Conflicts happen in all workplaces, are inevitable, generally dramatic, are stereotypically painful, are often the road to failure if you don’t know how to manage them. However, contrary to common belief, they are most of the times milestones to success.
Conflicts are incompatibilities and interference between two different parties ideas, desires, goals, interests, values and principles, events and activities.
Conflict management or conflict competence is a learnable skill that should be developed by all leaders throughout their career. Conflicts are consequential, frequent and inevitable but are necessary. They occur whether an employee is expressing a dissenting view, resisting change, or whether the leader is correcting an existing problem, fighting complacency and group-thinking.
Leaders that poorly manage conflict are faced with unfortunate lawsuits, grievances, violence, employee absenteeism, employee defection, poor performance, ineffective decisions, deteriorated working relationships, distrust and other negative behaviors, attacks on reputation and careers, a toxic company culture.
As a result, poorly managed conflicts are costly for organizations that have to sometimes hire new employees, take time to train new members, bring in paid third-party to mediate disagreements.
However, the benefits of appropriate conflict management are endless. In order to approach conflict in a productive manner, it is necessary to understand that:
- differences in points of views generate innovative solutions and breakthroughs,
- dissenting thinking allow to make higher quality decisions,
- creativity is stimulated among the team,
- social relationships are subsequently improved,
- transparency and open communication are promoted,
- the work environment becomes more collaborative, and the company culture healthier,
- more opportunities surface,
- and most importantly, people within the organization might need help or mediation during conflict.
Addressing conflicts effectively
In the workplace, conflicts generally stems from differences of control, power and influence between the leader and his or her employees. Conflicts also come from discrepancies in culture, background, monetary.
There are several steps, that you can take to understand and manage conflicts constructively, you must:
- First understand yourself. What are your strengths, weaknesses, blindspots? How do you interact with different people with different backgrounds? How do you cause conflicts?
- Identify your conflict style. There are five different conflict styles, explaining the manner in which people attempt to meet their needs while showing interest in meeting other people needs during a conflict:
- The competitive conflict style is aggressive, seeks to win, gain control, disregards other people needs and generally heightens conflicts.
- The cooperative conflict style is defined by a need to reach a common goal using and consensus, to collaborate and to offer innovate ideas to resolve an issue. This style is representative of a healthy work culture.
- The compromising conflict style is defined by a unsatisfying willingness to meet the other party half way.
- The accommodating conflict style is obliging, facilitating, diplomatic, describes a desire to put others need and interests before a sole individualistic need in other to preserve relationships. This style is the complete opposite of the competitive style.
- The avoidant conflict style is composed of penned up feelings and of a need to sweep negative interactions and situations under the rug. Therefore, needs go unexpressed and the conflict festers.
- Identify your trigger. To appropriately assess your trigger, attend conflict management classes, get a mentor or a coach, take the Myers-Briggs Assessment Test or the Conflict Dynamics Profile.
- Develop an emergency plan to cool down and desensitize your triggers. Desensitizing your trigger doesn’t mean that a person’s behavior is right or pleasant, it just means understanding the demonstrated behavior and changing your reaction towards it. For example, take a break before responding or jumping to conclusion.
- Learn to control your emotional reaction to conflict. Understand, stay conscious of the strong emotions that come with conflicts then cultivate positive emotions to counteract the negative ones.
- Discipline your thoughts, perceptions and assumptions of other people. The interpretation of someone’s attitude does not necessarily match reality.
- Observe the time frame, the number of times you have to see someone at the office. The less time you spend with coworkers, the less time you will notice their flaws and the less you will harbor negative emotions.
- Learn to discern any conflict driven behavior on the scale of conflict intensity. The intensity level measures the level of discomfort during a dispute:
- At the first level, there is a difference in opinions but there are no discomfort.
- At the second level, misunderstandings sprout: what is understood by someone is different from what is really meant.
- At the third level, disagreements occur: each party understands but disagrees with each other’s opinions, feels discomfort which can lead to damage in the relationship.
- At the fourth level, discord transpires: each party respond to a difference in opinion and there are continual attacks on the relationship.
- At the last and fifth level, each party is polarized, suffers from the conflict, resort to sabotage, criticism, manipulation, etc…
Furthermore, detecting a conflict early will allow to resolve them faster.
How to resolve conflict and create positive outcomes
There are generally two known responses to conflict: “fight or flight” and “retaliatory cycle”.
On on hand, the fight or flight response is a natural response to threats where one either flee from danger or fight it. The choice between fight or flight depends on how someone has been conditioned.
On the other hand, the retaliatory cycle leads to escalation, leads to destructive behaviors that fuel and trigger negative behaviors in each party. In the retaliatory cycle, someone is first triggered by a behavior, then generates in that person an emotional response to this behavior. This emotional response is perceived by others as a threat to their ideas, opinions that in return generate an emotional response. And so on and so forth, the retaliatory cycle is created.
Leaders have to acquire a model behavior during conflicts in the workplace. Leaders encourage positive outcomes by:
- Facing conflicts head on, standing their ground and assuming that conflicts are inevitable, frequent and are just a passing phase.
- Staying calm and composed under pressure.
- Avoiding jumping to conclusions, shifting blame or pointing fingers and relying only on facts.
- Separating the person from the real issue.
- Instilling core values and fair treatment among their followers.
- Encouraging open communication and allowing the other party to speak their truth.
- Demonstrating that they have understood every side of the issue, being empathetic to the conflict partner.
- Suggesting solutions to existing problems thanks to external opinions, historical and innovative ideas.
- Sincerely apologizing to the other person and being able to admit when they were wrong.
How to recover from conflict?
Conflict competence requires that the leader:
- value differences,
- almost immediately detect a conflict before it arises in a tone or in a facial micro-gesture,
- identify positive and negative models of leadership within the organization,
- learn from setbacks and hardships that build character,
- solve other people conflicts and implement a conflict resolution culture.
Dealing with conflict can leave you feeling like you are in a hostile territory but practice makes perfect, and managing conflicts effectively becomes easy with experience.
Hope that I’ve helped you get it together on your way to leadership!
Don’t forget to like, share and leave a comment below.
Quitters are losers! Sometimes, quitters are not lazy nor weak. Quitters have not given up on themselves or on they dream, they know how to leave when the situation is not to their liking. Besides, winners have failed and given up may times before being successful.
I’ll stay if I get paid enough! However, you already have one foot out of the door and no type of incentive can keep you on the job.
Keep your head down and work hard! You will end up doing most of the work, burnt out and not getting recognized for it, not building useful relationships and not finding any meaning in your work.
Try and fit in! You will be acting like someone you are not and consequently be drained from all your energy because the corporate culture should fit your personality and not the other way around.
Your job is not supposed to be fun! No, it’s not but it’s not supposed to deteriorate your health or leave you feeling empty either.
These common expressions usually confine us and unfortunately drive our day-to-day decisions. Dissatisfied employees become toxic employees on the long run. In fact, studies have shown that money and promotions are not the only factor that keep employees on the job.
Wondering why it is important to be satisfied with your job and how to bring meaning to your job?
What is job satisfaction?
Job satisfaction is an employee pleasurable emotional reaction and sense of pride towards the job or towards their experiences on the job.
Job satisfaction is said to increase productivity, goes beyond job conditions, remains both immeasurable and complex. It is composed of intrinsic (pay, promotions, coworkers, supervision, and the nature of the work) as well as extrinsic elements (recognition, working conditions, and company and management).
Employees tend to feel dissatisfied and unmotivated when their job don’t fulfill their individual needs. For some, job satisfaction is translated by a need for meaning, for purpose, for great leadership, for good relationships with coworkers, for cultural adaptation and sensitivity. For others, job satisfaction is expressed by a need for autonomy, for freedom, for recognition, for new challenges that fit their personality or for personal development and training.
Why is job satisfaction important?
Firstly, job satisfaction is an indicator of your psychological health and well-being, rubs off on your work performance, and often spills over to your personal life.
Secondly, job satisfaction is a hard reflection of the corporate culture. The assessment of job satisfaction is done in many organizations during the annual performance review for humanitarian and statistical purposes. Organizations can therefore place employees in the area of their strengths or understand the behaviors of their employees.
Why stay in a job that brings you no joy?
There are five common reasons why people tend to stay in a frustrating job:
- Financial responsibility. People in this case rely heavily on a stable income. Changing jobs and choosing a fulfilling career doesn’t mean leaving the life of a broke artists or taking a lower paid job. It requires forward planning, saving and preparation.
- Employee retention programs. In certain organization, retirement and funds programs are specifically designed to retain employees, to reduce training costs and ameliorate their statistics.
- Misplaced loyalty towards the organization. Employees with misplaced loyalty are not willing to compromise their years of service to the organization and leave for a much more fulfilling career. I see this behavior mostly in leaders, who have extreme responsibilities and who refuse to let a disappointing job go. Just know this: no matter how long you have worked for an organization, they have no sense of commitment towards their employees and employees shouldn’t have towards them either.
- Fear of change. Most people stay in an unfulfilling job because they fear the unknown and are overly cautious. Job satisfaction is about not being complacent and going after what you really want.
- Pessimism or fear of failure. Some employees believe that there isn’t better career options out there, believe that it will get worse that it actually is or that they will fail. it is necessary for these employees to broaden their scope and evaluate their options with exterior help.
How to find satisfaction or meaning on your job?
When there isn’t any satisfaction on your job, we tend to lose motivation and begin to burn out. The cost of staying in a job you hate is greater than pursuing something that brings you joy. In order to bring job satisfaction or find a fulfilling career:
- Recognize that time is short. You don’t have the luxury of doing something you hate all the days of your life.
- Know yourself well, identify your motivations, strengths and weaknesses to know whether or not you will thrive in the occupation that you have chosen, to find a job that is aligned with your values and principles. Then, find out what you do best with the least amount of effort, a hobby or passion and create a way to make money out of it.
- Gain the necessary skills for your new career. Don’t hesitate to take the initiative, get training and lead yourself towards your real aspirations.
- Ensure that you have multiple streams of income and are not bound to any job for a paycheck. Diversify with income-creative activities that you enjoy and don’t take up all your time.
- Explore different career paths by getting out of your comfort zone, ask new questions, renew your skills, activate your sense of discovery, trust yourself and listen to your inner voice, take a class, go on a retreat, broaden your perspective.
- Get realistic information and job descriptions, expected behaviors from employees in order to clarify their roles within the organization.
- Align your expectations of the job with reality. Recognize the impact of your work on yourself, your family and friends, and your community and take note of the discrepancies between your efforts and the rewards.
- Build a social life but avoid comparing yourself to others.
- Assess the time you need away from people and away from work to recharge your batteries.
- Every day remind yourself of your purpose and do it everyday. Stay in the present and trust the future. Persevere and stay committed, advance toward new opportunities and challenges.
- Last but not least, learn to say no.
Hope that I’ve helped you get it together on your way to leadership!
Don’t forget to like, share and leave a comment below.
The Sunshine Blogger Award is given to bloggers by bloggers. It is used to highlight bloggers that are positive, creative, inspiring and bring sunshine into the lives of their readers.
I am grateful to be nominated by Parler d’Expresso for the Sunshine Blogger Award, along side with 9 other blogs. Parler d’Expresso is a great lifestyle blog, where Freddy shares his raw opinion on various topics. It is uncommon for career advice blogs to be nominated, so I am willing to indulge.
How does it work?
1. Thank the person that nominated you and post a link to their blog on your blog
2. Answer the questions from the person that nominated you
3. Nominate some other bloggers for this award and give them questions to answer too
4. Notify the bloggers you have nominated
5. List the rules and display the Sunshine Blogger Award logo
Lets get to know each other better…
What made you start blogging?
For my first leadership job, straight out of college, I had no clues of what I was doing. So, I started reading books on self-assessment and self-development. Most importantly, I started taking notes of these books and applying them on a regular basis on my job. My blog is a result of what has worked for me so far. Tested and approved.
What inspires you to write?
I want to help recent graduates and people, mostly working in corporate, to acquire great values, to develop their leadership skills and character.
What is your vision in life?
My vision in life is to create an entire brand around my blog.
Who is your role model?
I have several role models that are mostly public figures and public speakers such as
- Lolly Daskal for her professional background,
- Steve Harvey for his candor about his struggles, entrepreneurial spirit and inspirational speeches,
- TD Jakes for his desire to leave a mark, and to inspirit others to pursue their purpose.
I have many more role models but those are the ones that stand out to me right now.
My nominees for the Sunshine Blogger Award are:
And now, here are my questions to you, my nominees:
- Why did you start blogging?
- What is that you like the most about blogging?
- What is your dream job ?
- What’s the most exciting thing you ever done?
- A book that you will definitely recommend?
- How would you describe yourself in three words?
- What’s the best advice anyone ever gave you?
We seldom are perceived the way we see ourselves or the way we want to be perceived. Contrary to popular belief, our facial expressions are not always readable, our emotions are not that obvious and we don’t communicate as much as we think we do.
In No One Understands You and What To Do About It, Heidi Grant Halvorson explains how perceptions are born, describes a set of stereotypes and assumptions that affect how people perceive you, the different ways for correcting bad impressions and for overcoming misunderstandings.
Halvorson considers that there are many heuristics and assumptions that guide our perceptions and therefore create inaccurate interpretations of people:
- Assumption #1: The confirmation bias. Some people look at you and see what they expect to see, taking into account the stereotypes of the groups to which you belong, your culture and their past experiences with you.
- Assumption #2: The primary effect. Other people forme their perceptions of you using their initial impression of you. With this assumption, first impressions are lasting impressions.
- Assumption #3: Stereotypes. Stereotypes are the beliefs about categories of people to “better understand” them.
- Assumption #4: The halo effect. The halo effect is the belief that someone, with one powerful positive trait, has a lot more positive traits.
- Assumption #5: The false-consensus effect. The false-consensus effect is the belief that others think and feel the same way that we do.
The Two Phases of Perception
Heidi Grant Halvorson has identified two phases of perception that exist in every interactions:
- Phase 1 or System 1 is the automatic and effortless ability to recognize strong emotions in someone’s facial expression and voice, to identify, categorize and interpret a given behavior, to attach that given behavior to “some aspect of your personality, character or abilities”. First impressions are made in Phase 1. Perception often stops at Phase 1 and people, being busy, tend to rely heavily on heuristics and assumptions.
- Phase 2 or System 2 is the ability, through complex and effortful mental operations to get a complete and accurate understanding of someone, by taking into account additional factors about you. This effort has to purposefully be motivated by an attention-grabbing circumstance.
Distortion of The Phases of Perception
The level of trust, the possession of power and the size of the ego tend have an impact on these phases of perception. However, these distortions can be averted by understanding the circumstances and the wanted results of each interaction.
The level of trust
Most of the time, people are not just trying to make assumptions about you but are trying to find out unconsciously if they can trust you, especially in the workplace: are you a friend or a foe? The decision to trust is made unconsciously in Phase 1 of perception, and depends on the way that you project warmth and competence.
To increase trust to the people around you:
- Convey warmth indirectly by giving subtle but genuine complements, by providing assistance whenever you can, by showing interest in others feelings and thoughts.
- Demonstrate empathy by acknowledging someone else’s perspective.
- Manifest your trust in people first by being cooperative, talking about your vulnerabilities and challenges.
- Transmit competence by making eye contact while speaking.
- Show will power by showing self-control.
- Avoid overconfidence by showing modesty and restraint.
- Adopt a power pose in order to take up most of the space, to signal your competence.
- Emphasize your potential for greatness and for success.
The possession of power
Having more or less power changes the impressions that we form about one another.
Powerful people tend to be overwhelmed with responsibilities and have no time to spare, are focused on their goals, rely heavily on stereotypes to categorize people, stay stuck in Phase 1 of perception. Also, the sad truth is that powerful people don’t pay much attention to less powerful people.
To get noticed by powerful people and to increase your influence:
- Be instrumental to their success.
- Find out how you can align your objectives with those of the powerful.
- Ease their burden.
- Anticipate their needs and challenges.
- Avoid complementing them because they don’t care.
The size of the ego
Perception is distorted by the size of the ego in such ways that you must come out on top, feeling good about yourself.
Your ego has the purpose of protecting and enhancing your self-esteem. To control the way people perceive you through their ego, you will need to:
- Help people enhance their self-esteem.
- Evaluate the threat that you and your abilities pose to your colleagues.
- Be humble about your accomplishments, past and current difficulties. Avoid tooting your own horn, playing dumb or acting like someone else.
- Affirm other people by praising them and their achievements.
- Avoid stereotyping other people.
The eager reward seekers and the vigilant risk mitigators
The safety and security of our personal situations also poses a threat to our perceptions of people, of our colleagues and of our career.
On one hand, the eager reward seeker looks for opportunities everywhere, are effective, risk takers, rule breakers, adventurers, optimistic, motivated, innovative and often creative. Unfortunately, eager reward seekers are prone to fail and to underestimate problems.
On the other, the vigilant risk mitigators see danger everywhere they go, are vigilant, risk averse, reliable, thorough and deliberate, prone to analytical thinking and self-doubt.
To get the best of both types of people, simply adapt your language to each of them by making one see a potential for gain and the other a cautionary plan.
The clingy, anxious and the aloof, avoidant
The need for closeness shapes our relationship with others.
The clingy and anxious people tend to have low self-esteem, need validation, constantly seek closeness and are worried that the people that they have built a relationship with will leave them, see injuries and slights where there aren’t, fear rejection. To accommodate them, practise empathy, don’t take it personally, clarify your speech, stay reliable to this person.
The aloof and avoidant people don’t foster close relationships but instead maintain emotional distance. To accommodate them, don’t take their behavior personally, restraint your own warmth, give them time to open up.
Correcting bad impressions and fighting misunderstandings
Finally, to correct bad impressions and start over on the right track:
- Expose everyone with attention-getting evidence of the contrary evidence of you so they can notice and cannot deny reality.
- Force people to revisit their opinion of you by making them feel that their judgement is unfair or unequal.
- Make people depend on you and need you to reach their goals.
No One Understands You and What To Do About It by Heidi Grant Halvorson is a great self-development book that explores the prominent reasons why we are often misunderstood and gives useful advice on how to clean up our reputation, to clarify a difficult situation. Every single conclusion that Halvorson draws is scientifically researched and illustrated with probing examples.
This book is intended for people who have made past mistakes with people and want to correct them. It was absolutely hard to read because Halvorson revealed hard truths, reminded me of the stereotypes that pursue me on a daily basis and that keep interfering with my goals, forces me to question myself and my behavior. In addition, this book made me more self-conscious about my presentation to the world and my decisions, more aware that first impressions are critical, that most people don’t think the same way I do, react the same I do, or perceive me the same way I do.
Furthermore, No One Understands You and What To Do About It was also cathartic and purging, helped me become a better judge of others, understand that the way people treated me in the past was not my full responsibility.
Studies show that while very strong, basic emotions—surprise, fear, disgust, and anger—are fairly easy to read, the more subtle emotions we experience on a daily basis are not.
You are never really starting from scratch with another person, even when you are meeting him or her for the first time. The perceiver’s brain is rapidly filling in details about you—many before you have even spoken a word. Knowing this gives you a sense of what you’ve got going for you and what you might be up against. And the more you can know in advance about your perceiver’s likes, dislikes, strengths, and weaknesses, the better equipped you will be to anticipate what’s being projected onto you.
The benefits of projecting trustworthiness (and the costs of failing to do so) are Enormous, particularly in the workplace. Studies show, for instance, that the willingness to share knowledge with colleagues—a sticking point in most large organizations—is strongly predicted by feelings of trust among employees.