It took us 3 hours to get there. That isn’t counting the time to pack, plan, to get into our rooms and set up our booth. Never-the-less we were all set up and ready to go, finally. Our hard work and preparation were about to pay off. We turned on our music and prepared to meet and greet all the attendees that might stop by our table during the 2-day conference. Stomp…Stomp…Stomp, Humph. This is what we heard as she stalked to our table and greeted us with a noisy complaint, “Your music hurts my heart,” she accused. She greeted us as if we had set up our booth and turned on our music solely to annoy and agitate her. What? We were just trying to create a fun atmosphere that would drive conference goers to our table. How. Dare. She. We wanted to give her a piece of our mind. We wanted to call it like we saw it. We wanted to respond in kind and complain about her booth, her space, her noise. Instead, we responded by respectfully turning our music down.
It wasn’t too long after that, still a bit put off, that we realized we had leftover donut holes that we could share with other booth exhibitors. As we made the rounds with the delicious treats we came to her booth and realized that while we could easily pass her by, maybe these sweet confections would do the trick of thawing the ice between us. Hey, it was worth a shot.
So, despite not wanting to share our donuts holes, share we did. We took our walls down and opened up space for communication. This allowed us to move toward some good conversations. What would have happened if we kept our donut holes to ourselves or only shared with those who had treated us well? You see, as servant leaders we cannot pick and choose when to lead through conflict as when not to. Consistency is a marker of integrity and we must utilize the best conflict resolution strategies, even when we don’t want to share our donut holes with the harsh nest-door neighbor.
It is quiet amazing what a simple offering of donut holes can do.