CONFLICT RESOLUTION & RELATIONSHIP MANAGEMENT...
Appropriate Resolutions for life’s relationships.
"Last year around this time I was so unhappy in this hell-hole. The toxicity of the place was getting to me and I was about to send my resume into the community. I had worked in 'unhealthy organizations' before and knew I wasn't prepared to do it again. Thank goodness that Jim finally decided to bring you in to help us work out our differences and the issues which were making our lives so miserable. I admit I was sceptical and afraid at times, but it was well worth it the effort."
Karen's words gave me a rush and the passion she demonstrated during her acknowledgement was rewarding to say the least. Karen, a dedicated and committed organizational leader, was reflecting on a history when conflict festered throughout her workplace until it seemed to take on a life of its own. ‘Good’ people had left; work-groups and teams, although committed, couldn’t seem to get by interpersonal and operational differences. Aggravating an already difficult situation, organizational staff was confronted by what appeared to be a never-ending period of organizational change and adjustment. As I introduced and began the transformational process, the question of ‘why it took so long to get the help needed’ clearly rested in the background until this barrier was ‘tabled’ in the context of their future preferred reality.
AVOIDING ‘THE MONSTER’: TOO OFTEN THE ORGANIZATIONAL REALITY
It is always interesting for me to observe that, in general terms, Karen’s experience is not the anomaly; staff, managers, and those who try to help often wonder why organizational leaders don’t call in help until long after differences have evolved into problematic, divisive conflicts. As one colleague put it to me the other day, "they only seem to call you when blood is already on the floor” (metaphorically speaking, thank goodness).
What I do know is that the ‘whys’ are different and personal for each person and each organization. An individual may perceive him/herself to be incapable of managing differences effectively; a person can have a history of negative experiences with conflictual situations, or it could be that the issues themselves are so scary to the individual that s/he is not prepared to risk losing a job or alienating a colleague or friend; at least not without help. Whatever the personal or situational barriers might be, and as I explored where the leaders wanted to go, their preferred outcomes, it soon became clear to me that in Karen’s workplace, avoidance had been the norm and conflict had been perceived as 'a monster' to be avoided at all costs. As historical incidents were raised to be problem-solved, people described how they had ‘steered clear’ of potential confrontations even as they had moved into 'fight or flight' mode.
ABOUT Conflict... What conflicts look like…
Disputes … WHAT DO DISPUTES LOOK LIKE, and how do people react or respond when conflicts escalate into disputes? (the many faces of conflict),.
CONFLICT RESOLUTION TIPS AND GUIDELINES: Strategies and behaviours for you to apply when in conflict.
CONFLICT CHRONICLES: Original stories by Joseph Ravick with a common theme. The chronicles feature real-life conflicts describing the people, their relationships, and the outcomes which they experienced whether they liked it or not.