April is Workplace Conflict Awareness Month

Who knew? I first became aware of this in April 2017 when I did an interview with Greg Cellini for his show Thank God For Monday.  To celebrate Workplace Conflict Awareness Month 2018, I returned (virtually) to the studio of WSOU to record another interview with Greg. This was the third time I had the pleasure of speaking with him on the air and it is always a delightful experience.  It always feels as if we’re having a conversation over a cup of coffee. In fact, I wrote a blog to that effect last year: https://tinyurl.com/y88ugphf

The following is a sampling of the things Greg and I discussed this year:

Question:  What inspired you and your co-author Barbara Mitchell to write The Conflict Resolution Phrase Book?

Answer:  We wanted to write a companion to The Essential Workplace Conflict Handbook.  Too often in conflict situations, people are leery of speaking up for fear of saying the wrong thing.  We wanted to give people who are conflict adverse some prompts or suggested language to help them find the right words and gain the confidence to speak up.

Question: Honest, straightforward dialogue seems to be the key to most problems in the workplace (and elsewhere). Why are so many people so bad at it?

Answer: Problem solving takes time and effort but in today’s work environment, time can be a precious commodity. Therefore, rather than get to the root of the problem people react and hope to move on. It seems easier to offer an explanation, excuse or apology without taking the time to listen.

Question: What are some good questions to ask in helping the other person put the real issue(s) on the table for discussion?

Answer: When trying to get to the root of an issue, it’s important to exchange information and points of view. Ask: 

  • Can you describe the situation and give me a specific example of what happened?
  • Can you explain the issue to me as you see it?
  • Can we start at the beginning?

Question: What if someone tries to pull you into a situation and get you to take their side? How could you respond?

Answer: Honestly, the worst thing someone can do is to get involved in another person’s fight. That’s not to say you can’t take a stand – but that stand should be a neutral position. The problem needs to be solved by the individuals involved – the people who own the problem. You can respond by saying:

  • The situation is between you and her. Have you spoken with her about it yet?
  • Stop talking about him and talk to him. 
  • I can’t fix the problem you’re having with him, but you can.

We’ve been spreading the word about Workplace Conflict Awareness Month on social media because everyone can help manage conflict in their workplaces and organizations.  Would you consider helping us? We'd be delighted if you would write an Amazon review for one of our books about conflict. 

Other ways you can help get the word out is to share our posts on LinkedIn this month, follow us on Twitter (@gotworkconflict, @bigbookofhr) and retweet our posts, and like and share our posts on Facebook. We’ll never rid the workplace of conflict, but we can help to resolve and even optimize it by finding creativity in differences. 

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