75% of managers polled – recently told us that conflict in their organization is negatively impacting productivity. This poll was from a recent presentation from Guy Harris of the Recovering Engineer.
In Guy’s presentation, he described how unresolved conflict kills your team. It leads to:
1. Poor decision making
2. Poor employee engagement
4. Lost time
5. Poor information flow
The good news is – it doesn’t have to be this way. Harris described a 5-step plan to resolve conflict in your workplace.
1) Shift to the Future
Talking about the past focuses on blame and fault‐finding. It creates a feeling of powerlessness. We all want to learn from the past – but do not live there.
Shifting to the future creates a focus on solutions and positive actions. We want to move the conversation to what each person will do in the future – using the power of AND.
We have all been in that conversation when we can hear from the tone – that the other person is waiting to “drop their BUT.” For example – “I like what you were doing – BUT”… Replace the BUT with AND. For example “I like what you were doing – AND” It is more inclusive and decreases defensiveness.
2. Speak assertively
When we are passive – we allow others to step on us. When we are too aggressive – we wind up stepping on others. When we are assertive – both sides are protected – creating a safer environment to have productive discussions. These discussions are then built on unqualified or unconditional respect.
One way to do this is to note behavior without labeling. An example of labeling would be to call someone “rude.” An alternative way to approach this would be to say “When you _____ , I felt/heard/understood _____.”
3. Appropriate apology
When we apologize, we remove the threat by accepting ownership and removing blame. This creates a safer environment – where discussion can happen in a more candid way
We want to express our emotions without blaming. It is important to own what is ours – but do not take what is theirs. It is good to apologize for our words and actions and avoid apologizing for their feelings.
4. Relieve the pressure
People have a strong need to be heard and understood. When people say what they are thinking or feeling they often feel less threatened.
It is good to allow the other person to vent and get their ideas on the table. Follow-up questions like “Is there anything else on your mind” – can be very helpful to show that you are sincere about listening to them.
5. Acknowledge their perspective
Acknowledging does not mean that you are agreeing. It does show that you are listening. It removes the threat by showing that you understand how or what they think or feel.
A good example of how to do this is – “It sounds like you are feeling ____. You know, if I were you, I would feel the same way.”
Not all conflict is bad. Bad conflict focuses on the past, people, division and polarization. Good conflict focuses on the future, issues and problem solving.
By using the 5-step method you can effectively deal with good conflict – creating a healthier more productive environment.