Two Commitments Necessary to Resolve any Conflict
A win-lose interaction ignites competition.
Reject the drama of “I can’t believe this is happening.”
Conflict and offense are inevitable where people work together. Accept it. Anticipate it.
Conflict is a leadership opportunity.
Define the goal:
Begin with the end in mind when people collide and relationships frazzle.
Goal: Define relationships in new language. Recapturing the past adds pressure. The past can’t be changed or relived.
Question #1: What type of working relationship do you want with each other as you move forward?
2 necessary commitments:
#1. Your first commitment is the team.
Individual concerns come after organizational advantage. When individual concerns and organizational interest collide, organizational advantage takes priority.
Commit to seek advantage for the team and for your antagonist.
Seek the best interest of everyone you engage. (Even if their best interest includes leaving your organization.)
Everyone loses the right to participate when they intend harm or disadvantage. (You may disagree concerning goals, methods, and next steps.)
Teams fail when members refuse to help each other succeed.
Any team member who refuses to seek the best interest of everyone on the team isn’t worthy of the team. Talent and title are irrelevant. If you can’t support your team members, it’s time for you to go. Sooner, not later.
A small team of highly committed people goes further than a large group of self-serving individuals.
Tip: The stress of conflict resolution decreases when everyone commits to organizational advantage.
#2. Your second commitment is to act like grownups.
Question #2: What are you willing to do to create the working relationship you desire? (Define behaviors.)
Co-workers don’t have to be best friends. They DO have to support each other while they work together.
Perhaps the best you can do is act with kindness and good manners while you work together. That’s enough. But anything less violates commitment #1.
What conflict-resolution tips might you suggest?
13 Insightful Quotes on Resolving Conflict (Causely)
The Five Steps to Conflict Resolution (AMA)
10 Conflict Resolution Strategies that Actually Work (ProjectManager)
Perhaps the best you can do is act with kindness and good manners while you work together. That’s enough. But anything less violates commitment #1. That’s tough to do and takes discipline and humbleness. But I’ve found when one does so even against those out to get you one tends to prevail and the team succeeds. That action is much easier to do at 63 than at 28 so I figure I have matured in some ways.
Thanks Roger. I find your comment both challenging and encouraging. I’m glad you bring up the idea that simple behaviors like kindness and good manners aren’t necessarily easy.
“This is NOT a zero-sum game.”
If you are working to have someone lose, then you are merely stealing value from the group rather than adding it, in which case the whole team loses value rather than creates value (see #1).
You can “fix” broken teams, and broken projects (been there, done that), by “finding new language” that leads to some form of the goal, a win/win/win scenario (you win/I win/all win) by the triangulation of strategy (us), tactics (others), and discipline (each of ours).
If I can commit to a strategy, we can measure tactical consequences (as the measure and meaningfulness of the strategy) and see ourselves to the best effect/success – yours, ours, and mine.
Every broken project team I’ve encountered has a single, glaring problem: no dialogue (but lots of biting criticism, imbecilic tantrums, and childish whining – See #2).
Anybody that works against a cogent win/win/win scenario needs to be very publicly rebuked, then removed if they do it a second time. When it works (90% of the time), this is what happens.
Thanks Rurbane. It’s great to read the voice of experience. “NOT TALKING ABOUT IMPORTANT ISSUES,” is a formula for conflict. It might take awhile, but eventually it bubbles to the surface.
One important issue that gets overlooked is talking about the WAY we do the work. Or, the WAY we relate to each other. Conflict might be about the way work is done.
At the risk of putting too fine a point on it, Dan,
Evading difficult dialogues
(genuine and honest exchanges of worldviews, not simply one-way monologues or win-lose debates/diatribes or power-dominated “discussions”)
will guarantee subterfuge
(conflict below the surface)
in which everyone hides their motives and agendas.
Incivility becomes the tactics of the schemers who actually want conflict (and “creative destruction”) so they can manipulate things to their personal advantage/power and capture value/$ to themselves, at the costs to others.
Dialogues require civility as a matter of course.
Socrates: “The beginning of wisdom is in discernment of your terms.” (See: define the goal- qin/win/win).
Along with, “When the debate is lost, slander is the refuge of the loser.” (See emotional maturity/grown up – as opposed to emotional intelligence).
Every bit as prophetic/predictive today as 2500 years ago.
This is very nice………… what about when ONE member of a “team” – purposely attacks and demeans and undermines others? and leadership does nothing. How does that make the TEAM feel? What does that do to MORALE? What does that do to highly qualified members?
Team members can’t keep these commitments – when they’re constantly on the defensive…
Thanks for joining in cd… We’ve all been in situations where a toxic person weakened the team and leadership does nothing.
It’s tempting, but it’s not useful to circle that black hole. Any excuse for being unkind or ill mannered is a bad excuse that propagates the problem. And it’s an excuse to act in ways that sabotage ourselves and others.
It’s difficult, but we can’t use lousy leaders as an excuse to bring less than our best. When we find ourselves in toxic situations we’re at a decision point. Do I need the paycheck? Can I leave? What about my job is WITHIN my control? How can I avoid toxicity as much as possible?
It’s also important that we NOT try to fix others – especially if they are the boss.
Work on yourself.
I know. It’s not an easy thing. Believe me. We’ve all been there. AND most of us have chosen the low road from time to time.
I have been a member of a small team. Our supervisor is divisive and has created a toxic work environment. We are all suffering. This year, one of our norms is “assume best intentions” but this seems impossible. How can we assume best intentions when we know that is not the case. It feels like a hall pass for our supervisor to act any way he wants. In addition, he is aware of how hurtful he is and has made it clear he doesn’t care. He has never apologized for any hurts and toxicity he has cause. So how can we assume best intentions? How can we revise the wording of this norm?
…assume positive intent?
Does the supervisor think his hurtful comments are a “wake-up call” for some team members who need his brand of tough-love?
Lack of alignment around core values leads to low performing teams and organizations.
I can speak directly to this and have real world experience working through the process:
– Seek the best interest of everyone you engage. (Even if their best interest includes leaving your organization.)
There are different terms, One bad apple spoils the bunch, one rotten egg, etc.
However I would pass on that immediate action is, and will always be, the hardest, yet most effective portion of the process. Continued Passive aggressiveness is a team killer.
I second the point of passive-aggressiveness being the root of all hostile/toxic environments;
the phrase “kill it, before it grows,” comes to mind.
One of the best tools that I have ever had the opportunity to use is a “put everything on the table” meeting. We had an all-hands meeting and everyone had the opportunity to speak candidly about any and everything that was bothering them without fear of reprimand. People were able to say things in this meeting that they would have never had the nerve to say to people in private. The effects were amazing and created an atmosphere of peace and high job morale. It lasted at least a couple of months. By the time the effects wore off, we all joked that it was time for another table meeting.
No resolution in a family business. Just avoid them. Been bullied by the in laws off and on for 44 years. If they are not bullying me I have to hear a smear campaign about my husband. The old dead people said that’s just family. If you can’t take it sell it. If you can’t make a living sell it. Amazing the business is going into the 81st year. I call it a hell hole. Now my sister in laws daughter is here. She wants to run the business after everyone is dead. But she has started all ready. I have been bullied, harassed,with stink eyes and scoffs. Verbally abused and middle fingers for 7 years now. Because everything I do is wrong. Now I only go in when my husband really needs something and he know I don’t want to be bullied by his niece. I work as fast as I can. No talking no eye contact. Stick close to my husband because they don’t do anything in front of him. The only resolution for me is if the niece and I are the only one left I’m told she has to buy me out or the place is up for sale. Unless my husband can teach our sons how to be bullied and harassed to make a living in the hellhole. There are no meetings and nothing is said to each other in a group. The niece has only got in trouble when she harasses in front of customers. And my husband says something to his sister. But it hasn’t lasted very long and she started up again. My sister in law and her daughter do not want me there. My husband wants me to go and wait on customers and harassing me when I don’t. I will be harassed when I do by his niece with stink eyes and scoffs. More work for them.
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