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Archive for the ‘Conflict Management’ Category

3 Ways to Defuse Diversity-Related Conflicts in the Workplace

Friday, May 5th, 2017

Diversity-related tension in the workplace is a common occurrence, whether you work with just a few people or have teams of hundreds all across the globe. Small tensions can simmer into large conflicts, so it’s important to provide diversity training to employees so that they know how to defuse diversity-related conflicts before they boil over.

In the workplace, “diversity moments” happen when differences in culture, experience, and expectations affect our relationships or understanding of a situation. They are often based in cross-cultural misunderstandings when a meaning that exists in one culture is interpreted differently in another.

Diversity training programs – and even communication skills videos – that present realistic scenarios and concrete steps for handling these “diversity moments”, are a great resource for combating workplace conflicts about diversity. Here are 3 ways to address diversity-related conflicts.

Explore and Acknowledge Differences

When in the midst of a diversity conflict, it’s important to explore others’ viewpoints, and not assume that you know it all. Quickly explain the situation or concern from your perspective, then invite the other person’s perspective. Use phrases like “The way I see this is….” or “How do you look at this?” Then, reframe what you’ve heard the other person explain with something like, “If I understand what you are saying…”.

Diversity and communication skills video recommendation: M.E.E.T. Breaking New GroundCovers how to manage dynamics and create a respectful workplace by focusing on the respect & inclusion component of diversity.

Assess Intent Cautiously

In the heat of the moment, it’s easy to assume that someone else INTENDED to be hurtful, mean, rude, or even racist. But diversity training teaches us to assess others’ intent cautiously: don’t jump to conclusions about that person’s intent. Think about a time when you made an assumption about someone’s attitude or intent and turned out to be wrong (or when someone misjudged your intent).

Diversity and communication skills video recommendation: Gateways to Inclusion Dr. Sondra Thiederman teaches skills that turn moments of diversity tension into “gateways” for increased understanding and improved relationships.

Speak Up Without Blame or Guilt

If a “diversity moment” occurs where you hear someone stereotype another person, or say something demeaning, speak up. If you stay silent, other people may interpret your silence as support for the hurtful comment or action.

When you speak up, make sure you do it without blaming the speaker or trying to make them feel guilty. Remember in the point above – don’t assume that person intended harm; instead, give them the benefit of the doubt and ask a question (like, “I’m not sure I caught that; what were you saying?”), explain the impact of what they said (“I know you meant that to be funny, but it hurts.”), or try to broaden their remark to universal human behavior, like (“I don’t think that’s really a ‘woman thing’; I think that applies to both men and women.”). These steps can help defuse a diversity conflict before it really gets started.  

Diversity and communication skills video recommendation: Ouch! That Stereotype HurtsIn a powerful way, this program depicts the impact stereotypical comments have on others. Practical techniques for speaking up are provided.

Effective Conflict Management – Learn These Stages to Resolution

Friday, March 24th, 2017

Our response to conflict can sometimes be seen as a circular pattern – a trigger event happens, followed by one person’s negative, confrontational response, which then prompts a similarly negative response from the other person…and on and on. What if, instead of falling into this cycle of conflict when a trigger event occurs, we, instead, had the training that would enable us to make a better choice of how to respond, breaking the cycle altogether? A conflict resolution video can teach your team how to productively respond to conflict when it occurs with effective stages of conflict management.confilict-management

Events that trigger conflict at work can vary widely, from body language that one person interprets as angry or offensive, to a co-worker verbally attacking you for how you submitted a project. While some people’s reaction to that trigger event might be to clam up or run away, often people will fight back: they’ll respond emotionally and defensively.

The first of the stages of conflict management is to step back and get some perspective. Do not respond to the trigger event immediately; instead, force yourself to take a deep breath, ask to speak about the issue later, or ask to move to a more private location to talk. All these things will allow you a few moments to calm your body and gain some perspective on the situation.

Next, endeavor to control your emotions. This is easier said than done when you’re upset by another person’s words or actions, but it is vital to turning the conversation into a productive one, capable of a constructive outcome. One way of controlling your emotions is to depersonalize the comments that have been made. Another tip to keep in mind is to give the other person the benefit of the doubt – don’t assume he or she is mean, or is out to get you personally; instead, perhaps they don’t have all the information, or are having a particularly bad day. Taking a moment to rein in your own anger, fear or anxiety helps you respond more constructively and also helps the OTHER person remain calm.

Lastly, imagine, and then take action to create, a successful outcome. When planning your responses to the other person, envision a response that respects the other person, while focusing on solving the issue. Ask clarifying questions, and even try to empathize with the other person (“It seems like you’re upset…”). Then clarify aloud what both of your goals are in this situation. While staying calm and respectful, try to find a way to meet his or her goals as well as your own.

A conflict resolution video can be invaluable for demonstrating relatable workplace conflict scenarios and providing good behavior modeling for how to effectively work through the stages of conflict management. Conflict Clock: Taking T.I.M.E. to Resolve Conflict in the Workplace is designed to help employees, leaders & teams respond to workplace conflict by teaching four strategies to help participants break old & negative response habits.

Take Steps to Resolve Conflict at Work by “Unhooking”

Thursday, January 5th, 2017

The experience of feeling caught in an emotionally distressing situation at work is referred to as being “hooked.” To unhook from difficult personalities and conflicts on the job, train employees how to resolve conflicts on their own. Conflict resolution videos can be very valuable in this endeavor, providing clear “how to” steps to resolve conflict, and realistic behaviors to model (or avoid!).communicationskills

The workplace can be a volatile environment – tight deadlines, project failures, uncertain revenues – alongside coworkers with a mix of personalities, so it’s no surprise that sometimes people rub each other the wrong way. Although it’s usually unintentional, emotional, erratic or unprofessional behavior can disrupt your workflow and “suck you in” to a conflict before you know it. It’s important to take steps to resolve conflict before it interferes with your productivity.

One method of unhooking from conflicts at work is described below. The first step is to unhook physically from the problem. It’s a fact that when you are angry or upset, physical activity can often help you calm down and see the situation more objectively. It may be impractical in the middle of a conflict to head to the gym for an hour, but you can do small things to calm yourself physically: take a walk in the hallway, take some deep breaths, step outside for a minute or go get a cold drink of water.

The second step is to unhook mentally. To unhook mentally, we examine the situation to understand how it occurred, and think about how we can change our behavior. You may or may not be able to change the other person, but you can at least change your approach to the situation. Ask yourself some questions to help you objectively analyze the situation, like: What are the facts here? What is his/her part, and what is MY part in this conflict? What are my options for handling this? What outcome am I looking for here and what are the potential consequences of my various options?

The last step is to unhook verbally, by discussing the situation with the other party. Choose your language carefully by thinking about what to say to resolve the conflict, not perpetuate it. Try to use “I” statements to reduce potential defensiveness in the other party (“I feel ‘x’… when ‘y’…because ‘z’….so I’d like ‘abc’…”). When setting a new boundary with someone or suggesting a new way of doing things, state it clearly, without anger, in as few words as possible. Use positive, inclusive language and be sure to also listen respectfully to their ideas.

You may need to practice a few times before you are comfortable confronting difficult workplace situations, but these steps will help you begin to unhook from the workplace situations that are making your work-life less than the wonderful experience it can be.

Conflict resolution videos like Working With You is Killing Me can offer employees practical steps to resolve conflict. This video shows how to address disruptive behavior, set boundaries and improve interpersonal relationships at work.

4 Essential Conflict Resolution Steps

Friday, November 4th, 2016

Dealing with conflict in the workplace can cost employees and managers time, productivity, and emotional stress. Having organization-wide conflict resolution steps in place, however, will help everyone know how to tackle conflict constructively, instead of avoiding it or letting it get out of hand. Below are 4 conflict resolution steps that are essential to anyone’s conflict management “toolkit.”bluecollar

  1. Get clarity on the conflict. This first step is the most important since most of us do not take the time to back off and analyze why the conflict occurred and what we are looking for as a resolution. This step involves taking some time by yourself, before you address the other person, to ask some questions. This helps you avoid an unplanned, “knee-jerk” reaction to the conflict and the questions help you to get clarity on what’s going on, what you feel, what you ultimately want from this situation, and what you think the other person might want. Once you’ve made your way through these self-reflective questions, you’ll have a clearer picture of how to proceed – is it really a non-issue that you can let go of, or is it a legitimate problem that needs to be resolved?

  2. Talk to the other person. This seems like an obvious step, but many people will try to take a shortcut and just email (or text, etc.) the other person! When trying to work through a conflict, having the discussion in person is always best (or by phone if you’re geographically separated). Talking to the other person involves practicing our opening statement and issue description ahead of time, and then finding the time and place to have an open, two-way discussion with the other person. It’s critical to open the conversation with a statement that encourages collaboration (and not defensiveness). And, when describing the issue to the other person, make sure you include exactly what happened, how it made you feel, and the negative impacts the situation has caused.

  3. The third conflict resolution step is to listen to the other side. Once you’ve stated your side of the problem, you have to listen to the other person air their views and concerns. It’s the only way to understand their point of view. It will likely be uncomfortable, but it’s important that you never interrupt, that you give them your full attention, use positive body language (no crossing your arms or frowning), and paraphrase what you’ve heard to make sure you understand their point of view.

  4. Once both parties have aired their concerns, the last of these steps to conflict resolution is to work towards a solution. This step involves gaining agreement about the nature of the conflict, as well as the steps to be taken by both parties to resolve it. You should start by gaining agreement from the other person that there is a problem, and then make sure that you’ve both aired your concerns. Then it’s time to explore win-win solutions. Resolving conflict means finding a solution that does something for both participants, so be ready to communicate openly about the options. Lastly, plan a course of action based on the solution you’ve both agreed upon.

When conflict occurs, you never really know where the other person is coming from. You don’t know what might be happening behind the scenes for them, or what they are thinking. The most effective way to find out, and to resolve the situation, is to use these 4 steps to conflict resolution to help you and the other party find a fair solution you can both live with.

For a proven, bestselling training video that teaches effective steps to conflict resolution, check out What To Do When Conflict Happens. This program presents a practical and easy-to-use 4-step approach to managing conflict that helps individuals collect their thoughts and initiate resolution in the most productive way possible.

The Manager’s Role in Preventing Workplace Bullying

Wednesday, May 18th, 2016

bullying imageWorkplace bullying training is extremely important for managers and supervisors. Did you know that 50% of the U.S. workforce reports witnessing or having first-hand experience with bullying in the workplace? In fact, workplace bullying is more prevalent than illegal harassment. This management training topic – how to prevent bullying at work – is essential for employee morale and preventing a hostile work environment.  


What is bullying?

“By definition, bullying is persistent, offensive, intimidating, or insulting behavior that makes the recipient feel upset, threatened, humiliated, or vulnerable. Without intervention, bullies generally do not accept responsibility for their behavior; they are unable or unwilling to recognize the effect of their behavior on other people.”- CRM Learning’s Preventing Workplace Bullying training video

Bullying can happen in any size organization, in any department, and to anyone – subordinates, managers, men, women, young and old. Awareness is key, and it is everyone’s responsibility to prevent it. Prevention starts with each and every employee being aware of exactly what constitutes bullying, and knowing how to speak up for themselves and others. It means creating a culture that doesn’t tolerate bully behavior from anyone.

CRM Learning offers the best workplace bullying training videos on the market. Our “Preventing Workplace Bullying” video has been successful in training managers and employees who wish to improve their work environments. The video covers four skills, and features realistic workplace vignettes that take place in office, education, healthcare, and industrial settings.

1. Recognize Bully Behavior

The first step to preventing bullying is to recognize the behavior. Bullying comes in many forms and can often be mistaken for other types of behavior. It’s important to know what behavior “crosses the line” and fits the definition of bullying.

2. Speak up for Yourself

Looking out for yourself and your well-being is appropriate if you are being bullied in the workplace.  Everyone should know how to respond to bullying so they have a better chance of nipping the behavior in the bud. It’s important to be confident and share facts and feelings when speaking up to a bully.

3. Stand up for Others

If you witness bullying, it is your responsibility to stand up for the target of the bullying behavior. State your observations and share your concerns with the appropriate people. Explain how the negative behavior is affecting the employee and others.

4. Commit to Next Steps

Document actions taken and responses to speaking up to a bully. If necessary, make a formal complaint. Every organization should ensure that employees know what the organization’s bullying policy is and who in management or HR they should talk to if they have a complaint. 

Left unsettled, bullying in the workplace can lead to emotional distress and reduced productivity. Make sure all managers are equipped to handle bullying in their departments by providing bullying prevention training.

Preventing Workplace Bullying: How to Recognize and Respond to Bullies at Work depicts common bullying situations in a manner that encourages rich discussion. The accompanying Manager’s Module gives leaders additional instruction on bullying behaviors and the damage they cause. Leaders are taught to address bullying when they observe it and – because workplace bullies are frequently in a supervisory or management role – they are given a checklist of things that let them evaluate their own behaviors.

Visit CRM Learning’s website to learn more about management training topics and how they can help your company.

Infographic: Don’t Get So Defensive!

Sunday, May 15th, 2016

We’ve all witnessed (or experienced) defensiveness in the workplace.

Person 1 takes Person 2’s  comments the wrong way and — perceiving he is under attack — issues a counterattack.  Person 2  feels hurt or threatened by Person 1’s response and says something negative back. Additional counterattacks are exchanged as the individuals become increasingly determined to defend themselves and justify their actions.

Don't Get So Defensive Infographic

CRM’s classic communication tutorial Communicating Non-Defensively: Don’t Take it Personally explains what can make people defensive while demonstrating practical communication skills for nipping it in the bud.

We’ve summarized some of the content in this infographic (opens a PDF). We hope you find it useful.

How Can Emotional Intelligence Videos Improve My Team?

Friday, May 6th, 2016

ei_aluminum04When they think about building team effectiveness, most people don’t think of Emotional Intelligence (or “EI”) training because EI training typically focuses on the individual not the group. But, increasing the emotional intelligence of individual team members will ultimately improve a group’s effectiveness and enable them to use the power of emotion in their pursuit of organizational goals.

As humans, we all have our “blind spots” at work—areas where we over-react, or repeatedly make the same mistakes when dealing with certain co-workers or situations. In a team setting, these disruptive behaviors can undermine trust, respect and collaboration.

By helping team members develop the 5 Emotional Intelligence Competencies, you can build a cohesive team that works together and is less likely to fall prey to dysfunction. These five competencies are Self-Awareness, Self-Regulation, Self-Motivation, Empathy, and Effective Relationships.   

The basic premise of EI Training is that people can change.  Employees can develop these competencies and become:

  • more self-aware (and have a better sense of their “blind spots” and what to do about them). 
  • better able to regulate their emotions, specifically learning how to cool down in times of anger and frustration instead of venting or taking it out on others.   
  • inspired to use the positive aspects of emotion to remain motivated… especially in the face of setbacks or challenges
  • more empathic towards others
  • more successful at building positive, respectful workplace relationship

With the help our Emotional Intelligence videos provide, you can create a more pleasant, safe and collaborative work environment for your entire organization.

More About Our Emotional Intelligence Videos and How They Can Help Your Team

The Emotional Intelligence Series contains 3 different videos that cover the understanding and demonstration of emotional intelligence as well as how it leads to optimal performance on the job. Host Daniel Goleman explains the science behind emotional intelligence and introduces scenarios that illustrate how improvements in the area of emotional intelligence impact employee well-being and overall organizational communication. The 3-part series is a perfect EI “how-to”course .

So, if you are noticing a dip in team productivity or an increase in emotional outbursts at your organization, the Emotional Intelligence Series, along with our overview video Emotional Intelligence, can help. Use them to fix common issues associated with negative emotions and to enable people to tap into the energy of positive emotions.

Visit CRM Learning for more training videos on interpersonal skills and other topics designed to increase productivity and create a better work environment. 

3 Examples of How the Abilene Paradox Impacts Workplace Decision-Making

Wednesday, October 21st, 2015

If you’ve read our article How The Abilene Paradox Video Improves Team Decision Making, you know that an inability to manage agreement can have a severely negative impact on a group’s ability to make decisions effectively.Abilene Paradox video image There are many different ways this paradox impacts decision-making: here are three that stand out the most.

  1. The Abilene Paradox Creates an Atmosphere Where People are Afraid to Speak Freely: A group “goes to Abilene” when a member of the team proposes an action and no one takes a stand against it. While individual members of the team may believe that the plan is not sound, their fear of possible negative consequences if they oppose the plan, or their desire to maintain group harmony, keeps them from voicing their true opinion. Instead of mutual accountability and honest communication, the team begins acting on inaccurate data or “false consensus”. The person who originally made the suggestion may not even believe it is the best choice, but if no one is willing to give a differing the opinion, a poor decision will be made.
  2. A Group Going to Abilene Won’t Evaluate Alternative Choices: A group going to Abilene is less likely to evaluate alternative choices when making a decision. Effective decision making requires this type of thorough investigation. When team members don’t voice concerns or opposition to an idea with which they disagree, the decision will likely be given the green-light and other (perhaps better) options will not be presented.
  3. Potential Problems are Not Identified: When a group goes to Abilene, it does not engage in a rigorous discussion of a decision’s potential downsides. Instead, group members simply agree to go along with the suggestion, regardless of its merits. When a decision is made without being tested, problems are bound to come up. Groups that can productively debate a decision are much more likely to identify potential issues before they occur, allowing them to think of contingencies instead of being blindsided further down the road.

Avoiding the Abilene Paradox

Recognizing when your group has fallen prey to the Abilene Paradox, and addressing it before any final decisions are made, can dramatically improve your business’s decision-making process. Look through our previous article on the Abilene Paradox for more details about how to recognize it in your workplace, and what to do to put an end to it.

Recommended Training Resource

“The Abilene Paradox” is a bestselling video that uses the story of a family domino game to demonstrate how problems with group decision making can stem from agreement. Use it to build skills in preventing false consensus, improving group decisions, and overcoming fear of speaking out.

Conversation with a Purpose

Wednesday, October 7th, 2015

rick-harry_smGuest Post by Sondra Thiederman, Ph.D.

I confess – I pilfered the title of this article from a man who was renowned as a wise and insightful pathfinder in the field of diversity, Dr. Roosevelt Thomas. A sample of that wisdom is seen in his statement, “Dialogue is conversation with a purpose.” In essence, he is saying that, in order to have real dialogue, we need to know what we want to accomplish during the conversation – we need to set a goal.

Let’s face it, goal setting is important in any aspect of life. If, for example, we dream of a trip to Paris, but neglect to set a goal of saving the amount of money required, the chances of us ever dining at the top of the Eiffel Tower are pretty slim. That’s because we will spend small amounts on other things along the way and get off track.

The same principle applies to conversation. If we don’t know what we want to accomplish, we won’t make the word and attitude choices that will get us to that goal. It is especially likely that we will get off track if we have a strong emotion associated with the interaction. Here are a couple of examples of what I’m talking about along with the kinds of productive goals you might set for each incident.

Example 1: You have been offended by what someone has said or done.
Possible Goals:
A. To embarrass the person and make him or her feel guilty
B. To educate the person about your point of view

As tempting as option “A” might be (let’s be honest, “guilt-tripping” is sometimes tinged with a perverse personal satisfaction), the most productive answer is “B.” Guilt is, after all, rarely a good motivator of change. Your act of trying to make the other person feel guilty will accomplish little more than making them defensive and, in turn, become utterly unable to listen to what you have to say.

Example 2: You have made a clumsy or ignorant remark that you think might have offended someone around you.
Possible Goals:
A. To show respect for your colleagues by calling attention to what you did and apologizing.
B. To minimize the importance and impact of what you said by ignoring it.

The goal here is “A.” The very fact that you are willing to take responsibility for your error shows, not only that you want to communicate respect, but that you are prepared to model truly inclusive behavior.

To return to Dr. Thomas – “Dialogue is conversation with a purpose.” I think he would agree that, if we don’t know where we are going – whether it be in conversation or in life — we just might end up someplace we’d rather not be.

This article is excerpted from the video program, Gateways to Inclusion: Turning Tense Moments Into Productive Conversations, which features Sondra and a variety of vignettes depicting these concepts.

Sondra Thiederman can be contacted for webinars or in-person presentations. For additional information, go to http://thiederman.com

© copyright 2013 Sondra Thiederman, Ph.D.

 

 

 


 

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