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Always a good read with practical takeaways. Also, you are invited to listen to interesting radio show interviews or read published articles on various topics of interest.

Business Lessons From an Avocado. Seriously!

Business Lessons From an Avocado. Seriously!

California has been in its worst drought ever, with far-reaching implications, including the inability for many farmers to sustain profitable businesses.

Growing avocados requires a lot of water, as compared to most fruits and vegetables; 74.1 gallons of irrigated water to grow a pound of fruit (Source: Mekonnen and Hoekstra, 2010).

For over a hundred years, avocado farmers have been following certain best practices. So when faced with water restrictions and increased costs for the water they needed to grow their crops, some farmers went out of business, while others began to think and act differently.

Historically, avocado trees have been planted 20 feet apart from each other and allowed to grow big and tall. However, NPR News recently reported that Gary Bender, a University of California avocado specialist and farm advisor in San Diego County, experimented with planting trees at just 10 feet apart, pruning the trees regularly, keeping the trees short and fat. What resulted from following these new techniques was that they actually produced twice the yield of fruit with less water!

Ok, I enjoy a good avocado, but what I really love is business and the lessons we learn!

Does complacency limit our thinking and results? Are we operating from assumptions that may not have been tested?

Faced with challenges, perhaps we think most creatively and take more risks? I’ve always been a believer in having good systems and processes, along with best practices. However, left unchallenged, how do we know there isn’t a better way?

Let’s not wait for a drought or other external crisis to challenge our thinking.

Go enjoy an avocado and consider how this lesson may apply to you and your business.

People are HIRED for their skills yet FIRED for not being liked.

People are HIRED for their skills yet FIRED for not being liked.

Time and again we hear about very talented, capable people who don’t seem to get along with others.

Whether in a small business or large corporation, it’s not enough to just be great at what you do, but also HOW you do it. Specifically, you need to be likeable.

I’m not suggesting that everyone has to love you or invite you over for dinner. However, fostering healthy relationships with your executive team, peers, subordinates, vendors and clients alike will serve you well beyond any technical skills and talents you may have.

You may be a rock star contributor to a company, but if you can’t get along with people, your job may not be as secure as you think.

This can especially be a problem for technical leaders. Being great with their technical abilities does not necessarily translate to being great leaders or mean that they necessarily know how to get along with others.

So, just how likable are you? Answering the following questions may help you to get a better idea:

  1. Do you listen to understand?
  2. Are you confident, yet not arrogant?
  3. Are you receptive to constructive feedback or are you defensive?
  4. Do you try to take credit for everything or share credit with others?
  5. Do you take on responsibility or pass the blame on to others?
  6. Do you take into account that each person has their own unique communication style and that it’s not a one size fits all when communicating with people?

Just remember that your skills may have landed your job but how well you get along with others may determine whether you keep it!

Breakthrough to Conflict Resolution

Are you facing workplace challenges? How are you and your team dealing with conflict and change? Perhaps you may benefit from learning valuable insights and strategies for adapting and communicating more effectively with others during times of conflict or change.

Under most and certainly difficult circumstances, I believe that Conflict Resolution skills are necessary to thrive. No matter the industry, business type or size, it is inevitable that we will face change and challenges. Having healthy conflict management skills will serve you and your team well.

What is important to know about conflict?

It’s important to understand that we each have our own natural conflict handling approach. Conflict resolution intersects with communication. By understanding our own communication style and that of others, we can create a constructive foundation from which effective conflict resolution can exist.

What does it mean to understand our own communication styles and just how do we go about doing that?

Human behavior has been studied for thousands of years BC. In 1924, William Marston, developer of the lie detector, studied the concepts of will and a person’s sense of power and their effect on personality and human behavior. The DISC model evolved from Marston’s search for measurements of the energy of behavior and consciousness.

Later, others developed DISC assessments from his model.

There are a variety of available instruments, including DISC to help us to identify and understand our communication styles. We can leverage our understanding of our own and other people’s styles to constructively resolve conflict.

How do we figure out what our styles are? And what about other people’s styles?

The most reliable and effective way is through completing a communication tool assessment, such as the DISC, accompanied with interpretation from an experienced DISC Consultant. For situations where you’d like to determine other people’s styles, yet an assessment is not an option, you can perform an informal self-assessment by learning more about each of the styles and how to identify them. Through purposeful observation, we can often learn more about people’s natural preferred style.

What else could we be aware of or do to successfully manage conflict?

There are certain behaviors that we can choose that will help us to successfully manage conflict.

It may be helpful to know that there are various responses to conflict, including:

  • Avoidance
  • Accommodation
  • Collaboration
  • Compromise
  • Competition

Start with moving towards the conflict. Resist recoiling and deal with it directly.

“Conflict avoidance is not constructive. A peaceful, harmonious workplace can be the worst thing for businesses. Research shows that the biggest predictor of poor performance is complacency.” (Harvard Business Review – How to Pick A Good Fight, 2009, by Saj-Nicole A. Joni and Damon Beyer).

In Patrick Lencioni’s 5 Dysfunctions of a Team, he discusses the importance of healthy conflict. Lencioni suggests that holding back to avoid conflict is a behavior that can lead to dysfunctional teams.

Managed constructively, conflict can actually lead to successful outcomes.

There are certain things you can do to help successfully address conflict, including:

Consider the importance of the relationship, your role in the conflict, your contribution, as well as the desired outcome.

Take your Temperature. Are you emotionally charged and angry? Will you be able to think before you speak or do you need time to cool down first?

Approach the person positively to gain their interest in resolving the conflict.

Seek Permission and agreement to resolve the issue. Ask the other person for permission to resolve it (e.g. Can we discuss this, as I’d like to get your input and clear the air/resolve this).

Listen to identify, understand and acknowledge their concerns, as well as verify assumptions. Ask what it is they need and listen objectively with the intent to acknowledge the other person. Listen to understand, empathize and help. Making sure they feel heard is showing them a form of respect and doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to agree with them.

Personally, I advise caution when using reflective listening, to ensure that it’s genuine and is made using your “own voice.” Rather than saying “what I’m hearing you say is…”, I suggest a variation that fits more naturally in the context of the discussion (e.g. I think I get what you are saying, can I speak for you for a moment to check this out? Or “can I paraphrase for you for a moment?)

Own it and Apologize – if you realize that you’ve made a mistake, own it and apologize. Acknowledge it and discuss the win-win outcomes.

Focus on Interests, not positions to negotiate and manage agreements- Negotiate a win-win outcome. When discussing the different ideas, be clear and specific, pointing out the benefits of each. If an agreement is reached, restate and agree on action steps.

Overcome obstacles – If reaching an agreement is difficult, ask the person to share what it is they would like. Try to understand the underlying WHY they want it. Also, ask what they consider obstacles that would prevent it from working.

Follow through – Both successful resolution and your credibility are at stake when an agreement is reached, yet you don’t take the agreed upon action.

If you are interested in hearing more on Breaking Through to Conflict Resolution, you can listen to my interview on the Cheri Hill Radio Show.



Allison S. Tabor, CPC

Executive Coach, Consultant & Facilitator