Mediator Tips: Resolve Conflict at Work

The latest “Mediator Tips” will be offered in person at our workshop on April 4, 2019. The title is - simply - Resolve Conflict at Work. Register here (tickets are just $20 each).

It’s a small, intensive workshop limited to just 12 participants. The participants should be managers, especially:

  • someone new to managing a team,

  • someone who wants to better understand how to manage a team for minimal conflicts and optimal engagement,

  • or someone who’s been managing people for a while but is dealing with a lot of different personalities - or conflicts!

angy-man-yells-into-phone

The workshop will cover how to build trust on your team in order to better manage conflict. We’ll also go over:

  • the impact of culture on conflict;

  • how to build trust on your team;

  • active listening skills;

  • identifying reactions to conflict (and what to do with that info);

  • resources to build your own ability to identify different emotional reactions;

  • and, when it’s best to...

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What's my EQ?

….Um, I have no idea!

But I can tell you about emotional intelligence, and recommend a few starting places if you want to learn to use emotions wisely with all your relationships.

First, a word about sources

There are SO many! What I’ve learned has come from a great edX.org course called “Empathy and Emotional Intelligence at Work.” UC Berkeley professors Dacher Keltner and Emiliana Simon-Thomas provide an overview of empathy, compassion, and emotional intelligence, drawing from pioneers in the field like Daniel Goleman, who so many have heard of, as well as Peter Salovey and John Mayer and others. If this is a topic you’re interested in, there are PLENTY of opportunities to learn from masters. Seriously. An an example - look up Daniel Goleman on LinkedIn!

By the way, emotional intelligence and EQ are technically different things, like, to a researcher - but it’s easier to use them interchangeably, as I will here. EQ is simply the measure of...

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The Dreaded Icebreaker

I’m currently designing several trainings centered on emotional intelligence, empathy, and managing people. My biggest challenge is that most trainings are time-constrained - for instance, I just finished an outline for a 90-minute training to cover emotional intelligence, empathy, and active listening in the workplace.

90 minutes! with 4 activities!

That does not leave a lot of time for people to interact with each other, or with me as the instructor. Yet no one wants an instructor who robotically drones on, trying to fill as many facts and ideas as possible into a specific time, expecting you to either take notes at her pace or just remember everything she says - and only says once.

Trainings are meetings

The thing is, trainings are meetings. You bring a group of people into a room, and you expect them to leave either having learned something or made a decision about something. Everyone’s time is limited, especially today with so many distractions vying for our...

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Personalities at Work

MBTI, Emergenetics, DISC, the Caliper Profile, OCEAN or HEXACO, the SHL Occupational Personality Questionnaire…

Say whaaaaa?

Personality Assessments

I’ve always been fascinated by personality quizzes. To me, it makes perfect sense that personality assessments are a big business for workplaces. Certain modes of behavior are easier for some people than others, and that will align with certain jobs.

More importantly, when a team member understands how other team members tend to think and which behaviors might be their fallbacks, it can help a great deal. Teams who understand each others’ personalities tend to be more cohesive, collaborative, and effective.

I got started thinking about this again recently when I had the chance to take an Emergenetics assessment and participate in a workshop sponsored by MAFN that helped me better understand how Emergenetics views and talks about personality. Like the older Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI), Emergenetics provides a...

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The Power of Civility

People across the United States believe there is too much incivility in our culture. This has been true for several years, predating the 2016 election, believe it or not. The PR firm Weber Shandwick has been surveying Americans about civility annually since 2010. Over the years, they have consistently found that more than 60% of Americans surveyed believe that a lack of civility in society is a major problem.

In the executive summary for the 2011 report, they state,

Civility, and the lack of it, in America begs greater understanding of how Americans’ lives are impacted and how Americans can take more responsibility for their communications and interactions online and offline.

Civility @ Work - A Ray of Hope

Civility in the workplace, the focus of their 2018 survey, was found to be a “ray of hope:” A similar proportion of people who consider incivility to be a problem also report that their workplaces tend to be more civil than uncivil. In fact, Weber Shandwick...

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Emotional Employee Got You Stressed?

This morning, I went to a local chapter of SHRM - that’s the Society for Human Resource Management. I had the opportunity to brainstorm how to handle it when an employee responds “very emotionally” during performance reviews, with “very emotionally” explained as “anger, tears, shouting, etc.”

My small group had experience in all aspects of human resource management, so we pooled our best advice; here it is!

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“Anger, tears, shouting…”

Definitely a stressful situation! An employee reacts very emotionally when given performance feedback. What to do?

Give Performance Feedback Often

Assuming the performance feedback was given during a formal evaluation, the first thing to understand is that nothing in a formal evaluation should be a surprise. Ideally, we all work with supervisors who let us know how we’re doing frequently, and talk to us as soon as problems arise.

Typically, managers...

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Research on Familiarity with Mediation and Facilitation

Do you work in a business with fewer than 250 employees in Northern Virginia? I invite you to take my current survey, Research on Familiarity with Mediation and Facilitation.

I’ve found that people who work in the legal system are usually familiar with mediation, but most people are not certain what it is. Or, they think it’s something that can be used to resolve amicable divorces, and not much else. However mediation can be used to resolve many workplace issues, and for a lower cost than alternative solutions like hiring a business coach, firing an employee, or ignoring the conflict.

Facilitation presents a somewhat different problem: People who know what it is, but haven’t experienced really great facilitation or are extra budget-conscious, believe it’s not truly necessary for their own meetings or planning processes. The word facilitation simply means the process of making something easier. Meeting facilitation has many forms. Most professional...

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Happiness and Conflict at Work

Often when we are faced with a conflict, happiness is not what we feel. We may feel angry, frustrated, sad, disappointed, upset, furious, or other negative emotions, or some combination of many negative emotions. Perhaps the “best” emotion we experience in the midst of an argument is something along the lines of,

“Hah! I’m winning!”

…Well, that’s a kind of satisfaction, but it is probably not the same happy, contented feeling you get when you are laughing with loved ones, for example, or even while collaborating in a positive, team atmosphere at work, school, or while volunteering.

Yet conflict and happiness are not necessarily polar opposites.

Scientists have spent decades studying what happiness is, the effects of happiness and pro-social emotions and actions, and how we can have happier lives. According to researchers Emiliana Simon-Thomas and Dacher Keltner, what happiness looks like at work will include moments of laughter and joy,...

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Mediator Tips: Active Listening

Listening is a magnetic and strange thing, a creative force. The friends who listen to us are the ones we move toward, and we want to sit in their radius. When we are listened to, it creates us, makes us unfold and expand.

Psychiatrist Karl Menninger, 1893-1990

Recently, I’ve spoken to several small business owners, salespeople, and fellow mediators and professional facilitators about how the skills used in mediation translate to so many other arenas of life. The most important one, I think, is listening well. Great listening skills can help pretty much all the time: at work, in friendships, while parenting kids of any age, and when talking to neighbors, clients, friends, loved ones… pretty much anyone.

We all have a basic need to be listened to, to be understood. Listening to understand helps you comprehend, sympathize, and identify with the other person. In conflicts, and often throughout life, only when a person feels that their story (or point of view) has been ...

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Mediation: Voluntary Really Means Voluntary

Mediation is a voluntary process for parties and mediators. Yes, you read that right. Mediators have an ethical responsibility to ensure all parties feel equally able to negotiate, and the parties do so in good faith. If a mediator has any doubt, they ought to end the mediation.

You may be thinking “But I’m paying you!” Yes, you are. You’re paying for the services of a mediation session (or sessions). As a trained professional mediator, my expertise includes paying attention to the parties and their ability to represent themselves in the process and negotiate on equal (or near-equal) footing. My expertise also includes making ethical determinations about whether the parties are operating in good faith.

The flip side of this is that any time a party feels uncomfortable, they have the right to end the mediation as well. Of course, feeling uncomfortable can happen for a great variety of reasons, and mediators will try to feel you out – usually one-on-one...

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