WorkPeace: Apple Pie and an Open Heart

What if conflict was viewed as an opportunity to create better relationships, a better workplace?

Maybe this sounds like a story of apple pie and motherhood, but I have seen relationships transformed through mediation. Repeatedly.

The process of working through the mess of conflict can provide insight about ourselves and a deeper understanding and appreciation of the people with whom we work.

Theory U, developed by Otto Scharmer and colleagues at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), offers a framework for approaching positive change and a useful way to look at conflict.

According to Theory U, we humans have choices to make about how we move through the world, choices that take us either along a U-shaped path of destruction or a path of co-creating.

These are daily choices.

Of course, most of us never choose to be on the path of destruction, but we get there sometimes because of our habits of thought and action. And the way to get on the path of co-creating is to be mindful and intentional. So, lets look at these paths and the choices we can make in relation to conflict.

The path of destruction begins with denial. This might look like: “Not me. I am fine. Fake news!” From denial, we move to de-sensing and absencing, where we close off and shut down. And then we deceive ourselves and others until we reach destruction. What keeps us on this path of destruction is a closed mind or ignorance, a closed heart or greed, and closed will or fear.  Sound familiar?

In contrast, the path to co-creation begins with seeing, looking at the situation with fresh eyes. This requires curiosity and an open mind. From seeing, we move along the U to sensing, which asks us to be empathic, and brings us to presencing. When we are fully present with the new information and insight about self and other, we can move along the path to trying out new ways of interacting. We might come up with commitments for how we will talk to each other, or make promises to stop doing things that are annoying or hurtful. We exercise our good will towards each other, which enables us to co-create a new chapter of the relationship.

Theory UThe next time you find yourself in a conflict or mediating the conflict of others, try on Theory U as an organizing framework for moving forward in a positive way.

Lead with curiosity to open your mind.

Ask: What can we learn? What new or different information can I take in?  What assumptions am I making?

Flex your compassion muscle.

Allow compassion to eclipse judgment. Step into the “other’s” shoes.

Have the courage to do things differently.

Make an offer. Make a request. Try on a new way of being.

Lori Charvat
Lori Charvat

Guest blogger Lori Charvat is a Civil Roster mediator who focuses on workplace conflict, employee engagement, leadership development and change management. She is a Certified Executive Coach and a Prosci certified change management practitioner. Lori has a busy practice in Vancouver as principal of Sandbox Consulting.

 

 

 

WorkPeace: Get Curious

If you work in Human Resources or manage employees then you will no doubt be involved with resolving conflict at your workplace. A common reaction for most people called on to help resolve conflict at work is avoidance.  After indulging in some panic or avoidance, I suggest getting curious.

Get curious by asking the right people the right questions.

As a mediator, here are my five steps that you can take to get curious and help to resolve issues that arise in the workplace:

  1. Find out or confirm who is involved.

This will typically range from two people to an entire division or team. For simplicity, let’s assume there are two employees not getting along.

  1. Talk to each person privately and confidentially.

Ask them both for their perspective on the incident or incidents that have led to the conflict or strain. How do they think they have contributed to the conflict?

  1. Ask each person what a good outcome would be for them.

This is important! Do they want a finding of fact (which may require an investigation) or are they open to moving forward if certain changes or acknowledgements are made? More often than not, I find changes and/or acknowledgements will be required from both participants.

  1. Discuss what they think the other person’s perspective is.

Really try to have them put themselves in the other person’s shoes. Perhaps this individual has health issues or stress at home. Note, you are not divulging any confidential information you may have but rather helping the other person to get curious and shift to a broader perspective of the situation. While someone’s circumstance does not condone poor behaviour, it can help another party to understand a situation differently.

  1. Task them with describing what options they see to move forward with the other person.

If they are stuck some options you could suggest are: setting up a meeting, lunch, a facilitated conversation or mediation. If the participants do decide to meet together remind them to come with a willingness to listen and understand things differently.

As you gather this information the next steps will be revealed. You don’t need to know all the answers when you are presented with a problem. While these steps will not resolve every issue they can help in a lot of circumstances. Giving people the opportunity to be heard and understood is powerful.

Amy Robertson
Amy Robertson

Guest blogger Amy Robertson is a Mediate BC Civil and Family Roster mediator in Victoria, BC. Amy keeps an active Workplace, Family and Divorce mediation practice and she has workplace mediation contracts with both the Federal and Provincial Government  – for more information visit victoriamediation.com.

This post is part of Mediate BC’s WorkPeace series: mediator tips for addressing workplace conflict effectively.

Photo by Marcos Luiz Photograph on Unsplash

Top 5 Reasons to Work with a Conflict Coach

Ugh. Another day at the office.

How many of your workers feel like this before coming to work? Many leaders and their employees go to work daily worrying about unresolved conflict. One study found that 85% of employees have to deal with conflict to some degree and 36% also spend a significant amount of time managing disputes.

The costs of unresolved conflict in the workplace are innumerable. From lower employee engagement and productivity and higher absenteeism, to loss of customers, as outward-facing employees experiencing stress and conflict often are not capable of representing your business in its best light.

Often it’s leaders who bear the brunt and carry the burden of conflict.

According to a recent Globe and Mail article, “Leaders who lack conflict management skills and avoid conflict often end up being less effective at achieving their defined business objectives, have more trouble managing people and being fulfilled by their job.”

Conflict Coaching to the rescue!

What is “Conflict Coaching”?

Geschftsleute halten zwei groe PuzzleteileConflict coaching emerged from the executive coaching and conflict resolution fields, as practitioners explored ways to support individual clients who were troubled by a specific conflict or seeking enhanced “conflict competency” – the ability to communicate and manage conflict. Pioneers like Cinnie Noble, Tricia Jones and Ross Binkert led the way, merging their expertise in conflict resolution – including third-party led methods like mediation – with individual-focused executive coaching that supports individuals in expanding their workplace competencies.

Conflict coaching is typically a one-on-one process, focused on individual goals and conflict management needs. Client goals might include enhancing conflict competency, integrating learning from conflict resolution training, or preparing for a difficult conflict conversation, or a more formal conflict resolution process such as mediation.

Effective leaders have high conflict competency, respond to pressures and change more constructively, build more productive teams and help create a positive work environment.

Top 5 Reasons to Work with a Conflict Coach

 

1. Hone your conflict competency and be a more effective leader.

Develop positive and productive conflict management skills. Increase your understanding of conflict dynamics and your awareness of your own conflict style. Learn how to mitigate the impact of conflict and manage conflict in more constructive and collaborative ways. Your coach will guide you through competency development.

2. You have unresolved conflict.

Your coach will help you analyze the conflict situation and develop a strategy for resolving or managing the conflict and build your problem-solving skills. Clients report increased confidence when supported by a conflict coach.

3. You are going to mediation.

Conflict coaching can help you prepare for mediation, during the mediation from behind-the-scenes, and after the mediation. Your coach will help you identify your goals for the mediation, and how to achieve them.

4. You want to integrate conflict resolution training.

Research shows that ROI on training is increased by up to 500% when training is coupled with or followed by one-on-one or group coaching.

5. Conflict Coaching benefits everyone.

Learning how to manage conflict effectively – rather than reacting to conflict in negative or potentially destructive ways – benefits the coaching client, and everyone the client deals with! Organizations benefit when their employees and leaders enhance their conflict competency.

Conflict coaching is dynamic and flexible, and is available to individuals one-on-one, and to groups and teams.

Carrie Gallant
Carrie Gallant

Carrie Gallant is a lawyer, Executive Coach and certified in Conversational Intelligence®. She is also a Mediate BC Civil Roster mediator, teacher and trainer. Carrie’s expertise in negotiation, conflict management and career counselling provides a rich foundation to her passion for helping others uncover what really matters and solve problems creatively. For more information, please contact carrie@gallantsolutionsinc.com.

 

Conflict Resolution Week 2016