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Posts Tagged ‘conflict’

Hostile Emails at Work

Tuesday, October 28th, 2014

Emailing in Business CommunicationIt’s a common, maddening occurrence: You innocently open an email from a colleague, customer or boss only to suddenly feel ambushed by its contents. The sender blames you for a problem you didn’t create, unfairly accuses you of sabotaging a project, or negatively interprets something you said. Even worse, he or she cc’s the email to your superiors.

As you stare at the offensive message, your vision blurs. You feel blood rushing to your face. Your heart beats faster. Your stomach drops. Your strongest impulse is to render justice by striking back.

Though it’s hard to remember, you do have a choice in that moment. You can either react out of anger, and fire back a harsh retort, or you can close the infuriating email, and calm down.

Which do you do? Our survey reveals that the usual response is to get ticked off, and retaliate. You then get into a battle with that person that can last for weeks at a time.

Opportunities to take offense in the world of email are high. Email is a form of communication without buffers, interpreters or pauses. The cc mechanism lends itself to either “tattling” on your co-workers or being told on to your supervisors.

But if your goal is to resolve workplace conflicts without hurting your reputation, reacting in anger doesn’t work. Why? Because you’re likely to send your first (and worst) thoughts to the recipient. Angry email responses injure the relationship, and damage your credibility.

The first thing to do when an email makes your blood boil is to calm yourself down. Draft files were created to hold (and filter) our angry e-bursts. Why is it that so few people are able to answer hostile emails in a cool and professional way? Because the temptation to immediately “fire back” an email when you think you’ve been attacked is very strong.

The next time someone sends an e-missle your way, take whatever steps you can to cool down before responding. We recommend: closing the email, getting up from your desk, stretching, taking a few deep breaths, splashing water on your face, or walking around your office floor to collect your thoughts. If you can cool off, you’ll have a much better chance of responding in a calmer, more professional, more effective way.

By Kathi Elster and Katherine Crowley. Used with permission. Visit their website: http://www.ksquaredenterprises.com/

Need help in this area? Working With You is Killing Me, hosted by Kathi Elster and Katherine Crowley, provides the antidote to becoming “hooked” by a toxic co-worker, showing exactly how to take responsibility for addressing the problem and put a stop to it all.

Conquer Team Dysfunction

Monday, August 12th, 2013

Learning to Deal with a Dysfunctional TeamLike it or not, all teams are potentially dysfunctional. This is inevitable because they are made up of fallible, imperfect human beings. From the basketball court to the executive suite, politics and confusion are more the rule than the exception. However, facing dysfunction and focusing on teamwork is particularly critical at the top of an organization because the executive team sets the tone for how all employees work with one another.

A former client, the founder of a billion dollar company, best expressed the power of teamwork when he once told me, “If you could get all the people in the organization rowing in the same direction, you could dominate any industry, in any market, against any  competition, at any time.”

Whenever I repeat this adage to a group of leaders, they immediately nod their heads, but in a desperate sort of way. They seem to grasp the truth of it while simultaneously surrendering to the impossibility of actually making it happen.

Fortunately, there is hope. Counter to conventional wisdom, the causes of dysfunction are both identifiable and curable. However, they don’t die easily. Making a team functional and cohesive requires levels of courage and discipline that many groups cannot seem to muster. (more…)

The Decision to Get Involved – 4 Things to Consider

Sunday, June 16th, 2013

Conflict Management TrainingConflicts occur in our workplace daily.  And when they do, the conflict rarely impacts just the two people involved. The question is—when is it appropriate for a third party to intervene?  It’s always best for the two people to work the conflict out on their own, but sometimes they simply can’t…or won’t.

Anyone who begins to try to help other people in a conflict situation must first come to grips with their own internal conflict about whether or not to intervene. These factors have proven to be important indicators as to the appropriateness of intervening. (more…)

Free Activity: Deep Breaths

Tuesday, November 29th, 2011

Disagreement is not something to be avoided; a definite advantage in diverse workforces is, in fact, diversity of opinions and perspectives. Yet discussions that include disagreement require a bit of extra care. If not respectfully managed, these conversations can easily create tensions that become non-productive and have effects far past the initiating conversation.

(more…)

Bullies at Work

Tuesday, March 15th, 2011

Workplace bullying is a growing international problem. It is more than a one-time incident. It is a pattern of behavior between a bully and another worker which can demoralize, isolate and trigger illness in the target of the bully. What is bullying? Who does it? Is it increasing? What can you do to protect yourself? And what can employers do to promote a safe environment for employees? This short article attempts to answer some of these key questions. (more…)

Civility At Work

Friday, January 14th, 2011

20 Ways to Build a Kinder Workplace

by Tom Terez

It’s not always easy being nice. There are deadlines to meet, conflicts to settle, resources to share, promotions to snag — all of which can pit people against each other. What to do? Here are 20 practical ideas. If you believe that workplaces work better when people get along, scan this list and start living it. (more…)

Calming Yourself Down – The Key to Not Making Matters Worse

Monday, September 20th, 2010

On the surface, organizations are about making money, delivering goods and services, and producing results. Scratch the surface of any organization, though, and you uncover a hotbed of emotions: people feeling anxious about performance, angry with co-workers, and misunderstood by management. Leaders are burnt out and workers are buried in resentment. Because many organizations call for unemotional behavior, individual feelings are often suppressed. Workers think their only options are to suck it up or quit.

People want to be productive and happy at work, but instead feel emotionally trapped. We have all had experiences with co-workers who drive us crazy. We get drawn into their personal problems, bad work habits, and irritating behaviors.

These situations drain our souls and harm our organizations, because the strength of an organization is in its employees. When there are problems in the workplace, it will affect the bottom line sooner or later.

What are some of the outcomes or consequences of unhealthy relationships at work?

• Employees don’t enjoy going to work

• People feel overwhelmed or disrespected on the job

• Tardiness, absenteeism, sick leave

• Reduced productivity or work quality

• Mental replay of conversations or interactions; inability to “get over it”

• Fatigue, illness, exhaustion

• Headaches, tension, stress

While handling workplace conflict is a multifaceted process, the first step you should take when you become frustrated – BEFORE you address the other person – is to calm down physically.

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 doesn’t have to be a 30-minute run – any type of physical movement can help you relax and think. Taking a physical break can often defuse your frustration and put you in a better position to think about the situation.

As an example, think about a time when you attended a meeting and something was said that upset you. What was your response? Did you become angry and then “check out” mentally? That’s a coping mechanism, but not one that offers you control. Deep breathing to calm yourself and release a little anger can help you check back into the meeting and respond objectively. Some other ideas for helping you physically calm down before dealing with a workplace conflict:

• Deep breathing

• Walk the hallway

• Step outside and enjoy the weather

• Splash cold water on your face

• Count to ten

Once you have gained control of your body and mind, you can more clearly think about the conflict situation and how to address your concerns with the other person.

Excerpted from the Leader’s Guide to the video program Working With You is Killing Me.

Training Resource: Working With You is Killing Me offers practical advice on how to “unhook” from emotional traps at work and save yourself from needless stress.

Activity: From Conflict to Collaboration

Friday, September 17th, 2010

In solving conflicts, one of the best things you can do is to strive for collaboration. When collaborating, each person in the conflict works to uncover the other person’s underlying concerns so that everyone understands what is really behind the conflict and the resolution can address most (if not all) of both parties’ concerns.

Common communication tools used in collaboration are: active listening, questioning that reveals a willingness to understand (such as “What is it about this situation that bothers you the most?”), expressing your own concerns without being overly emotional, sticking to the issue at hand and taking responsibility for your role in the conflict.

Here is a quick role play activity you can use to help people practice using collaboration as a conflict resolution method.

Group Activity: Collaborating (35 minutes)

1) Before the exercise, prepare envelopes for each pair of participants. On the outside of the envelope, write a conflict situation that could conceivably occur within an organization (or within your organization, specifically). Inside the envelope, place two slips of paper. On Slip #1, list a job description for Employee #1, as well as an underlying concern for them in the conflict. On Slip #2, list a job description for Employee #2, as well as an underlying concern for them in the conflict.

2) Remind the participants that the skills of active listening and open communication play a key role in helping to uncover underlying concerns in a conflict.

3) State that the goal of the role playing exercise is to get the other party to move past his or her position, and into collaboration. To achieve that, they will need to discover the concerns that are fueling the conflict.

4) Ask the participants to pair up for the role playing exercise. Then pass out the envelopes that you have prepared ahead of the session. Before they begin, ask them to reflect on their positions. They should think about the level of assertiveness they need to bring in defending their position and how willing they will be to cooperate when it comes to meeting the other person’s needs.

5) Have the group begin the role playing exercise. Set a time limit of 15 minutes.

6) After the role playing is completed, ask the group to discuss their experiences. Were they able to identify the position of the other party? Were they able to reveal the underlying concerns? How? Were they successful in moving toward a collaboration? Why or why not?

Excerpted from the Leader’s Guide for the CRM Learning video, Dealing With Conflict.

Training Resource: Dealing with Conflict shows why “collaboration” – which includes getting to the heart of what’s most important to the other party — is typically your best conflict resolution strategy.

10 Workplace Peeves

Monday, November 16th, 2009

In today’s workplace, there are certain situations and behaviors that some people see as disruptive and just plain annoying…and, if ignored, can turn into bigger conflicts.  Here are 10 of the most common (in no particular order):

1. Ringing cell phones
2. Conducting personal business over the phone, loudly enough for co-workers to hear
3. Whiny co-workers (especially those who complain about everything but are never willing to do anything to change things)
4. Checking voicemail with the “speaker phone” turned on (especially if you work in a cubicle)
5. Loud talkers
6. Wearing too much fragrance (cologne or perfume)
7. People who barge in, or interrupt, when it’s clear you are busy
8. Being “cc’d” on emails that don’t really involve you
9. People who use off-color language
10. Co-workers who: leave an empty coffee pot, neglect to refill the paper tray, use the last paper towel and walk away, etc.

The people who create these situations or act in this way usually don’t even know they’re bothering people. And the people who are negatively impacted by the behaviors are usually reluctant to do anything about it. But left unchecked, tensions can build over time.

Here’s a simple way you, as a leader or trainer, can get seemingly minor workplace annoyances out in the open and keep them from turning into full-fledged conflicts.

1) Add any other potential annoyances you can think of to the list above and send it to your staff. Ask people to identify the ones that bother them the most.

2) Tally the results and use the findings to illustrate how an action that didn’t bother some people, really bothered others. Use this as an illustration of workplace diversity and respect, and request that people accept and acknowledge everyone’s differences.

3) If you like, gather your team together in person to further discuss the results. You may wish to ask the following questions and/or make the following points:

  • •  What are some signs (body language, verbal cues, nonverbal cues, behavior) that might indicate someone at work is bothered by something you are doing?
  • •  What can you do to be more considerate of people even when you see a situation differently than they do?
  • •  How do you feel when someone is thoughtful and considerate toward you?
  • •  Sometimes you’re not aware of what bothers someone else. Don’t be afraid to ask someone if they’re bothered. Be more aware of behaviors that might clue you in.
  • •  Consider situations that really bother some people but don’t bother you at all. These differences of opinion are a sign of diversity. Being considerate is about being more accepting of other people’s differences.
  • •  Remember—the workplace is a shared environment. Everyone has the same rights as everyone else. If we work at being thoughtful and considerate to everyone at work, we will do our job better and be more productive and more successful.

4) Pick 3 of the behaviors your group identified as most annoying and gain everyone’s commitment not to do these things for a week. Follow-up to see if the behaviors have been curtailed.

Taken, in part, from the Leader’s Guide for the CRM Learning program, Start Right…Stay Right.

Need help in this area? Our comprehensive Start Right…Stay Right training program lets you train on 24 success behaviors, including “Be Considerate”.
  


 

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