Conflict at work: explaining it thoroughly

These colleagues are fed up with me! – Psychiatrist advises how to get out of conflicts at work worthy

First of all, it is worth reconsidering a few common opinions about the conflict, which make the clash unbearable and endless.

  • “Professional conflicts are a necessary evil.” Oops! Let’s take it down a notch. It’s better to look at it another way. Professional conflicts are part of the work process. Completely natural. Conflict simply exists. You don’t have to enjoy it or achieve it, but you don’t have to be dramatic about it either.
  • “We have to defend our point of view!” So … Stop! First of all, even if you do not make your point of view, conflicts can not be avoided. Secondly, it is not necessary to defend your point of view at all. It will change itself. Knowing how to consciously change your point of view is just the way to solve conflicts.
  • “If you lose control of yourself in conflict, you’ve lost everything.” Smile and show your hands. If you notice that you’ve lost control of yourself, that’s when you’ve already got it back! That’s fine, let’s move on.

The problem with most people is that they forget this and they become a follower of one way of responding. They react automatically! Sometimes this helps, but after a while the response becomes so predictable that potential attackers can turn you into a victim with almost no effort.

See if you can identify the way you usually respond to conflict with co-workers. Do you yell? Do you remain silent? Slam the door? Do you complain to your supervisor? Think back to the last conflict you were involved in and analyze how you handled it.

Now let’s see what other ways to resolve conflict exist. First, the three easiest and most understandable.

3 easy ways to deal with conflict

  • Direct confrontation. Repulsion. This is an extreme way. The easiest and most common. In fact, it should be used when all others have been worked out.

Even if you are confronted by a colleague on a very principled issue, you should remain balanced, give specific examples and be as accurate as possible. Even if your colleague resorts to sarcasm, insults, or made-up statistics. Your job is to keep moving forward with the clear intention of settling the dispute and regaining control of the situation.

  • Walking away. Running away from the conflict. Avoiding it. For this method to work, you have to remove pejorative assessments of the “concept of withdrawal.” There is no cowardice or loss of face in walking away. We leave consciously. Without reflection. Usually when our direct confrontation has not ended in reconciliation. Without a game of “well, catch up” or “well, take away.

When you leave, you leave. Yes. We write a statement and leave. This is also a way to end a confrontation when the dialogue in the team built destructively, and to cope with the conflict can not otherwise.

  • Negotiations. You try to understand more deeply the position of a colleague and state your point of view in a friendly way.

If we see that a colleague is misinterpreting real events, we just listen first, without rushing to correct him. The time to correct the mistakes of others has not yet come. Then, when he calms down, or the situation changes, you can invite him to see things differently. But the main condition for successful negotiations is your inner sense of freedom. You have the opportunity to say “yes” and “no”.

And one more thing: after you tell your opponent that you want to work out a compromise, discuss it, look at it from both sides, you have to get two people interested in the compromise.

Negotiation is not the art of giving everything away. It is the art of making mutually acceptable deals, of finding a harmonious resolution to the conflict.

Don’t think of negotiation as a ploy or as a way to trade your fear for peace of mind. Negotiation is a meeting of equals, not a contest of sleight of hand. It should come from a sincere desire to solve a problem. Stay balanced, focus on the problem, not your opponent.

2 harder ways.

Now let’s move on to the more subtle matter of doing nothing and deceiving artfully.

  • Doing nothing. This is not waiting for change. Doing nothing is really doing nothing. Doing nothing is one of the best responses when the attack on you makes no articulated sense, when it is absurd. To enter into an argument is to admit the meaning of baseless accusations.
  • Lies. Only let’s dispense with social assessments. We all lie at least 200 times a day (men even a little more often) to gain acceptance and approval. But here we are talking about a way of dealing with conflict. Sometimes it’s a mild distraction: “Oh, what a tie the chief is wearing today, look! What would that mean?” Sometimes it’s creating a smokescreen. Sometimes it’s a lie of salvation: “Why didn’t you call? – I was late this morning, I forgot my phone at home.”

Invent stories, but don’t deceive yourself. It’s not the ultimate solution, it’s just a way to buy time.

Any of the ways of dealing with conflict is only part of communication. A combination of different modes of behavior helps to placate an aggressive colleague and achieve reconciliation.

Don’t forget to watch your emotions. Aggression, fear, irritation, and resentment help us understand what is going on in and around us, but we shouldn’t let feelings guide our actions. Always look for a way to calm down first, and only then – options for conflict resolution.

80 level

This is the hardest way, the top level.

  • Merge. It means to stop dividing people into strangers and your own.

There are two key points at the heart of the merger.

The first is understanding. Do you understand yourself in a conflict situation? How deeply do you understand a colleague who is in conflict with you?

The second is compassion. Or love, which can reduce people’s pain and distress.

What might this look like in simple actions? Agree with your opponent’s right to feel what he or she feels. You don’t have to agree with what he says or thinks. You only share his feelings. Most likely he is wrong, but in his feelings, in his aggressive behavior, he is sincere. That’s why it’s important to join your attacker to get out of his way. This is not a trick. It’s not a “trick.” It’s understanding the roots and nature of his anger. They may not be work-related at all.

If you understand what hurts your coworker, you’re halfway there. All you need next is love in the form of compassion. And you may not make him happy, but your perception of the situation will change fundamentally.

To myself, after all. Aren’t there more interesting things to do than to maintain conflict with a colleague?

Why do conflicts occur?

The reason for them is often hidden in the struggle for rank in one hierarchy or another.

It is worth knowing that humans differ from all other species of living beings in that they participate in several hierarchical systems at once. And we value only those of them, in which we consider ourselves more significant. That’s why, as scientists have found out, social sophistication means bigger brains.

There is no mathematical task that requires as much effort as the task of finding a place in our social hierarchy.

This is a task the mind solves around the clock. It often does it successfully, but one day a conflict comes along, and our internal standards and attitudes (aka, those very principles) can destroy all the objective benefits that a particular rank provides. That’s how it works.

You always have a choice. If you notice that the situation is hopeless, then the way out is somewhere nearby! And it’s always open.

We develop from scratch your personal course or corporate training for your employees

Office provocateurs: how to work with conflicted employees

The life of an office employee is full of dangers: everywhere you can find smiling wolves in sheep’s clothing, ready to easily and gracefully “eat” colleagues. Even the best negotiators, leaders, “stars” of the company, which can provide it a huge leap in profits, can … destroy the organization from within.

Here is what the owner of one manufacturing company says: “Our BizDev (business development manager – ed.) actually took the business to the international market. No one has ever received as much recognition as she has. But here’s the amazing thing: while she made rare mistakes, she could not admit them. She blamed everything on others, framed them, provoked conflicts. Negotiations regularly exploded loud showdown. As a result, some employees quit.

So what can they be – conflicted employees? Are they uncomfortable “engines of progress” for others or are they bear-climbers who need to be gotten rid of? “I don’t know whether to be happy or sad that at some point the “star” provocateur also left. Now we have a renewed team, not as “star”, but all these three years, the turnover is almost zero “- continues the same owner.

Is there any way to successfully integrate such a person into the team? To emphasize the pros and neutralize the cons? In order to make a decision, you need to assess the situation according to several criteria.

Criterion 1. The goals of the employee

What are the conflicted employee’s main (even if unknowingly) goals? Is the propensity to manipulate and foment conflict just a “side effect” of high performance? Or is the main goal of a person to win power and rewards by any means, even harmful for the company, and to stir up confusion in the team?

Criterion 2. Company Strategy.

To fly up fast, using the creative power of unencumbered by “moral prejudices” Ostap Bender, and after that – the deluge? Or has a decision been made to use a systematic approach, to develop people within the organization and to keep a capable team as a whole?

Criterion 3. Criticality of the Harm Caused

What is the real scale of the negative actions of a conflict instigator? The most dangerous situations arise when a person or group of people:

  • Cheat “big time” or systematically;
  • lead to the deterioration of relations with customers and partners;
  • blackmail;
  • drive people out of the company (or prevent new people from “settling in”);
  • use their authority to fire subordinates on a personal whim;
  • spreading inappropriate rumors.

Here is another story from the company that shows that the problem is often exaggerated: “One of our employees has a nuisance because he regularly negotiates bonuses in the middle of the quarter when others can only get them at the end, tries to shift the work of his department to others and spends a lot of time in the owner’s office. They even vacationed with their families one weekend. The employee has become a favorite, and at times in conversation acts as if the owner is himself. On the other hand, there are few people so devoted to the company, and most importantly, he knows how to make a “helicopter out of nothing. But employees complain about him in droves. Perhaps this is a matter of envy?”

Is the wolf so scary.

In 80% of cases, a “difficult” employee is not a bad thing. Sometimes to cheat, to avoid responsibility, to circumvent others, to provoke a quarrel many try. But the straw, of course, we see in the eye of the other.

Often the behavior of provocateurs demotivates the team and reduces the productivity of the entire team. But it can also help the HR manager to notice and neutralize “weaknesses” in human resources management. So what can HR managers, coaches, and executives do to minimize the negative impact of conflict on the job?

Increase Transparency

If there are areas where disputes regularly arise between employees, it’s important to increase transparency on these issues. For example, if conflicts constantly arise in the area of rewards/punishments, it may well be necessary to explain and spell out this system in more detail: for what and in what amount an employee can receive additional rewards. Deprivation of a bonus that came as a complete surprise to an employee due to lack of information is one of the strongest long-term demotivators. But bonuses which, in the opinion of employees, are undeservedly received by colleagues working in similar positions also have a negative impact.

Transparency is also important in communications, including with the company’s top management. In one company there were regular conflicts between the head office and the regional office (where the production is located). The CEO always took the side of the manager working in the head office. The analysis of communications revealed a widespread problem: the manager who was physically closest to the CEO had more opportunities to explain his vision in more detail and to impose his point of view. And this vision had a personal connotation: people do not want to work. When, after the insistence of the production director, the mini-meetings of the CEO with the chief engineer of the plant were put into practice, not only important production aspects were revealed, but also alternative opportunities which had not been used before. And most importantly, thanks to the insistence of the production director, distortions of information on a personal basis were stopped.

“Serpentarium of like-minded people: keeping your finger on the pulse

Of course, it is not always possible to write down all the details of business processes and job descriptions. For conflict prevention it is extremely important to be constructive in the beginning.

The ones who suffer the most in office wars are the least cunning, as well as new employees. It is important to keep an eye on this, otherwise there could be a situation that one HR manager shared: “We searched for a long time and finally found a chief accountant for the holding company. And he worked for three weeks and then suddenly announced that he was leaving. In the midst of the launch of the new ERP system. Financially, the company was hit hard. The employee explained his decision by the fact that he was received with hostility from the team and that he would not work with people who were trying to “pin” his past failures on those who had not yet mastered the job. He gave us the facts. We could not persuade him to stay. We should have met with him earlier, talked to him, and taken action.

Annual losses from unjustified replacements cost the companies a small state. This situation is from the category of “neglected”. You can see that management has no idea what the atmosphere and methods of influence are in the team. And how long ago the “old” employees learned to accept new employees in this way.

To prevent this from happening, you need regular feedback from all employees about the difficulties in the work and the atmosphere in the team. The format of feedback depends on the size and other characteristics of the company, but in general, very well proven proven to be surveys – anonymous and open, oral and written. And it is optimal to alternate between open and anonymous surveys.

Psychological” team building sessions work great as well – the situation in the team can be seen like in the palm of your hand. These are team building trainings with the use of special psychological exercises to diagnose the degree of cohesion and team strengthening. Such trainings reveal employees’ attitudes towards each other, “cold wars”, protracted conflicts. They also allow employees to let go of old grudges, learn to resolve conflicts more confidently and constructively, and thus make steps towards cohesion, from which everyone will benefit.

Memo on surviving office conflicts

  1. Not liking the clarification of relations is not a reason to turn a blind eye to the situation that worries. If you procrastinate in resolving the conflict, it can become intractable, and the only way out will be dismissal.
  2. Are they trying to confuse you? Clarify the situation. Everyone at least once met with a partner/colleague at work who, for various reasons, did not want to answer clearly the questions asked. Often this is an attempt to avoid a difficult conversation about unfulfilled obligations, or to hide his incompetence, to withhold information – in the hope that the person will be embarrassed to ask again. It’s your right to deal with the situation until it becomes clear.
  3. Are you being deceived? Take preventive measures. Put all important agreements in writing.
  4. Are you being taken away from the main point? Are you being led away by irrelevant issues or personalities? Insist on getting back to the point. Suppose that instead of the planned resources for the project you received a promise of a “mountain of gold” in the future. And a story about how much you are appreciated. You have the right to politely and without irritation return the conversation to a discussion of the current situation and how to allocate those resources that your project needs right now.
  5. Your trump card is goodwill, caring and knowing your rights and responsibilities. People who don’t get into fights, but who are willing to stand up for themselves and do their jobs well, are not touched by conflict provocateurs – it’s uninteresting and unpromising.
  6. Often people are stopped from clarifying a conflict situation by an unconscious fear of finding out something unpleasant – for example, that management will take the opponent’s side. Here everyone decides for himself – to take the risk or to continue the nightmare to infinity.
  7. In difficult situations, your reputation in the eyes of colleagues and management will play an important role. Regular reports on your work and no false modesty to help!

Start with yourself

Sometimes the provocation is so outrageous that a person immediately turns to shouting. Hysteria in conflict is unnecessary. You will be listed in the cohort of emotionally unbalanced screamers and stop taking into account the arguments on your part. The first thing that helps to balance yourself is to sort yourself out. The biggest problem with conflict is that we are uncomfortable with the actions of the other side, and as a result, we want to force that other side to change. And she, as a rule, doesn’t want to. Or cannot. And there’s always a reason for that, mostly fear.

We cannot change others at the level of their core beliefs and values. Especially quickly. Especially in confrontation.

But we can help ourselves. Get over the inner storm. By not supporting it (“Surely they’re already looking for my replacement!”). Not by talking ourselves up (“It’s okay! Nothing happened!”). After calming down, make a decision – what needs to be sorted out, what actions to take. Base your decisions on facts, not assumptions. And in dealing with conflict situations, unfounded assumptions are always found on all sides.

If we focus on how to help ourselves, rather than prove something to others, we may not win, but we will win. The vast majority of people in conflict don’t even realize what it is they care about most. “I’m not offended at all, no way!” – proves a young manager, hurt by the disdainful attitude of the new boss. And from this “hiding,” serious problems begin.

The benefits of provocateurs.

It is impossible not to mention the benefits of having provocative employees in the team – and there are such, oddly enough:

  • They are the best trainers of resilience, determination and the ability to stick to priorities.
  • They are often the most creative communicators. Characters from whom you can always learn flexibility and the ability to non-trivially get out of a dead-end situation. And also ask for advice on how to deal with conflicting customers and suppliers.

Surprisingly, even employees who become the epicenter of conflicts in the team can be beneficial. The main thing is to make sure that their influence on the team does not get out of control, and channel their energy into peaceful ways.

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