Joined: February 15, 2005
From: Indianapolis, IN
I hope that you all had a relaxing Labor Day weekend. Back to Our Worlds!
"John" was a Hospital Rehab Director that I had the privilege of coaching. He had been hired from the ?outside? of the organization from a supervisory role at a small clinic before he joined The Hospital. He was confident from the outside and fiercely presented all the right answers but now 3 months into his new role as Director he was frustrated, angry and most of all frightened that "it wasn't working out." From my role as interviewer and observer it was all too clear that his teams were also frustrated. They saw him as domineering and not particularly interested in his people ?just out for himself and making a name for himself.?
I began working with John as his coach when he had really reached the end of his rope. He had one therapist that he had considerable conflict with on a frequent basis. This senior therapist had a lot of loyal followers in terms of her clinical mentoring. She was an awesome clinician to her credit. But she had very definite thoughts as to how patients should be treated, how she should or should not use support staff and why productivity standards could be waved for her clinical outcomes. She did not exhibit behaviors to support John in his role as Director.
John was surprisingly open to his own personal growth. We began by looking at his own style of managing people. How he communicated. What type of leadership style he favored. The strengths and barriers that he exhibited in getting a group of diverse folks to follow him. One of the first areas that we coached around was the relationship between the therapist he unaffectionately described as "the Guru" and himself. They were standing on opposite ends of the clinic in every respect. Where to begin ???
"John, what is the most critical issue you need to address as a leader to impact your team?"
If a person can see their behavior clearly they have a chance to make changes. Conflict behavior is different for each person. I am sure you have all seen these "roles" in your lives as therapists and people. Typically, people behave in a way that sets them up to play a specific role in conflict such as, Avoiders, Aggressors, Diplomats, Peacemakers, Directors and of course combinations of these.
One of the first areas we looked at together was how he communicated in situations of conflict. John had the filtered belief that everyone on his team knew what they were supposed to be doing and how it should be done. For example, with the "Guru" John played the role of "Avoider" then after the fact John couldn?t hind his anger over her "deliberate neglect of the rules." This therapist who denied knowledge of the rules would shut down when John came to her in his obvious frustation and she would then play "water cooler talk" with the rest of the team.
We planned our first meeting around crafting the interaction that needed to take place with his senior therapist first. As Judith Glaser writes in Creating We, ?we must have the ability to have vital conversations that challenge all parties in creative ways?? One of my conversations with John was to help him examine the views of others, in particular how this therapist felt and thus reacted when he was communicated to her in such a fashion.
Before the meeting I had John prepare with the following foundation questions:
1. What are your goals for this conversation? 2. What are the potential causes of conflict? 3. What are the views of the other person? (For John, this included a frank examination of the flaws or weaknesses of his own position. Asking open ended questions and setting aside assumptions. Empathizing with the other person and asking for examples to clarify the issues when he didn't understand.) 4. What responses might you get from her?
We worked on what would/might happen during the meeting, how to set the stage, how to describe the conflict from John?s perspective, how to solicit the perspective of his team member,and how to offer solutions that might solve the conflict in a constructive way. Most importantly to develop and plan with specific actions that both of them would be willing to take in order to implement the solution.
John voiced that he felt confident that he would have this difficult conversation and in fact he did ?very successfully. One step in a series of positive changes that have occurred over 4 months since we began our work.
Authentic communication in situations involving conflict is a critical relationship skill necessary for growth and change.
In all situations of conflict it is so important to stay flexible and optimistic. This can be difficult-- making the best of the situation...not letting ego get in the way...looking forward, not back...thinking thoughts that lead you toward adapting and accepting... communicating your optimism that things will work out.
How do YOU feel about conflict? What is your favorite method for addressing conflict resolutions? How effective has it been for you? What conflicts exist in your workplace that you are not addressing...
I want to thank you for reading this Forum and for sharing of yourselves. I look forward to hearing from you.
Joined: May 11, 2004
I'm not afraid of conflict and I don't avoid it. In my mind it is best to hash crap out sooner instead of later. The problem I tend to have is that most individuals prefer to avoid conflict and I'm more that type that would rather have issues done, over, resolved and move on. There is nothing worse in my opinion than letting an issue go on and on unresolved being a thorn in everyone's side and the longer it goes unresolved and the more irritated both parties get the harder it is to nicely resolve.
I've had enough headbutting and conflict in my life that I should be a pro at conflict resolution by now, but I'm still learning. I don't have a favorite method for addressing conflict resolutions because in every conflict I've been in the individuals were very different. All the issues were very different also. What kind of seems to be helpful is knowing the other party's preconceived notions, knowing their expectations, knowing their assumptions and their perceptions. At the time, sharing that same information in regard to myself. Keeping the points to observed behaviors, personal feelings and objective examples can also be helpful.
Then, again, I can enter a conflict perfectly prepared and all thought out and it can still flop and end horrendously. I can say that I've had some crappy conflict resolutions, but it does depend on who they are with and the power that person holds and the belief system of that person too... I say crappy conflict resolutions, but that is because the end result I had wanted wasn't initially achieved in the manner in which I hoped.
When it comes to conflict, I also really believe in the "pick your battle" mentality. That attitude works at home with the family and it does tend to work pretty well in clinic situations - but there are times when a boundary is crossed and that issue needs to be addressed.
Joined: August 25, 2000
A conflict is a door to direct dialogue. Without conversation, there is no point in resolution if things are assumed and not official. Conflicts must be dealt with immediately. If it cannot be resolved between individuals, there must be a mediators involved that do not take sides. Only then can there be a solution to the problems that brought the conflict to begin with.
Joined: February 15, 2005
From: Indianapolis, IN
Great dialogue and the website Jon shared reminds us where conflict exists on a grander scale...
SJBird wrote,"...what kind of seems helpful is knowing the other party's preconceived notions..." I would add to that the emotional attachment to those beliefs.
I believe THAT to be the most important step in examining the conflict and the one which so many of us don't do as well as we could or bypass all together. It all comes back to ... first, seek to understand, then to be understood (! Jesus, Dale Carnegie, Covey, ). Some folks need help with this examination and that is where a coach, confidant, mediator can be valuable. "John" and others ,if they are willing, can build their emotional intelligence through outside feedback.