How to Manage Workplace Conflict

4 Keys to Manage Workplace Conflict: Curiosity, Kindness, Engagement, and Shared Purpose.

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Listen with Curiosity

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...

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2 Chances to Learn Online This Month!

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 

 

First up:

Listen! Can You? Listening Skills for Better Problem Solving

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...

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Good Meetings: Preparing for Potential Conflict

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:

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...

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Family Dinner Disaster: A Conflict Lesson

conflict learning mediation Dec 11, 2019

Learning Moment

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...

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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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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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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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