a disagreement, we still have to deal with each other the next day (and the next and the next). So, if something has built up, it needs to be sorted out. If that means late night phone calls (or a teary conversation in the produce section of Loblaws), then so be it. It sure beats living with a tension that just gnaws away at you.

Have you had a fight with a work colleague? How did you resolve it?

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