Friday, July 1, 2011

Unravel Patterns To Reduce Workplace Conflict

Question: Besides relationships, what do all situations involving workplace conflict have in common?
Answer: A lack of clarity.

In fact, in my book, Stop Workplace Drama I point out that where there is drama there is always a relationship component and always a lack of clarity.

Lack of Clarity and Blind Spots
Often the lack of clarity comes in the form of a blind spot.  Within that blind spot is a pattern.  The pattern always originates in thought form before it becomes "manifest" as a behavior or circumstance.The thought pattern is like a string that holds together all other forms of dysfunction.  Because we do not recognize the pattern, that string holds together all other similar problems in various areas of our lives, and we fail to recognize that our "problem" is never about the solution.  However, once you uncover the pattern, you can then "pull a string" that will unravel all that is holding the problem (and all other similar problems)  in place.

If you are not clear of the dysfunctional patterns that prohibit effective communication, you will incorrectly diagnose the problem because you will only dealing with symptoms of the problem instead of the root of the problem, which is always a lack of clarity in some form.

Often we operate in the fog because it serves us on some level. In other words, as long as I (as the leader)  do not have to look at the part I play in the problem, I can blame the lack of engagement, or the relationship conflict on the employees, the status quo or the system, or I can say it's an issue of training.  Incorrectly diagnosing the problem wastes time and money.

For example, I was working with a manager who had a difficult time getting his sales team to follow through. He was extremely frustrated with his account executives. He had tried training. He held weekly sales meetings, and he said he constantly complimented and rewarded his team when they had successes.  From his perspective it seemed to be a matter of insubordination or apathy.  He could not get his employees to engage with him at meetings, even though from his viewpoint his communication was effective.

It was apparent to me that he really cared about his people, but it was equally apparent that he must have several blind spots that prohibited effective communication.

I told him that when you are getting evasive answers such as "I guess" or "I don't know" and you have a lack of engagement, it often signifies a lack of trust. A lack of trust is due to many components, but the core of a lack of trust is not feeling safe.  This tells me that there is a communication pattern in place that contributes to the perception that "it is not safe here."

Upon further examination we found that he did indeed have a couple of blind spots.
He found after attending a workshop that he and a couple of other managers were guilty of using innuendos and what I call persecutor behaviors in their communication.  It was extremely subtle, but there nonetheless; a simple eye roll, or a slight sarcastic comment when someone's performance didn't measure up, or when someone asked what was judged as a stupid question, that person ended up being the butt of the joke.

If you want to increase not only your leadership abilities, the level of trust in your workplace, and your employee engagement, take a look in the mirror. Get some feedback about your own communication style.  When you identify the behavioral pattern, you can then identify the thought pattern. That is when magic happens.

When you change one pattern, that same pattern which is resonant in other areas of life, will dissipate. It is like pulling a string that unravels all areas where that string was holding together dysfunctional properties.

Thanks to Stop Workplace Drama


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