Even in the most close-knit teams, conflict happens. And in an ongoing pandemic, at a time when lots of people may be moving to new jobs and positions? New people joining a team that's been stressed? It can be hard to just get through the day - let alone know what to do when a dispute pops up!
Leaders - whether you're formally a supervisor, division head, executive, or just someone people look to for guidance - set the tone of the group. Some of us do it well and easily! And even those of us who make it look SO easy can still fall flat on our faces when faced with a conflict.
That's part of why I became a mediator: I wanted to learn how to handle conflict (and help others). Yes, I've learned some tips I use personally - though you should NEVER mediate something important to you, because you can't be impartial.
So let's dive into some tips for leaders needing to handle a conflict on their team:
Workplace cultures that are generally supportive and collaborative usually have fewer conflicts - because they approach disagreements as opportunities to innovate, converse, connect, and build something new.
Usually that's easier said than done, but an essential element is to build trust on your team.
Building trust within your team, no matter the larger culture in which you work, goes a long way toward preventing conflicts on the team.
If you're new to managing this team, it can be relatively easy to build trust:
get to know your team members;
find excuses to share fun, light-hearted moments with them;
say a heartfelt “thank you” for specific actions whenever you can;
and, follow through on whatever plans or promises you may make to them.
If you can’t follow through, or if you’re finding that on stressful days you are a bit less nice than you would want to be - just be authentic. Let the team know that you’re having a tough...
Picture a pie.*
Your favorite pie.
You’re hungry, and in the mood for dessert. You want that pie. You even want to eat the WHOLE pie!
But there are others present. You know they want some pie too.
The various attitudes toward pie represent conflict styles - everyone has a preference on how to approach conflict (strangely, my preferences are accommodating and competing…).
The 5 styles outlined in this image and represented by pie decision-making are:
Since going through my mediation training in 2018, I've spent a lot of time thinking about the hidden benefits of curiosity. When we are genuinely curious about other people, we can communicate more gently through any brewing conflicts or disagreements.
Work cultures where curiosity reigns tend to be places where conflict rarely feels like conflict. Disagreements happen, and they are seen as steps in a process - just a part of working together to create or improve upon a product, process, or service.
From my perspective, it’s easiest to be curious about others when we have some empathy for them, or a desire to understand them. Empathy is the social glue that holds any group of people together - we care about each other and share a desire to learn about each other.
When disagreements do happen, they may or may not become full-blown conflicts (even in the happiest of workplaces). One key to keeping disagreements from becoming conflicts is to listen with curiosity - to...
I’m super excited to partner with PATHZ and Arkin Youngentob, a division of Risk Strategies, to bring you two opportunities to learn to be a better communicator in February.
What you can learn:
What active listening means
How to listen to understand
What curiosity has to do with conflict & communication
Go-to questions to ask when conflict is brewing
Too often, we listen to others while doing something else: composing our response, judging their behavior, thinking about what to eat for dinner, etc. In this live, interactive webinar we’ll talk about what it means to actively listen. That means listening fully, focused on understanding the other person’s perspective, without judgment. This live, highly interactive webinar will include an opportunity to practice active listening with a partner - from the comfort of your own home! We ask that participants use video if...
Most of us spend a lot of hours in meetings of all kinds. A friend of mine has repeatedly complained,
“I can’t get any work done. I have too many meetings!”
Unproductive meetings can contribute to employees feeling disengaged or unengaged; so running a good, productive meeting is one step toward increasing employee engagement.
This post is the first in a series of four covering ways to make meetings more productive. The topics we’ll cover include:
Considering timing; and,
Preparing for the potential of conflict (this post!).
We’re tackling the last point first today. We’re all human; we all have emotions; and meetings typically feel like interruptions into our day. This means the potential for disengagement or conflict is relatively high. Hopefully my future posts (hosting, purpose, timing) will help prevent or resolve disengagement in your meetings. For today, let’s focus on preparing for the...
The smell of garlic filled the air, tinged with broccoli and melted butter. The floor was slick. Blue, white, and green ceramic shards were everywhere. The silence lasted at least half a minute before my oldest daughter said, “Whoa, that scared me!” She stood next to the open dishwasher. My younger daughter stood next to me, with a stricken look on her face, knowing it was her hand that had knocked the bowl of leftover dinner vegetables from my hand, onto the floor.
My younger daughter had washed her hands and decided to “air dry” them. She had just begun to swing her arms wildly (ah, kids) as I walked into the kitchen carrying multiple dishes with food on them; one of them was the leftover vegetables. My younger daughter’s arm collided with the large serving bowl in my hand, and bam! The bowl hit the floor, along with the broccoli, string beans, garlic, and melted butter.
Here’s how I handled it after the initial moment of...
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!
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...
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,...