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How to deal with collaborations that create unnecessary conflict

Study guide




Disagreements among colleagues are not necessarily a bad thing. However, we must be wary of unhealthy conflicts that waste our valuable time and energy and destroy trust between colleagues. These types of animosities usually arise when there is a “Conflict Entrepreneur” in the group; That is, someone who creates conflict for his personal purposes. Of course, by doing things, we can identify these people and reduce the negative impact of their actions. In the following, we describe the relationship between people who cause conflict and conflict in the workplace and ways to deal with these people.

The Relationship Between Workplace Conflict and Conflict-Creating People

Conflict in the workplace comes in many forms. Positive conflict is a healthy conflict that makes us a better individual and community. Most organizations need positive engagement. However, sometimes the conflict becomes destructive and harmful, and pits friends and partners against each other and distorts reality. This is what is called “High Conflict”; A conflict that becomes very intense and uncontrollable and ultimately puts everyone in a bad situation.

What causes high conflict? What all the above conflicts have in common is the presence of conflicting people. Among the various personalities you encounter in the workplace, some people create conflicts for their personal goals. Sometimes their goal is personal gain, and sometimes their goal is to gain attention and power. They do not exist in all organizations, but are more present in some workplaces, such as hospitals, universities, and political or advocacy organizations.

Examples of people in conflict

Imagine that one of your co-workers sends critical emails in multiple versions at the same time to co-workers who are mostly in higher categories and the subject of the email has nothing to do with them or spreads rumors and lies about the company and its executives on social media. Usually these people do not do this only once or twice, but repeat it over and over again.

Usually the first thing that comes to mind is to distance ourselves from these people. But what if we can not get away from this person? What if we have to work with him because we are both in the same group, his manager or he is our boss? In this case, ignoring this person will not solve the problem. They know well how to attract others to achieve their goals. They tell compelling and emotional stories about how a co-worker has been disrespected and abused, causing co-workers to doubt each other, to distance themselves from each other, and to weaken each other, and the problem soon spreads.

  • Talking to the person causing the conflict

It is also not wise to talk to the person in conflict. “Talking to them makes things worse,” says Bill Eddy, a lawyer and mediator who specializes in dealing with people in conflict. “It does not motivate change and it intensifies the conflict.” Dismissing or distancing yourself from these employees is sometimes helpful and sometimes makes things worse.

A few years ago, an experienced manager at a small technology company first encountered a person with a conflict. The problem started in a regular meeting when an employee asked why others had been promoted. Of course, this was not just a question, but a complaint. “This person was aggressive and militant from the beginning and I was surprised,” the manager said. “There was no reason for him to accept his profession, and he spoke mostly on the basis of black-and-white thinking.”

At first, the manager thought that the employee was just upset about something and that everything would be all right. However, the clerk read the shared calendars and asked why some people were invited to the meetings and others were not. He then misinformed the new employees about the company’s decisions and encouraged others to complain and protest. Company executives could not respond. They hid their calendars and tried to disprove the rumors. They also considered firing the employee, but feared he would sue them if fired. “We have no energy or desire to work with the people who do this,” the company manager told me. “We are really tired.”

What to do about people in conflict?

So what to do? Lawyers, therapists and Conflict Mediators who deal with people in conflict say that we should take special action against common sense; Actions that are the opposite of our instinct. We must also be careful in doing these things.

1. Identify the perpetrators quickly

We must first know how to identify the perpetrators. Don’t forget that anyone can criticize, oppose us, go to the HR department, file a complaint, lead the union-organization effort and collect signatures, without causing conflict.

To know the person causing the conflict, we must pay attention to how that person always plays a role in the conflict. Is there a recurring pattern of poor performance, extreme behavior, and constant blame? These people quickly accuse others, eagerly endorse others’ grievances, and make new false claims that no one else has thought of. They are interested in rumors and conspiracy theories and divide the world into good and evil.

Once you have identified the person causing the potential conflict, avoid the temptation to misrepresent him or her in the eyes of others (or even in your own mind). It may be hard work; But the very idea that he is different from us causes a great deal of conflict. Marshall Shelley, author of Well-Intentioned Dragons, a book on church conflict management, puts it this way: “When a dragon attacks you, do not become a dragon.”

The person in conflict may have unresolved psychological traumas in the past, such as neglect, abuse, and violence. Try to cultivate compassion and compassion; Although it is a difficult task. Remember that we all have the ability to act like conflict-makers.

2. Spend more time with them

“If they’re 90% of the conflict, talk to the other 10%,” says mediator and lawyer Gary Friedman. Listen empathetically and try to understand them, not completely, but enough to communicate effectively. “This person may have a lot of ideas that I do not agree with, but first and foremost, everyone wants to be heard, and that’s what listening to them are,” says a Turnaround Specialist who works with low-performing organizations. “There is an opportunity.”

In one of his mediations, he took the manager (who was a troublemaker) and the manager’s worst rival and enemy to a restaurant outside. He asked both of them to name some common values ​​for future interaction (such as respect). They then named behaviors that could show these values ​​(greet each other with kind words) or undermine them (sending emails to undermine each other).

They also agreed on what to do if those values ​​were violated. After 3 hours, the two opposing parties were drinking in the restaurant. They were still opposed to each other; But the deeper values ​​that mattered most to them were accepted and protected, and they could now have a better relationship.

3. Direct their energy in another direction

In her book, A Savage Order on Global Conflict, Rachel Kleinfeld describes how countries find a way out of local violence. Usually the first step that governments take is to bargain with the warlords and give political power to the long-lasting peace-makers. The purpose of these “dirty deals” is to buy time so that reformers can reduce corruption and other systemic problems. It is true that this is gambling; But ignoring conflict-makers may be more dangerous.

In the company, this can mean directing the energy of the person involved in the productive and productive work; Something that is important to both of you. Give them a choice, not an order. According to Eddie, who works with people with high levels of conflict, professional coaching is usually a good option. “Focus on the future,” he says.

Megan Hunter has conducted dozens of coaching and mediation courses for companies that have been highly controversial (and co-authored several books with Eddie). In one of the most critical cases, which could have led to the bankruptcy of a large family business, Hunter asked family members who were at loggerheads to work together to write a mission statement.

They have never done this before. The effect of this was astonishing even to Hunter himself. “This was the first time they were in a room without insulting each other and one of them angrily left the room,” Hunter said. “They were very proud of the mission statement they wrote.” This method is not always effective, he says; But changing the direction of people’s energy is worth a try. “Ask them to decide together, instead of shouting at each other.”

4. Create a culture of positive engagement

Healthy and positive differences and conflicts are beneficial for the development of the individual and the company

The best defense is to improve organizational culture and create a culture of positive conflict and disagreement; Conflict in which the question is asked, honest disagreement is encouraged, and everyone is treated with courtesy. However, positive conflict does not happen spontaneously, but requires etiquette, boundaries, and ways to accept and avoid tension. This means creating rules for interaction that everyone agrees with.

In his 25 years as CEO of Able Aerospace in Arizona, Lee Benson has found that he and his colleagues were able to turn about 2 out of 3 conflicting individuals into ordinary people by developing a simple and common way to define acceptable behavior and behavior. کردن. “When everyone knows the rules of interaction, they can not ignore it,” he told me. They want to be part of the group; “So they change.”

Examples of positive conflict and conflict patterns in different organizations

  1. Have a suggested solution;
  2. Target problems, not people;
  3. Do not engage in backbiting or gossip or anonymous attacks;
  4. In any disagreement, ask lots of questions out of genuine curiosity;
  5. Find a trusted mediator who can facilitate more difficult conversations if necessary;
  6. Even if you still disagree, retell what you heard to determine if you understood correctly;
  7. For every negative reaction, have at least three positive attitudes. If possible, do it in person, because it is more difficult to mistreat someone who has done good to someone;
  8. If you have a problem, talk to someone you have a problem with first (unless the problem is illegal, abusive, or dangerous). Do this in person or by phone and never use any written communication methods;
  9. Show and reward good conflict publicly and repeatedly. Describe positive conflict situations when hiring new employees, especially when low-level employees ask tough questions of their managers without insulting (or insulting) their managers.

Concluding remarks

Disagreement and criticism in the workplace is a natural issue and not everyone agrees. Our goal is not to prevent conflict, but to create a good environment for conflict. We must work to establish the customs and rules of positive conflict. Healthy conflicts and disagreements lead to the betterment of us and the company as a whole.

what is your opinion?

Have you ever dealt with people who are looking for discord and conflict? What method did you use against them? Do you think the methods suggested in this article work or do not work in our society and culture? We are happy for you to share your opinions and experiences with us.

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