Last week’s Tip compared Perspectives and Positions, and we noted that when people have a perspective on a given topic or issue, that’s often useful. However, when people are more focused on their position, things can get testy.
One topic we didn’t fully address last week was the definition of Position. Using a military analogy to define position, think about old war movies where soldiers dig a trench. They’re taking up a position. They hunker down in the trench, raise up to shoot at the opposition, and then they duck back into the trench. Trenches don’t move. The battle can take a long time, and they typically don’t advance until the opposition dies or they retreat. They’re stuck.
Here are some other, more business-oriented examples of taking a position:
Mine is More Important: I facilitated a community group that was addressing how to best use funds from a national settlement. Funds were to be used to address a community health issue. There were over 20 members of the group, and – initially – each of them thought that their cause or solution deserved the majority of the funding. There were 20 different positions.
Date Conflict: One employee said their draft report would be ready on Thursday. The other employee told their teammate that it needed to be done on Wednesday.
The Full Refund: An event attendee wanted a full refund for the costs of their tickets to the sporting event that had a long weather delay. The policy stated that there were no full refunds.
These are three very different examples, but they have one commonality – they all start with people taking a position.
Even though the starting point might be the position, just like in the military analogy, if we maintain those positions, the battle will go on for a long time. People might fire shots at the other until one person, one position gets beaten down, or the other retreats.
Remember these examples to recognize quickly when someone is taking a position, so you can redirect and – instead – identify common goals. This could save yourself and the other person from unnecessary arguments, negative emotions, and wasted time.
Recognize when you (or they) are in a position.