8 Skills for Mastering Conflict Resolution

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“For good ideas and true innovation, you need human interaction, conflict, argument, debate.”

~ Margaret Heffernan ~

Anna has always been a competent and conscientious employee, but she couldn’t figure out how to really shine as a leader. Her mentor suggested she evaluate what skills her office needed most and work to fill the gap. Anna realized that office conflicts were wasting valuable time and energy. Coworkers were avoiding conflict at all costs until it came to a head, and several of her coworkers had left the company because of the negative atmosphere. By honing her conflict resolution skills, Anna knew she could really get noticed.

Conflict resolution is an invaluable skill that will make you shine as an employee, because few people do it really well. Helping conflicts to happen in healthy ways will boost ingenuity, foster harmonious relationships, and increase job satisfaction. Whether you’re mediating conflicts for others or resolving a conflict with a coworker or even with your boss, these tips will help you to master this skill.

1. Predict conflicts.

Conflicts don’t always have to catch you off guard. Look for personality clashes and underlying tensions that could surface during a challenging moment. That will help you to circumvent them when possible by curbing bad behavior before it gets out of hand, and to anticipate how to handle tense situations.

2. Let both parties cool down.

Don’t attempt to find a solution while everyone is boiling mad. Give people time and space to cool down and reflect on the situation. Let them know you’ll help resolve the conflict after everyone has had some breathing room.

3. Articulate the conflict.

Clearly state what is happening and why it’s important to solve the conflict. Ask all parties if they agree with your summary of the situation. You can’t solve the problem until you know what problem you’re solving.

4. Get to the root of the issue.

Personality clashes and past disagreements that flare up might cloud the issue. If you’ve taken the time to predict what types of conflicts might arise in your workplace, you’ll have a better idea of their root causes. Ask yourself if you’ve seen a pattern at play.

5. Make sure both parties feel heard.

Schedule one-on-one time with each party, if possible, to make sure they’ve each had the chance to fully air their concerns and feel heard. If you’re involved in the conflict, reach out to a colleague who can help you understand the other party’s perspective, and ask your advocate for advice if need be.

6. Foster collaboration or compromise.

Solutions that involve collaboration or compromise are the most productive, because they ensure everyone’s needs are met. They’re far more productive than having one party accommodate the other’s wishes completely, or having both parties compete head-on to show their solution is best. While negotiating the solution, consider whether one party is more domineering or vocal than the other. If so, work to draw the more reserved party out to make sure no one’s needs are being overlooked.

7. Communicate expectations with everyone.

Communicating expectations clearly will help avoid future conflicts. Clear communication also makes people feel valued. If the office already has formal protocol related to the issue at hand, communicate it to the entire office. If not, assemble a small team of people to develop a protocol that coworkers can look to in the future.

8. Solicit solutions

Ask for potential solutions from all parties involved in the conflict. If other coworkers have investment in the issue at hand, ask the whole office for solutions. When the people in conflict see its resolution as a joint effort, they’ll be more likely to feel acknowledged, supported, and treated fairly.

Working to build positive relationships with coworkers on a daily basis will help them trust your methods of conflict resolution. Making this effort will poise you to take leadership in the conflict resolution process. Like Anna, as you hone stellar conflict resolution skills, your boss will come to see you as a leader in your workplace.

Anne purchased my book Difficult Conversations which provided her with the practical tactics for some of the crucial communication she was prepared to begin having.

For the next week, take notice of any tension brewing in your office and predict what conflicts might arise from it. Take action each day to address a potential area of conflict, such as asking a coworker what might alleviate her frustrations with fellow team members. Take notes on what worked and what didn’t, and email Joel for feedback.

Talkback: Have conflict resolution skills gotten you noticed? Have you seen them benefit your coworkers? Share your experiences here.

Image courtesy of Pixabay/ pixabay.com

The Power of Gratitude in the Workplace

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If [thankfulness] were a drug it would be the world’s best-selling product with a health maintenance indication for every major organ system.”

~ Dr. P. Murali Doraiswamy. ~

Client Malcom Asks: There’s such a grumpy mood in the office. Everyone seems so negative… and with all the news you can’t blame them. What’s one thing I can do to add some positive energy and get us all more upbeat? How can I turn my current job into my dream job.

Coach Joel Answers: If you’re you trying to change your attitude, and feel better both physically and mentally, I have a solution. It sounds simple, but hear me out.

Scientific studies back up what I’m about to tell you. The answer is gratitude.

First, I’m going to tell you what it does for you. Then I’ll tell you how to get it… and more importantly keep it.

You see, the things we focus on, enlarge. The more you… and the office… focus on negative things, the larger and more powerful they are. With that negativity comes increased stress and all the illnesses that accompany that.

  • Physical Benefits of Gratitude

When you start to fill your mind with positive things, you are happier and healthier. Amazingly, focusing on gratitude doesn’t just make you feel better, it actually makes things better. Your physical health, emotional and mental health, clarity of thought, fewer aches and pains, better sleep—all come with gratitude!

Gratitude actually changes the way your body works. It lowers cortisol and slows the inflammatory immune system. It can moderate blood pressure and blood sugar levels and adjust mood neurotransmitters. Duke University studies have measured the effects of gratitude in these areas.

Can you see the increase in workplace energy that would come as everyone felt better physically?

  • Emotional Benefits of Gratitude

But there are also emotional benefits. When people focus on gratitude they are happier and more willing to help others. It can translate into confidence. People feel more valued and appreciated. They see that they are moving toward success.

This change can make your office alive with possibilities and energy. Chances are you’ll feel more creative. And studies show gratitude increases feelings of cooperation and help build stronger teams.

Why does it work?

Again, that which you focus on gets stronger. Neuropsychologist Rick Hanson says that focusing on gratitude creates neural pathways in the brain that become superhighways to happiness and inner strength.

And when the brain changes, behaviors change. You take better care of yourself. Your stress level goes down. You stay healthy. You feel better. You have more energy to accomplish more things. You create a dynamic workplace that’s fun to work in.

How can I make it work for me?

The good news is that it’s easy to get started. Start looking for things to be grateful for. When you look, you’ll see them. Here are additional ways to bring gratitude into your life and the life of your office.

1. Hold yourself accountable. Keep a daily gratitude journal and commit to writing at least three things you’re grateful for each day. Every day. They don’t have to be big things. It might be a sunset, or getting the lights all green or doing well on a presentation.

2. Say thank you. And mean it. Show appreciation for all the small things people do for you at work. Thank the person who held the door open for you. Send a note of appreciation to the co-worker who helped you with a project. You feel good and you make someone else feel good.

3. Continually look for things to appreciate. Decide to tell one of your co-workers, your spouse, or friend something you appreciate about them every day. If you believe in a higher power, spent time sending appreciation that way.

4. Give thanks for what you have. Realize you have more than 9/10th of the rest of the world according to Forbes Better Life Index. You’re even better off than the richest 10% in France, Japan or Italy. When you find yourself dissatisfied or focusing on what you lack, stop and be grateful for what you have.

While it won’t happen overnight, you can expect to feel happier and more enthusiastic sooner than you might imagine as you consciously practice gratitude. The longer you focus on gratitude the more you will find health and happiness benefits.

You and your co-workers will create a more vibrant, energetic office as they join you in strengthening the gratitude pathways of the mind.

Tired of your office atmosphere and looking to feel better about it? Contact Joel for personal help to put gratitude to work in your life and office.

Talkback: What gratitude tips have you tried and seen the impact and value it’s had on your life. Please share examples below. Thanks so much.

Image courtesy of Pixabay/ pixabay.com

The Importance of Being an Active Leader versus a Behind-the-Scenes Leader

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“A leader knows the way, goes the way, and shows the way.”

~ John Maxwell ~

While it may sound elementary, a leader – by definition – must lead. And a leader cannot lead from behind the scenes. While every organization needs people who work in the shadows, these individuals are the “supporting cast.” However, an effective leader must be front and center, taking an active role in the vision of the company and the growth and success of its employees.

The Result of Hiding Behind the Scenes

According to a recent Towers Watson Global Workforce Study, 26 percent of employees consider themselves totally “disengaged,” 17 percent feel “detached,” and 22 percent classify themselves as “unsupported.” These views, whether real or perceived, reveal that many employees are not happy campers when they are at work. And, over a period of time, demotivated employees will not sustain high performance and productivity levels. Active leadership is the only way to combat these problems and turn the tide of employee disenchantment.

Employee Interaction

Active leadership paints a persuasive vision of the company’s future that excites workers and encourages them to be an important part of it. This includes allowing employees to offer constructive criticism and suggestions for improvement. Neil Giarratana, author of CEO Priorities, warns against “managing by exception,” or being a reactive leader who only engages workers when there is a problem. Employees need regular interactions with their leaders.

Active leaders also understand the importance of being genuinely concerned about their employees. They don’t treat their workers as a means to an end, but as valuable individuals who are responsible for the success of the company.

Information Sharing 

Active leadership also involves open and honest communication. Keeping workers in the dark is a sure-fire way to promote detachment and disengagement. In their book, Management Reset, authors Edward Lawler III and Christopher Worley write that a failure to communicate with employees about the direction of the company is one of the most common mistakes that leaders make.

Sometimes, there is hesitation to share bad news or to reveal plans that are not completely worked out. However, employees respect honesty and appreciate being “in the loop” during the company’s strategizing or preliminary phases.

Also, active leaders don’t sit in their office all day waiting for status reports. They are out and about, conversing with the people on the ground and in the trenches. This is the only way to obtain an accurate picture of what is happening in the company.

Employee Empowerment

 As Gary Hamel succinctly put it, “Leaders serve rather than preside.”

Hamel, author of What Matters Now, stresses the importance of providing workers with the tools that they need to be successful. Active leaders provide an environment that encourages and motivates employees to do their best work. These leaders work to remove any obstacles. This may range from providing additional training when needed, to purchasing software or equipment that makes the job less tedious and time-consuming. It may also include non-tangibles, such as ensuring that workers have a work-life balance.

Terri Williams is a freelance writer who focuses on a wide variety of topics for a range of websites including Business.com.

 

Talkback: Do you find yourself sinking into becoming less of an active leader? What tips from above do you plan on using to take a more active leadership role? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.

My Manager Yells at Me:
4 Ways to Deal with a Bad Boss

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“Accomplishing the impossible means only that the boss will add it to your regular duties.”

~ Doug Larson ~

David Asks:  I have a manager who is always getting on everyone’s case over everything. He has even yelled at employees in front of customers. How do I deal with this situation, other than trying to stay out of his way?

Joel Answers:  There is a wide variety in leadership styles between different bosses or even companies, but it is never appropriate for a manager to publicly humiliate an employee. It’s hard to enjoy your work when you’re worried about setting your boss off on a rampage. Here are some things you can do to improve your situation at work:

  1. Build relationships with other managers within the company. Start preparing for a lateral—or even vertical—move within the company. Work on making yourself well-known outside of your department so that you will be more likely to be considered when a position opens up elsewhere in the company.
  2. Remember that your boss is human. If your boss’s recent behavior is uncharacteristic of how he normally acts, consider the possibility that he may be going through something personally that is beyond his capability to deal with at the moment. Try to be understanding and express empathy in a nonthreatening way. For example, you might say, “You seem a little stressed out today. Is there anything I can do to help?”
  3. Stand up for yourself calmly but firmly. Just because your boss is a jerk doesn’t mean you have to let him get away with inappropriate behavior. If you feel you have been wrongly reprimanded, calmly but firmly explain why you acted the way you did.
  4. Report your boss. Complaining about your boss’s bad behavior to human resources is always an option, but tread carefully. It could make your life at the company more difficult. However, even if it does, your complaint will go on record and make it easier for the next person who has the courage to speak up.

If the situation doesn’t improve and you are unable to transfer to another department, you may want to consider looking for employment elsewhere. Remaining in a hostile work environment with a bad boss adds stress to your life that can detract from your overall happiness and fulfillment, not just with your career, but in other areas as well. You can eliminate that stress by finding a more satisfying position.

Are you struggling to get ahead at work? Garfinkle Executive Coaching can help you develop strong executive presence, get the attention you deserve for your work, and get the promotion you’ve always dreamed of.

Talkback: Have you ever had a bad experience with a boss? Tell us about it in the comments! Or ask a question you’d like Joel to answer in a future column.

Image: FreeDigitalPhotos.net

5 Qualities that Make a Good Team Player Great

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“Talent wins games, but teamwork and intelligence win championships.”

~ Michael Jordan ~

Strong team players are the backbone of any team. When others fail, these are the people who venture on with strong resolve and persistence, committed to getting the job done. Most people can list the qualities of bad team members without struggling too hard, but do you know what qualities great team players share?

Here are five qualities that make a good team player great:

  1. Always reliable. A great team player is constantly reliable day in and day out, not just some of the time. You can count on them to get the job done, meet deadlines, keep their word and provide consistent quality work.  With excellent performance, organization and follow-through on tasks they develop positive work relationships with team members and keep the team on track.
  2. Communicates with confidence. Good team players might silently get the work done but shy away from speaking up and speaking often. Great team players communicate their ideas honestly and clearly and respect the views and opinions of others on the team.  Clear, effective communication done constructively and respectfully is the key to getting heard.
  3. Does more than asked. While getting the work done and doing your fair share is expected of good team players, great team players know that taking risks, stepping outside their comfort zones, and coming up with creative ideas is what it’ll take to get ahead. Taking on more responsibilities and extra initiative sets them apart from others on the team.
  4. Adapts quickly and easily. Great team players don’t passively sit on the sideline and see change happen; they adapt to changing situations and often drive positive change themselves.  They don’t get stressed or complain but are flexible in finding their feet in whatever is thrown their way.
  5. Displays genuine commitment. Good team players are happy to work 9-5 and receive their paycheck at the end of the month. Great team players take the time to make positive work relationships with other team members a priority and display a genuine passion and commitment toward their team. They come to work with the commitment of giving it 110% and expect others on the team to do the same.

To be a great team player, you don’t have to be extroverted or indulge in self-promotion. In fact, great team players sport all kinds of personalities. You just need to be an active participant and do more than your job title states. Put the team’s objectives above yours and take the initiative to get things done without waiting to be asked. In return you will build positive perception, gain more visibility, and develop influential connections to get ahead in your career.

Want to learn more ways to build positive work relationships with members of your team? Click here to read more articles on teamwork

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