Black Hats and Raised Eyebrows – Smart Strategies for Resolving Conflict
Work would be awesome if we could just be rid of those irritating people.
Workload is the number one cause of stress at work. People issues are number two. (AIS)
Resolve conflict or drama intensifies.
Causes of workplace conflict:
#1. Black hats and white hats.
You’re the person in the white hat. That burr under your saddle is the person in the black hat.
We respond to stories, not behaviors.
A story that assumes negative intent and/or lack of character creates conflict. For example…
The black hat blows up in a meeting. She has a BAD temper. But when you lose your cool, it’s because you’re tired and stressed.
- Assume good intentions. Smart people don’t intentionally do stupid things. They believe they’re serving their own best interest.
- Ask yourself, “Why would a smart person do such a stupid thing?”
- Confirm the story. “I noticed you lost your temper in our meeting. What’s going on with you?”
- Choose compassionate confrontation. You aren’t trying to prove a point. You’re trying to be helpful.
#2. Raised eyebrows and other irritants.
After an argument, your teenage son agrees to take out the trash but gives you a sarcastic look. Now you’re really ticked!
Conflict is often about how-you-do, not what you do.
Conflict escalates in the face of:
- Sarcastic tone.
- Monitor your body language. Are you open or closed?
- Ask yourself if the conflict is worth it. Before you poke the bear, ask yourself if you’re ready to wrestle.
- Acknowledge the power of tone, timing, and verbiage. How much time would you like to spend dealing with the consequences of a harsh tone?
Tip: Anger suggests you’re trying to control someone. A kind demeanor and gentle tone might be more effective.
What are some causes of workplace conflict?
Conflict Resolution (noaa)
Solving conflict includes treating people with respect. (SHRM)
Added together, as you’ve aptly listed:
Silence, irritation, isolation, neglect …
Rudeness, loud, sarcastic, harsh, disrespectful…
And when you poke that bear back in kind, they cry, “See, everyone! I’m a victim!”
There is a reason people do this: because it works. The millenials and gen z have it down to perfection; we taught them well – they are very “emotionally intelligent,” in that they can effect these manipularions, but lacking in emotional maturity.
There’s no one left that they respect to say, “Unacceptable,” and enforce it. (Trump ain’t it, nest pas?)
Try it, and they call you fascist, though they’ve no clue what the word means.
When basic relational civility has broken down, the battle is already lost; the war can only be won by an appeal to truly common cause … but don’t hold your breath, it’s a long, long haul.
I like your point regarding tone and often find this is a launching point of conflict escalation– I can hear my Moms voice “I don’t like your tone young man.” Even as I listen to political speeches, Regan and Obama were masters of/at tone.
Workplace conflicts can be challenging. I think that sometimes personal issues or stressors can influence someone’s patience or behavior at work. In this spirit, even if the conflict involves me, try to understand what is truly going on. Additionally, communication is about both the sender and receiver which can get tangled up on the other end. Miscommunication and/or understanding should also be a consideration. Regardless, unless you approach the situation with sincere intent, it is most likely to unravel in a way that is not productive.
I love the tip: “Anger suggests you’re trying to control someone. A kind demeanor and gentle tone might be more effective.” When I can maintain my compassion for the other person, I am always more effective at communicating and dealing with conflict.
A point where I see a lot of this is in those situations where somebody has decided it will be a great thing for a team to do “x”, because “x” will be absolutely great for the team (or more accurately, the wider organisation), but ignores the fact that “x” is damaging to the members of the team – when the team matters and the individuals don’t.
I’ve read that the golden rule for negotiating with a grumpy child is “don’t deny their feelings”. It seems to work well with adults too.
Aye, but don’t validate their behaviour as pragmatic, either.
Be clear that they won’t get what they want by such behaviour, that they need to be more disciplined, reasonable, civil AND logical about it.
This advice was right on time! We had an incident to happen at the end of the workday today and it will be addressed in the morning. The problem is that it really ticked off the entire management team and now we need to confront one of the team members concerning the issue. I am really glad that I have this leadership tool to help. I think the 3 strategies will be especially useful. I want to handle the situation properly and in the best interest of everyone involved. I’m glad that we have all had the opportunity to cool down before the meeting in the morning. I will definitely be more open to problem solving rather than blaming.
“Compassionate confrontation”. I like that phrase! Thanks, Michael