4 Practical Tips to Manage Conflict in Your Organization & Life

“I’m just going to fire the cleaning lady!” This is how my friend responded to my greeting as I picked up the phone. “What happened?” I asked. Flustered and breathless she says, “She flushed a toothbrush down the toilet, didn’t tell us and now we have had to drain the septic system, snake all the drains, and finally replace the toilet! I’m talkin’ $800 bucks worth of service and repair to find a toothbrush!” I cautiously allow the next question to leave my lips, “Have you talked to her about it?” Silence.

How many times have you, as an HR professional, had someone burst into your office or call you on the phone with their own version of “firing the cleaning lady,” and you discover no attempt has been made to discuss the issue with the employee or co-worker? Probably more often than you would like.

Learning to respond appropriately, manage conflict and handle uncomfortable conversations is so important in leadership and in life that entire books (Crucial Conversations, by Kerry Patterson, Joseph Grenny, Ron McMillan & Al Switzler) and businesses (trained mediators, etc.) have been built around the topic.

Learning to respond vs. allowing the knee-jerk reaction to take over is critical to leadership success. Dan Clemens, owner of Quiet Path Communications, says in his presentation, Cultivating a Wise Response, “A Response is wise, purposeful action that weighs the perceived urgency of current pain and pleasure with more important goals and objectives. A Response encompasses the complexities of people and circumstances with an unflinching focus on goals and outcomes.” He goes on to say, “A Reaction is a reflex – impulsive action based on an awareness of, and a solution for, only a “Narrow Slice” of the situation. Reactions are attempts to dodge pain or discomfort and grasp for pleasure – to the exclusion of larger goals and objectives.”

Employees and co-workers reacting to situations in inappropriate or unproductive ways is a real time suck for HR folks. It can lead to inappropriate terminations, high turnover rates, reduced productivity, and a myriad of other organizational afflictions. So, how do you get some of that time back and reduce the costs to your organization? Provide your managers with the following practical developmental tips:

  • Intend to CREATE the positive outcome desired. Ask “what do I want from this interaction?”
  • SEEK more information. Ask “what do I need to know before I talk to this person or address this issue?”
  • SEND the right message in order to get the desired outcome. Ask “what will happen when I address this issue in this way?”
  • Own your role in the FINISH. Ask “what am I willing to do to get to the desired outcome?”

You have the power to move the cultural needle in your organization by training managers and employees to be more self aware and to respond instead of react. Let’s face it, no one really wants to “fire the cleaning lady.”

To learn more about coaching managers and employees for improved social + emotional intelligence, go to http://www.the-isei.com/.

For more information on Dan Clemens and his presentation “Cultivating a Wise Response,” go to http://www.quietpath.com/

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