Conflict Resolution

Following my own advice

A personal challenge I face working in the field of conflict resolution is that I must take my own advice. And sometimes, I just don’t want to.

There have been two situations recently that have required me digging deep, getting honest with myself and recognizing that I was compromising in areas that, long-term, would be damaging.

Facing these situations meant stepping into awkwardness and being vulnerable to admit things I did not want to.  It also meant apologizing.  The outcome of both were not what I had hoped.  

In spite of believing the right discussions were had and the right decisions made, part of me is not satisfied with the outcome.  But they resulted in increased clarity and generated compassion and respect in me for the others involved.  Sometimes, this juxtaposition is how conflict works.  

It’s OK to not be OK

“It’s okay to not be okay.  It’s not okay to stay that way”.  I am not sure who originally said this, but I have heard it most often said by Matt Chandler.

I think a similar concept applies to disagreements that we have in our life – those with others and our own internal conflicts (even those that we do not acknowledge):  It’s okay to have disagreements. It’s not okay to ignore them.

Cold wars at work

“Most wars between individuals are of the 'cold' rather than the 'hot' variety---lingering resentment, for example, grudges long held, resources clutched rather than shared, help not offered. These are the acts of war that most threaten our homes and workplaces.”  ―The Arbinger Institute


Let me know if I can help you better understand your organization and uncover hidden behaviors that your team may not feel comfortable sharing with you directly.

Respondent feedback to HR

In the same survey referenced yesterday where 58% of Respondents said that their HR organizations were “not at all helpful” to them in resolving a workplace conflict, Respondents were able to provide input on what could have been done better by their HR organizations to help resolve issues.  Here are recurring themes from their input:

  • Work with me to find a solution, rather than simply telling me, "That's the way it is." 
  • Provide practical steps to make things better.
  • Unbiasedly investigate the situation / Remain neutral while gathering all the facts.
  • Engage vs. just documenting different facts.

Research shows that conflict at work increases risks, increases litigation, results in time off of work, and decreases productivity.  Early intervention is easier to manage than mitigating a crisis or spending money to correct risks that were overlooked.  

Let me know if I can help you better understand your organization and uncover hidden behaviors that your team may not feel comfortable sharing with you directly.

Work Cultures Part 3 (of 3)

David Burkus of the Harvard Business Review posits that “people with looser boundaries between home and work did experience more cognitive role transitions, but that they were also less depleted by them.”

… “The study not only gives permission to let your mind wander at work (or at home), but it offers us a bit of forgiveness: letting your personal life intrude on your work might make you more productive in the long-run.”

Triggers from our past

One day I received a phone call from someone who was kind in their approach to let me know that I had angered them.  As we spoke and I listened, it became clear that what I had said hit a nerve because of things that I had no prior knowledge of.  

Most of us are probably carrying something that is a trigger for us from a specific past experience. 

  • We free ourselves when we recognize our triggers and release them (may require help to do so).
  • When we are offended, we have the opportunity to presume positive intent on the part of the other person, reflect on our responsibility to the trigger (address and resolve it) and/or humbly and courageously approach the other person to discuss.
  • When we are approached by someone who was offended by us, listen and ask questions. It is an opportunity to learn about the other person and ourselves.
  • None of us is responsible for another person’s historic triggers.  We can still listen and engage with empathy.