Conflict Management Pattern: Levelheaded

The term “levelheaded” is often used to describe someone who is calm, balanced, not overly reactive, and able to stay reasonable and rationale during times of stress or conflict. When people are in deadlocked argument, being “levelheaded” can break the impasse. This is a person whose presence can diffuse anxiety and set the tone to produce win-win solutions.

Five “levelheaded” behaviors

Being leveled doesn’t happen by chance. It requires intentionality to choose behaviors that even in the most challenging of situations foster a positive work culture. Below are five behaviors of what being levelheaded looks as a leader:

1. Embrace a mindset of humility – You set your ego aside and are open to learn from others. You aren’t worried about who gets credit or take things personally. You are focused on doing what’s best for your employees and company.

2. Convey a tone of friendliness and warmth – Sincerity, integrity, and honesty are what drive your behavior. Your bodily language, words, and feelings are consistent and you have a genuine interest in others.

3. Speak directly – You are clear and direct in what you are asking or taking a stand for. You are willing to ask questions or raise issues that may cause conflict when it’s necessary for team success. Issues are addressed directly with those involved or affected. You stop gossip.

4. Blameless conflict management – You focus on solutions instead of who’s to blame. You emphasize learning and getting smarter from every mistake.

5. Apologize – When you realize you did something you didn’t intend, you take ownership, apologize, make it right, and move on. You consider being willing to admit when wrong the foundation of trusting relationships and your leadership.

A Levelheaded Leader

Several years ago while working in the healthcare field, my boss and I were leaving a client appointment. As we entered the parking lot where his brand new car was parked, we observed a car driving so closely into the parking space next to his car that it scraped the shiny paint off of his car. We heard the sound of metal against metal and watched as the driver seemed oblivious, not realizing what was happening. My boss remained calm, didn’t say a word. I looked at him, stunned at his lack of overreaction and said “Your car was just hit”. He calmly said, “Yes, I saw.” He then spoke to the person who hit his car who was extremely apologetic. My boss maintained a non-anxious presence and accepted the driver’s apology. We got in his car and drove back to the office.

Still stunned by his calm, I commented on how he handled the situation. He said “I knew it was an accident, it’s only a car, and the damage can be fixed.” His response wasn’t always that levelheaded.

By his own admission, my then boss had intentionally learned how to respond in a levelheaded manner. In his upbringing, his father was an alcoholic. Throughout his formative years, he had experienced much family chaos and observed volatile arguments between his parents. He made the decision to not drink alcohol as an adult due to what he had witnessed in his father’s behavior. Avoiding alcohol however, didn’t mean he didn’t have an emotional imprint from what he had experienced. His conflict pattern was to react in anger when things didn’t go his way. It took punching his fist into a wall and damaging his wrist to realize he needed to work through his anger. The personal work he did to gain self-awareness and address painful emotions led to his levelheaded response years later in the client parking lot.

What’s next for you?

As this blog series is wrapped up, maybe it’s time for you to consider your conflict pattern. Maybe it’s time for you to consider how you can be more “levelheaded” when differences arise or the unexpected happens, and say “I’m not going to rush into my usual way of reacting and instead be more conscious of my response.”

Make the Conscious Choice to be a leader
who manages conflict with a levelhead

Next Steps:

To learn more about understanding your conflict management pattern and improve your leadership effectiveness, just send an email. You and your employees will be glad you did.