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LEAF method: solving problems within seconds

Different characters meet at work. If there are conflicts, the LEAF method is a simple and effective way to get them under control quickly. Because if you fail to solve your problems, they will secretly smolder on. Then at some point at the most inopportune moment there is an “explosion” and something originally small turns into a big thing. How the LEAF method works ...

➠ Content: This is what awaits you

➠ Content: This is what awaits you

What is the LEAF method?

The LEAF method is a conflict resolution method. The English acronym LEAF stands for the following points:

  • L.isten = to listen
  • E.mpathise = put yourself in someone's shoes
  • A.pologise = apologize
  • F.ix = repair, so solve the problem

This short formula is easy to remember and, if you practice it several times, implement it within a very short time. According to studies by the American consultancy Pollack Peacebuilding Systems (PPS), employees are blocked from their work for almost three hours a week due to conflicts with their colleagues.

Time in which people argue, brood or cry, but not work. That corresponds to damage of 359 billion dollars or 319 billion euros. Apart from the fact that these numbers alone make you dizzy, it would often be good for your own soul to master an efficient technique for conflict resolution.

How does the LEAF method work?

What sounds so simple is a problem for many people. Often it is poor social skills that mean that people do not solve problems adequately. It is therefore worth taking a closer look at the LEAF method:

Listen to

Listening is actually a matter of course, but sometimes with arguments between adults it is like in kindergarten, motto: If you are louder, you are right. And so they just keep talking and the other person hardly gets a serious chance to present their position. Or, the other is apparently given the opportunity to describe his point of view, but straddles every single point in between. On the one hand, this is a typical defense impulse. On the other hand, it is just very rude not to let the other person finish and deprives you of the opportunity to find out what the other person really wants to say to you. If, in this case, there are actually ambiguities or questions about understanding, you can of course ask.

Feel yourself into the other

It is of course far easier to characterize the other from the outset as the identified culprit. But often one does not do justice to the other person. It is completely normal that colleagues do not always agree with one another. The important thing is that you try to understand your colleague. First of all, believe in the good in people. This has little to do with naivety, but only with a positive, empathic approach.

You treat others with goodwill, because conversely you would want that for yourself too, right? On top of that, you should be wondering if the cause of the argument is really worth all the trouble? It happens that people use something other than "lightning rods", as a valve. You are currently under a lot of stress at work or in your private life and should really let off steam - but sport is not an option at the moment, so there is a row with the colleague.

Excuse yourself

Anyone who has already completed the first two steps of the LEAF method and comes to the conclusion that they may have been upset about an absolute triviality (and the real trouble is waiting at home in the form of an annoying neighbor) should complete this step fairly quickly can: Apologize to your colleague. You kill two birds with one stone because, firstly, you enable the dispute to be settled, and secondly, you show greatness by being capable of self-criticism. The prerequisite for this is, of course, that you mean business and not just say something. Apologize for making a mistake and making yourself hurt.

Solve the problem

The last point of the LEAF method shows that you take responsibility for your actions. You agree to make up for your mistake and help solve the problem. You are changing your behavior so that this will not happen in the future (if the trigger can be prevented). If you are unsure how to react or what the other person is expecting, ask.

Does the LEAF method always work?

There is a small downer, Jeremy Pollack admits that too. The anthropologist and founder of PPS admits that the LEAF method has its limits. Because it is only suitable for acute disputes that are based on a misunderstanding that can be easily resolved. Conflicts that have been simmering for a long time and that are based on the personality or the respective communication style cannot be resolved with it. At least another time frame has to be set for this.

The LEAF method also requires the parties to the conflict to be fundamentally willing to settle the dispute. It is therefore not suitable for real hardship cases such as bullying. If the fronts are hardened, it makes sense anyway to bring in a neutral, third party. In such cases, conflict resolution with the help of mediation is more appropriate.

Profit from the LEAF method

Disputes and disagreements are completely normal. In teams in particular, disharmony can be fruitful in a certain way. The decisive factor is always the extent and whether those involved find their way back to normal. Personal vanities and righteousness often make it difficult to deal with other people. If one of the interlocutors finds it difficult to express himself precisely and the other puts everything on the gold scales, at some point it is no longer about the real thing. The advantages of the LEAF method:

  • Concise
    The easy handling of the LEAF method helps you to concentrate on the essentials again. Because if an argument is boiling up, emotions often cloud the mind. Good if you can then fall back on such a guide.
  • Practically
    The LEAF method is just as suitable for use in private life. They help to de-escalate situations that may not be as clearly assessable and controllable as at work.
  • Versatile
    And you have mastered an important social skill that will help you advance. Being able to empathize with others, being able to resolve misunderstandings and communication problems is, for example, very advantageous in international teams. Even those who work abroad contribute their part to intercultural competence.
  • Efficient
    Thanks to disputes that are quickly resolved, you have your head free for the really important things. This has a positive effect on your work performance.
  • Nerve-friendly
    With the LEAF method you increase your quality of life. Smoldering disputes often manifest themselves in physical ailments such as tension and headaches - which you can now avoid.

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