Posts Tagged ‘work-conflict’

When Emotion Gets in The Way

September 3rd, 2015

 

 

 

 

 

Photo July 2015 Newsletter

I learn my lessons the hard way. Twice in my career (maybe twice is good?), I let my ego and arrogance get in the way of being a good leader and supporter of my team.  Over 35 years ago, a consultant interviewed my team of twenty.  He gently pointed out that my emotional impulses were poisoning my team much like the article we refer to in this newsletter states.  Yes, I painfully learned my lesson and made changes to improve my awareness of myself and others.

In spite of what I learned, about 15 years ago, I found myself in the same spot.  Thankfully, it wasn’t as bad.  Today, at age 70, I am still working to avoid the poisons and improve my awareness.

From Harvard Business Review come these great tips on what NOT to do regarding emotions at work:

1. Forget your emotional intelligence (EI) and let your amygdala do the talking: Act on feelings and impulses, and don’t filter what you signal, say or do. Don’t let pesky things like social constraints or norms get in the way. Get really pissed off—and stay that way—when someone gets more than you do. Stereotype people who are different from you. Say what’s on your mind then excuse your behavior by telling people that you’re just honest and transparent, which maybe you are, but you’re also just being mean, and if it’s your direct reports, you’re bullying. Unfortunately, given the stress that people deal with at work today, an awful lot of people are walking around in a permanent state of amygdala hijack.

2.  Stick to your guns: Awful phrase. How about “My way or the highway?” Same idea. If you want to ruin a team, be rigid, single minded, and obsessive about your goals or how to get things done.

3. See the glass half-empty: If you want to mess with people’s minds and kill a team’s spirit, focus on everything that could go wrong. Scare people. Be cynical. Emotions are contagious; and negative emotions and the cynicism and biting humor that go with them kill the trust, creativity, enthusiasm, and happiness that are so important to group success.

4. Truly don’t care about people: I once worked with an executive who was, in fact, blowing up his teams­—and his family. He was at risk of losing the prize at work—the CEO job he’d been promised because he got results. The leaders of this company had, thankfully, figured it out. That this guy got results at the expense of every person and team he touched. Naturally, these results weren’t sustainable. When I asked him why he did this, he told me straight out: “I don’t care about those people.” “Really?” I asked. Underneath this total lack of empathy was a profound belief that his goals, and his way of accomplishing them, were more important. And he was smarter, so what those other people needed—well, it just didn’t matter. It wasn’t until he realized that he was blowing up his family—his wife was about to leave him and his kids had given up asking him to do things with them—that he understood why he was ruining every group and ultimately every part of the business he touched.

5. Don’t think too much—especially about your motives and feelings: Lack of self-awareness, whether conscious or not, is at the heart of pretty much all of the bad behavior I’ve seen in teams. Take the executive I mentioned above. When we really got down to it, the reason he was blowing everybody up was because he was scared. So, he got them before they could get him at work. And at home, he was scared of intimacy. Yes, he loved his wife and kids. But he just wasn’t ready for real intimacy—so he kept them all at bay.

5 Pitfalls That Make Workplace Conflicts Worse

November 17th, 2014
“Be kind, respect others, and be grateful.” My colleague, Marshall Brain ( http://www.howstuffworks.com/ ) was telling a group of us about how, if we all did three of those things, the world would be a much better place. I love his advice because it is so simple, straightforward and makes sense. And it is easy to do. Well, maybe not always. If so, we wouldn’t have as much bad conflict in the world as we do.For most of my consulting career, we have worked trying to resolve conflict in companies and between people. Some conflict is healthy. It can generate energy and push people past boundaries. Most of the time, however, unresolved conflicts lead to real trouble. As you know from our recent newsletters, my partner, Dr. Rob Ferguson, has just co-authored and published a book entitled Making Conflict Work: Harnessing the Power of Disagreement. Below is a valuable excerpt on avoiding conflict pitfalls.Avoiding the 5 Pitfalls of Conflict:

1. Treating all conflicts as the same. Our research has identified seven distinct conflict situations, depending on how cooperative or competitive the parties are, who has more or less power, and how much they need each other to achieve their goals. The seven situations are Compassionate Responsibility, Command and Control, Cooperative Dependence, Unhappy Tolerance, Independence, Partnership, and Enemy Territory. Each situation requires a different approach, and diagnosing the situation correctly leads to the most effective strategy..

2. Ignoring power differences. Most leaders (and consultants) overlook the full significance of how power differences affect conflict. Whether you have more power than the other party, or less, it takes additional skills to get to the real issues and achieve your goals. If you have less power, you risk overstepping your bounds or inviting abuse. If you have more power, you risk eliciting dishonesty or sabotage from your supervisee. Ignoring power differences, and lacking a strategy for them, can render standard conflict resolution methods ineffective.

3. Abusing the power you have. Read any page of any history book and you see how monarchs, generals and presidents abuse power. But so do supervisors, middle managers, and team leads. You only need a little power to abuse it –– and thus make yourself less effective in conflict. Some of the most common power traps include: “The Bulletproof Trap” (you make conflicts worse by thinking you are invincible), the “Not-Seeing-the-Trees-for-the-Forest Trap” (you appear insensitive to your underlings by ignoring details because you only see the “big picture”), and the “Screw the Rules Trap” (you bend or break rules because after all, you’re special –– you’re the leader! This sets the stage for minor or major rebellions).

4. Neglecting the power you have. When you find yourself in lower power in a conflict, you may fall into different traps. These include the “Keep your Head Down Trap” (you keep your aspirations so low you don’t even try to find better solutions), the “Powerlessness Corrupts Trap” (you succumb to cynicism or rage toward those in authority, turning to apathy or sabotage), and the “Victim Status Trap” (you wallow in a sense of oppression and victimhood, which ironically can lead to a sense of superiority and refusal to negotiate).

5. Misunderstanding power. Don’t make conflict worse by acting passively. Even if you are less powerful than the person with whom you disagree, it doesn’t mean you have no power. Less power does not equal powerless. There are always informal ways to influence managers and leaders above you in the organization. And these methods do not show up on the org chart. They include actions such as appealing to the others’ interests, eliciting cooperation, creating positive relations with superiors, fostering reciprocity, rational persuasion, increasing their dependence on you, and more.

And remember. Keep it simple too. “Be kind, respect others, and be grateful.” One can never go wrong with that advice.

To learn more, visit makingconflictwork.com, or order “Making Conflict Work: Harnessing the Power of Disagreement” by Peter T. Coleman and Robert Ferguson.