Tag Archives: conflict

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quiet monsters

Helping Quiet Monsters Get Tame

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Do you know where the quiet monsters are lurking? Chances are, there is at least one in every workplace.

It isn’t always intentional. Some people just don’t know what they don’t know.

Behaviors, actions, or in-actions are unrecognized, not thoughtful, or disrespectful. Honestly, some people just don’t get. And, of course, there are some that are intentional.

Navigating difficult personalities in the workplace is nothing new. Any time you have two or more people working together you’re going to have conflict.

Conflict is natural, and can even be healthy if it is well managed.

What about the passive aggressive person, or that person that simply doesn’t want to cooperate? There are plenty of quiet monsters lurking everywhere.

Some people are hoarders. They hoard work, hoard information, and work to protect everything and anything that they feel gives them an advantage.

There is the person who dodges work. Avoids meetings, comes in late, and spreads rumors.

There are needy people. People who believe that work is about occupying the space and being social. They lack skills and waste time.

The list can be long.

Quiet Monsters

One of the most fundamental aspects of navigating difficult personalities is to recognize up front that you likely won’t change the person. However, you can change your reaction to their behaviors.

In some cases, a change in how others interact will prompt a change for the difficult person. Good role models and strong leaders immediately come to mind.

For the difficult personality, you can tell on them. You can tell the boss, complain to others, and share in the misery. Yet, that won’t do much to change your plight.

Sometimes the best thing to ask yourself is, “How is my behavior contributing to this situation?”

The psychology of work can be challenging to understand and even harder to master. A one size fits all approach will seldom work.

In order to tame the beast, you’re going to have to adjust how you interact or contribute.

-DEG

Dennis E. Gilbert is a business consultant, speaker (CSPTM), and culture expert. He is a five-time author and the founder of Appreciative Strategies, LLC. His business focuses on positive human performance improvement solutions through Appreciative Strategies®. Reach him through his website at Dennis-Gilbert.com or by calling +1 646.546.5553.


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beyond monochrome

Beyond Monochrome It’s a Different World

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Do you see everything in black and white? Is the light on or off? Is it day or night? Once we’ve moved beyond monochrome things quickly become much more subjective.

In the mid-1980’s I was a computer programmer. Jokingly, I often ask people to not hold that against me. Largely, I loved my job. In the future, my path became much different.

Much has changed since my monochrome coding days.

Simple as Black and White

Back in the day you wrote code mostly using either Amber or Green monochrome screens.

The ability to understand how to make a single alphabetic character or numeral appear on the screen was a big accomplishment. When you could write code to draw a box on the screen you had highly advanced skills in the audience of most people.

While things seemed more complex, they were actually simpler. Choices were limited and people readily accepted the ability of the technology to do volumes of work previously unable to be accomplished in a timely manner by human personnel.

There wasn’t the argument over which tone of blue you were using. Nobody wanted their picture cleaned up before using it in the software application. Security was only about not giving someone your password. Simple.

Beyond Monochrome

Today it is a lot more complex. Everything is much more subjective.

This change is probably good, yet it is not without controversy. The improvements help bring our World to life, provide more meaning, and add more value.

It all costs. It costs us to learn the important skills of collaboration and conflict management. We have to communicate better, be more efficient and at the same time discover deeper forms of patience.

Opinions are often offered, not out of an attempt to be difficult, but because we have options.

Monochrome feels nice until we experience and appreciate life on the other side.

-DEG

Dennis E. Gilbert is a business consultant, speaker (CSPTM), and culture expert. He is a five-time author and the founder of Appreciative Strategies, LLC. His business focuses on positive human performance improvement solutions through Appreciative Strategies®. Reach him through his website at Dennis-Gilbert.com or by calling +1 646.546.5553.


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workplace conflict

Under The Covers of Workplace Conflict

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Is there conflict in your organization? Do you always recognize workplace conflict? Sometimes conflict is hidden or existing underground.

There are a few basics about conflict.

Conflict Basics

The first is that conflict is a natural part of people working together. Anytime you have two or more persons actively engaged in workplace activities, you’ll likely face some conflict.

Also, conflict can often be determined to be bad or good, okay or harmful, based on how it is managed. Mismanaged conflict is typically noted as bad conflict.

A final point about conflict is that avoidance of managing conflict will often result in more harmful conflict.

Resolutions to conflict or minimizing any harmful effects is not a one size fits all approach. Different types or styles of conflict may require different approaches.

One of the most challenging aspects of conflict is recognizing it in all its various forms.

It is common that workplace leaders often misunderstand the dynamics of conflict. Sometimes this is denial, “No, our teams are doing great. We had some conflict issues a while ago but not recently.”

Workplace Conflict

Many people believe that conflict arises when there is organizational change, modifications to policies, rules, and guidelines. This is a great time for conflict to emerge, but it may also not always be so apparent.

From my experiences conflict that is under the covers (not easily visible) occurs in two scenarios.

The first is when there is fear of being removed from the team if you speak of conflict. It is the shoot-the-messenger concept. Don’t speak of conflict or you will be blacklisted or fired.

The second often follows the first and that is that some employees really like the drama. Conflict exposed is not as dramatic as conflict behind the bosses back.

Do you have workplace conflict? If you have two or more people working together you probably do.

Are you prepared to effectively manage it?

-DEG

Need some help with learning to manage workplace conflict? Please reach out.

Dennis E. Gilbert is a business consultant, speaker (CSPTM), and culture expert. He is a five-time author and the founder of Appreciative Strategies, LLC. His business focuses on positive human performance improvement solutions through Appreciative Strategies®. Reach him through his website at Dennis-Gilbert.com or by calling +1 646.546.5553.


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workplace microaggression

Was That a Workplace Microaggression?

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Things have a funny way of going full circle. Trendy behaviors, buzzwords, and even politically correct phrases. Are you delivering a workplace microaggression?

The term microaggression goes back to the early 1970‘s. Chester M. Pierce, is known to get credit for coining the word. Chester passed away in 2016, but his societal impacts live on.

Full Circle

Now, nearly 50 years after the introduction of the term, it is gaining additional traction. The term is echoed around college campuses, high schools, and yes, of course, it is rapidly emerging in the workplace.

Defining a microaggression may not be as easy as you think. In a society seeking to either find or ignore political correctness in every breath it may be hard to understand what is acceptable or what is not.

If you look up the definition of the term it doesn’t necessarily provide much clarity. Here is a segment of the definition from Wikipedia that seems to resonate, “[words, phrases] …whether intentional or unintentional, that communicate hostile, derogatory, or negative prejudicial slights and insults toward any group.”

Workplace Microaggression

Are you delivering a microaggression?

Let’s assume you meet a person who may appear (visually) to be Hispanic. A stereotype, yes, indeed, but that isn’t the point here. After an initial greeting, you say, “Wow, you speak good English.” Congratulations (sarcasm), you just delivered one.

The same is true if you say, “How can I be a racist? Many of my best friends are black.”

Perhaps in the workplace you say to a baby boomer, “We have many recent college graduates, if you get stuck with any technology problems just grab one of them for help.” This may be a microaggression.

If you listen carefully, much of our workplace chatter, regardless of age, race, or gender, may have roots in this problem.

Some will suggest, “You can’t say anything anymore. You’ll get in trouble.” That may be dramatizing it a bit, which is another, different workplace problem.

Be aware, improve your communication, help others.

-DEG

Dennis E. Gilbert is a business consultant, speaker (CSPTM), and culture expert. He is a five-time author and the founder of Appreciative Strategies, LLC. His business focuses on positive human performance improvement solutions through Appreciative Strategies®. Reach him through his website at Dennis-Gilbert.com or by calling +1 646.546.5553.


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managing situations

Managing Situations, Who Should We Blame?

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How are you managing situations?

How far is it into your day until something goes wrong? Is it before you leave your home, on your commute to work, or maybe it is once inside the door but before you get to your work area?

Certainly, sometimes things can get a little frustrating. We have a game plan for how our day is going to go and it seems like before we get started someone throws a wrench in our spokes.

When situations arise who should we blame? Perhaps a better question is, “What should we blame?”

Fundamental Attribution Error

Conducting conflict seminars can be fun. Yes, it is true. Sometimes I hear the most interesting stories and workplace scenarios that are almost unbelievable. Of course, some of these stories may be embellished and dramatized, but they still may have validity.

In psychology there is a term or phrase, fundamental attribution error (FAE). It is also known as, correspondence bias.

You can look up an official definition. In simple terms, it is the belief that the things people do are because of their personality, not the situation.

Managing Situations

For example, at the highway construction zone, someone aborts the posted signs to form a single lane and tries to zoom to the front of the congestion. Essentially, they are cutting the line, seemingly without care about other motorists.

Here is another example that may be even more behavioral. The boss is short with you when you ask a question, then he or she immediately responds to a different question in a much calmer and relaxed manner to another employee.

We may immediately think, “What a jerk!” What we often don’t take into consideration is that the situation they are dealing with right at this moment may be affecting their behavior.

When we are feeling an emerging conflict with others in our workplace, perhaps we should carefully consider the situation before giving them a label.

-DEG

Dennis E. Gilbert is a business consultant, speaker (CSPTM), and culture expert. He is a five-time author and the founder of Appreciative Strategies, LLC. His business focuses on positive human performance improvement solutions through Appreciative Strategies®. Reach him through his website at Dennis-Gilbert.com or by calling +1 646.546.5553.


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Navigating a Toxic Workplace

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Chances are good your job involves working with other people and chances are also good that you didn’t sign up for dealing with toxic workplace relationships. Are you trying to navigate a toxic workplace? Is there a way to regain control or minimize some of the problems?

toxic workplace

Absolutely, but it likely won’t be easy because if it was easy it wouldn’t still be a problem.

Bad News

Often people seek to change the behaviors of others but when you are dealing with toxic relationships chances are very good that the other party will not change. In fact, some of their behaviors might be linked to and feeding off of your own behaviors.

Good News

The good news is that you control your actions and reactions to others. You decide if you’re willing let things get under your skin and if you’ll worry about what they are doing now or what they might do next. You likely won’t directly change their behavior but you can change the nature of your interactions with them.

Beyond Conflict

Many people will identify toxic workplace relationships with conflict. Certainly we could easily agree that conflict might be part of the problem, but not all conflict is bad and I often suggest in conflict management seminars that when conflict is properly managed it doesn’t have to become harmful.

Toxic relationships are a step beyond workplace conflict. They are often an anxiety elevating, energy zapping, and viral performance inhibiting set of behaviors that can lead to additional problems such as poor communication, absenteeism, and employee turnover.

What do many people do? They try to avoid the situation, they attempt to pretend it doesn’t exist, they try to steer clear of the toxic people, and then they tell their boss. The truth of the matter is that often their boss isn’t the solution to the problem.

Avoidance is not the answer either. In some cases keeping a little more distance can be helpful, but not to the extent that you stop communicating about your work or in any way harm productivity, quality, or safety.

The Real Problem

In order to solve the problem or help the situation you will need to thoroughly understand it and get to the root cause. Toxic workplace relationships often develop from one or more of these areas:

  • Our behavior sets us up for others to take advantage of us
  • A person with different values or beliefs violates one or more of our boundaries
  • We allow the behavior of others to spark our own negativity, adding to the problem

Can you improve your situation? Yes, of course.

Improving the Situation

Every situation might be unique. However there are a few things that anyone can do to help improve their plight. Here are a few steps that you might consider taking:

  1. Gain control of your emotions. Any kind of outburst probably won’t help your cause. Take a deep breath, a restroom break, find or create an opportunity to regroup for a few moments, hours, or even until the next day.  This is not avoidance, but an allowance for clear thinking.
  2. Analyze what’s happening. If this is a new problem, what has changed? What are the facts of the situation, not opinions? What part of this do you own? Consider a strategy to start a needed and meaningful conversation.
  3. Have a conversation. As painful as it might seem, you’re going to have to communicate in order to improve the situation. This doesn’t mean an attack or argument, but it might mean setting some clear boundaries while also identifying your contribution to the problem.

Whenever you have people working together you’re going to have different values, beliefs, and ideas about how things should work or the way things should be done.

You likely won’t change the other person, but think about how you can change your own reactions or responses to any situation. You might need to be clear about your boundaries with others and change some of your own behaviors. Navigating it won’t be easy, but doing nothing in most cases will only intensify the problem.

– DEG

Dennis E. Gilbert is a business consultant, speaker (CSPTM), and corporate trainer that specializes in helping businesses and individuals accelerate their leadership, their team, and their success. He is a four-time author and some of his work includes, Forgotten Respect, Navigating A Multigenerational Workforce and Pivot and Accelerate, The Next Move Is Yours! Reach him through his website at Dennis-Gilbert.com or by calling +1 646.546.5553.

Dennis Gilbert on Google+


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poor communication

Poor Communication: Too Much or Too Little?

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Communication is such a complex topic. Often I talk with clients about communication, about factors that influence communication, and about trust issues or even about information overload. Is it possible to have too much communication? Is that poor communication?

Too Much Communication

Many people incorrectly make the assumption that communication break downs are the result of someone not providing a different person with information that they need to know. Here are a few common statements that might be misdiagnosed as a signal for more communication:

  • No one told me!
  • I guess I missed the memo! {sarcasm}
  • I wasn’t in that meeting.

While it might be true that there are times when important information is not shared, there are often many reasons which are not directly related to having an awareness of the need to share information. Things like trust, the fear of causing a conflict, and poor listening skills also substantially contribute to a break down in workplace communication.

too little communication

When a team member, the entire team, or the entire organization come to the conclusion that their communication problems are the result of not sharing enough information the problems sometimes don’t get better, they often get worse.

Too Much or Too Little

Too much communication is just as bad as too little. What happens when people decide to email everyone in the company, use to much courtesy copy, or get a little sneaky with the blind copy function? What if those people don’t necessarily need to be in that loop?

You guessed it, people grow tired of seeing email from a sender which doesn’t apply to them and so they just stop reading, and they don’t just stop reading that email, they stop reading all of them! After some time an email received from Jack or from Jane simply does not matter. The technology savvy employee might even set up a rule in their email management software to file them in a folder that they seldom view.

Communication and Meetings

Email is not the only pathway to providing too much communication. Similar to the email problem management teams sometime decide that they need more meetings or to involve more people in the meetings.

poor communication meeting effectiveness

This might work out okay if that is really a problem but if more people attend the meetings and the information being shared gets more restrictive because of low-trust issues then you have additional problems. Now you have more people removed from otherwise productive work and the meeting content is narrower and important information is not being shared.

So more time is being wasted and the communication has weakened. Should we go a step further?

Productivity Impact

Okay, so if the team has decided to invite more people and yet the additional people are not productive (because they are stuck in the meeting) and less information is shared with the people who definitely need to know then what happens?

You guessed it, another meeting happens because now people need to meet separately with the people who really need to know and of course they can’t disrupt the concept of more people in the original meeting because that is counter intuitive to the decision that they made to share more information.

Poor Communication

When it comes to poor communication, can it get any worse? You bet and often it does.

Yes, there can be too much communication and yes the wrong choices to improve communication in organizations can make things worse, much worse.

– DEG

Originally posted November 17, 2016, Last updated March 17, 2018

Dennis E. Gilbert is a business consultant, speaker (CSPTM), and corporate trainer that specializes in helping businesses and individuals accelerate their leadership, their team, and their success. He is a five-time author and some of his work includes, #CustServ The Customer Service Culture, and Forgotten Respect, Navigating A Multigenerational Workforce. Reach him through his website at Dennis-Gilbert.com or by calling +1 646.546.5553.

Dennis Gilbert on Google+

 


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generational conflict

3 Ways to Improve Generational Conflict

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Nearly everyone knows that not all conflict is bad. In fact, in some cases conflict may be necessary or even helpful with things like change and innovation. Conflict is a natural part of working with other people regardless of your generation. In fact, there is often a significant amount of conflict when working with others who are in the same generation.

Can you build a case for the idea that conflict is worse when working across the generations? You probably can, but what may be most important is reminding ourselves and our colleagues, regardless of generational representation, that to keep conflict from becoming harmful it needs to be properly managed. Consider the following positive actions:

  1. Avoidance is as problematic as being too aggressive. Ask questions of others to gain understanding of specific interests or to clarify positions. Think collaboration.
  2. Conflict doesn’t know generational boundaries. Conflict is typical for groups of any generation; all generations have this in common. Focus on commonalities.
  3. Different doesn’t mean better or worse. In conflict, a different idea is often managed as the wrong idea. The common ground should be inclusion not exclusion. Build on others’ ideas to create synergy.

When we strive to address concerns based on the root cause and when we learn to look for commonalities instead of differences we can make our workplace communication more effective, our contributions more productive, and improve employee engagement and job satisfaction.

Effective, productive, and engaged, your team will improve the bottom line!

– DEG

Originally posted on November 24, 2015, last updated on April 11, 2019.

Dennis E. Gilbert is a business consultant, speaker (CSPTM), and culture expert. He is a five-time author and the founder of Appreciative Strategies, LLC. His business focuses on positive human performance improvement solutions through Appreciative Strategies®. Reach him through his website at Dennis-Gilbert.com or by calling +1 646.546.5553.


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