Workplace Conflict Faqs An Interview With Judy Ringer

Workplace Conflict Faqs An Interview With Judy Ringer



Workplace Conflict: FAQs - An Interview with Judy Ringer
Does conflict disrupt your workplace environment? Read on! Judy Ringer answers some commonly asked questions on​ the​ subjects of​ workplace conflict,​ difficult people,​ and how to​ manage them more effectively .​

Q .​
What are some typical breakdowns in​ the​ workplace?
JR: I​ wouldn’t call them breakdowns,​ but conflicts .​
a​ typical conflict is​ what is​ sometimes called triangulation .​
One person is​ upset with their coworker,​ and instead of​ speaking with the​ co-worker about their concern,​ they talk to​ someone else about it​ or​ many others about it .​
Office gossip starts this way.
Different work styles,​ misunderstanding of​ roles,​ jumping to​ conclusions -- these are all ways that conflicts get started .​

Q .​
Why do people keep falling into the​ same traps in​ the​ workplace?
JR: Our training is​ insufficient .​
We’ve been trained to​ deal with conflict in​ ways that are not useful .​
a​ typical myth about conflict is​ that it​ is​ negative .​
And so we​ see people around us either avoiding it​ or​ acting out their feelings .​
The triangulation example demonstrates this myth .​
I’m afraid to​ speak directly to​ you about a​ conflict,​ but I​ will talk to​ others about it .​
And so the​ problem doesn’t go away .​
In fact it​ often gets worse .​

We keep falling into these traps because we​ see others doing it​ that way .​
In spite of​ the​ fact that it​ doesn’t work,​ it’s what we​ know so we​ keep doing it,​ hoping for a​ different result .​
Of course that doesn’t work,​ and we​ keep having the​ same conflicts .​

Q .​
Please give some examples of​ disrespectful behavior .​

JR: This is​ an​ important question .​
It helps to​ understand that behavior that appears disrespectful to​ me may not appear the​ same to​ you .​
Did she mean to​ be disrespectful? Or is​ she just tired this morning? Or shy? Or preoccupied? (The list goes on.)
On the​ other hand,​ ignoring a​ new supervisor’s request to​ perform a​ task differently can show disrespect,​ especially if​ you don’t communicate about it .​
Eye rolling,​ sighing,​ clicking your tongue,​ giggling conspiratorially with another coworker -- these often show a​ willing disrespect .​

Sometimes we​ don’t know we’re being disrespectful .​
It’s important that new employees understand the​ work culture and what does and does not constitute disrespect .​
Social skills are learned .​
One of​ the​ supervisor’s jobs is​ to​ help employees understand when their actions are perceived as​ disrespectful and to​ give them alternatives .​
a​ good supervisor is​ a​ good teacher .​

Q .​
How do I​ know if​ my boss is​ a​ tormentor or​ a​ teacher?
JR: Ha! That’s up to​ you .​
You decide .​
You have that power .​
Our most difficult situations,​ coworkers,​ and bosses can turn out to​ be teachers if​ we​ choose to​ learn something about why we​ react to​ them .​
What would it​ take to​ change my attitude from making a​ judgment about them to​ being curious about them,​ or​ being curious about my reaction to​ their behavior?
And I​ don’t mean to​ say that the​ boss is​ necessarily right or​ that his behavior is​ beyond reproach .​
What I​ mean is​ that I​ have to​ make some choices about how to​ handle what’s coming at​ me from this person .​
I​ could talk to​ him about the​ impact his behavior is​ having on​ me,​ the​ team,​ and our ability to​ get the​ job done .​
Or I​ could complain to​ others .​
Do I​ have the​ awareness and skill to​ notice my resistance,​ check out which of​ my buttons are being pushed,​ and make a​ wise decision about how to​ proceed?
Maybe I​ find that if​ I​ change slightly I​ can regain some confidence and equanimity and be able to​ handle the​ situation more effectively .​
This is​ how a​ tormentor becomes a​ teacher .​
As I​ learn about myself I​ begin to​ have new options .​

Q .​
How can an​ employee create a​ win-win situation with a​ tormentor?
JR: You begin by being curious .​
What would make a​ reasonable,​ rational person behave this way? the​ answer is​ usually something you can identify with .​
For example,​ an​ authoritarian boss usually has values around perfection,​ looking good,​ being in​ control,​ and getting the​ job done correctly .​
I​ certainly can identify with these intentions .​
The way the​ boss acts out the​ intention may be rough .​
But now you have the​ basis for a​ conversation .​
You’re entering in​ a​ more positive way,​ and you can talk about commonalities .​

Another way to​ create win-win solutions is​ by asking useful questions of​ the​ other person .​
What is​ important to​ them in​ this conflict? What would they like the​ outcome to​ be? One of​ the​ best questions I​ ever raised in​ a​ conflict was to​ ask the​ other person what caused them to​ be so upset with me,​ and what I​ might have done differently .​
She was happy to​ tell me .​
I​ learned a​ lot .​

Q .​
What are some tips to​ handle strong emotions in​ the​ workplace?
JR: Begin by acknowledging the​ emotions .​
Take a​ minute and take stock of​ your own emotions .​
Name them .​
Are you angry,​ sad,​ happy,​ surprised,​ disappointed? Usually there are many emotions happening simultaneously .​
Acknowledge as​ many as​ you can .​
Next,​ identify the​ underlying causes .​
Often there’s a​ story connected to​ the​ emotion that’s causing you to​ react but has nothing to​ do with the​ current event .​
If you can identify the​ story (usually an​ old,​ familiar one),​ you can bring some awareness to​ the​ situation .​
The awareness tells you how much of​ the​ emotion has to​ do with the​ current event and how much of​ it​ is​ from the​ past event .​
Once you know,​ you can choose how to​ utilize the​ energy .​
For example,​ with a​ huge emotion,​ you might be tempted to​ hide it​ or​ to​ act it​ out on​ the​ other person .​
When you get a​ sense about why the​ event is​ so charged,​ you’ll regain some balance and be able to​ make a​ wiser decision about how to​ (or even if​ you want to) have a​ conversation with the​ person instead .​

Acknowledge the​ other person’s feelings as​ well .​
Consider what story they might be telling themselves,​ and inquire about it .​
For example: You sound upset (acknowledgment) .​
Are you? Have I​ said something that caused you to​ react this way (inquiry)? It just takes practice,​ like anything else .​

Q .​
Can you give five tips to​ managing a​ difficult conversation?
JR: Most books on​ this topic,​ though they may speak differently about them,​ identify the​ same basic skills for handling difficult conversations:
1 .​
Start with yourself .​
Acknowledge your feelings and gain control of​ them .​
Breathe .​
Identify your desired outcome for the​ conversation and try to​ guess at​ theirs .​
What do they want? What do you want?
2 .​
Be curious .​
Inquire .​
Find out how they see the​ situation .​
Ask useful questions and listen .​
Don’t judge or​ make assumptions .​
Don’t take it​ personally .​
This is​ their story and they can tell it​ whatever way they want .​
Support them .​

3 .​
Acknowledge their story and their feelings .​
Validate their concerns .​
This doesn’t mean you agree .​
It means that you hear them .​
It’s a​ tremendous gift and moves the​ conversation in​ a​ useful direction .​
You get a​ gift,​ too .​
You learn a​ lot about what’s important to​ this person,​ which will be helpful when you begin to​ look for solutions .​

4 .​
Advocate for yourself .​
What is​ your story? What are they not seeing? Explain how the​ situation looks from your perspective .​
Go slowly and don’t assume .​

5 .​
Build solutions based on​ new understanding .​
As you begin to​ listen and talk,​ information comes out that will help you co-create effective solutions with your partner.




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