Few entrepreneurs enjoy uncomfortable conversations with employees, but if you want your company to run smoothly, you are going to have to go there.
That's according to bestselling author and researcher Brene Brown, the author of The Power of Vulnerability. Brown, whose TED talks have been watched by more than 20 million viewers and who has worked with companies including Facebook, Microsoft and Pixar, spends the vast majority of her time helping companies helping companies understand the importance of vulnerability and authenticity in leadership.
One of her most important findings is that when workplace conflicts arise, people will often invent a story in their mind that explains the cause of the conflict, as doing this rewards you with serotonin.
"Our brains just need to know that there is a story to explain that," Brown says. "The scary thing about story that makes it dangerous is that we don't get rewarded by the brain if the story is accurate--we just get rewarded for a story."
Because most of the stories workers will invent to explain workplace conflicts aren't accurate, this often leads to further rifts and larger arguments.
The best thing to do when you're arguing is to not focus on winning, but instead to listen to the other person's story and address what he or she thinks is the source of the original conflict.
By talking with your employees instead of avoiding the conflict, you can prevent false assumptions from snowballing into larger issues, Brown says.
While some entrepreneurs may be inclined to view this type of conflict as a sign of dysfunction, Brown argues that the company cultures that work the best are those that normalize discomfort.
"If we put comfort over doing good work, we will not be able to accomplish what we want to," she says.