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Archive for August 2013

Navigating Conflicts At Work

Posted on: August 11th, 2013 by Pam Norton No Comments

Hell is other people.  This was one of my mother’s favorite sayings.  Some days other people are fun and some days they’re hell.

If you find yourself mumbling, why can’t everyone see things the way I do, or I’m right and everyone else is stupid, it’s time to take a bigger view.  It takes two to tango, and you need to  to take responsibility for your role in your relationships.

Have a Champion Mindset:

People have different personalities, strengths, levels of knowledge and experience.  That’s the joy and the hassle.  You’re going to encounter people who are different from you and who see the world differently.  When you’re at the top of your professional game, when you’re a champion – capable, strong, and confident – you’ll figure out how to make these differences work for you.  If you have strengths in ABC and your coworker has strengths in DEF, you’ll set personal feelings aside and figure out how to partner.

When you aren’t at the champion level, you might feel insecure about your capabilities or the security of your position.  As a result, you view these differences as either a threat or a spotlight shining down on what you perceive to be your weaknesses.

Champions focus on their strengths and on what works.  “Be interested in finding the best way, not in having your own way.”  (John Wooden)

Who’s Right, Who’s Wrong – Who Cares:

Sometimes style differences can cause conflicts.  It doesn’t mean someone is better or more right – just different.  Here are a couple of examples:

  • You’re a big picture person and your boss is focused on the details – OK, they’re a micro-manager.  Their constant questioning and looking over your shoulder has gotten insulting.  Don’t fall into the trap of thinking their need to micro-manage has anything to do with your capabilities.  It could be a result of their background; e.g., they came from a highly tactical, operational job into a more strategic function.  But it could also be an indication of their own insecurities; i.e., they’re new to their job or new to being at their level.  There are multiple approaches you can take depending on the circumstances.  Discuss what they need from you.  Perhaps they need predictability, or frequent updates.  You might need to negotiate some of these relationship terms.  Of course if they do have concerns about your capabilities, don’t wait for your performance review to find that out.  Try to get those things to come to surface ASAP so you can work on them.
  • You may be in a job that’s the wrong situation for your strengths.  It doesn’t mean you’re not capable, you’re just in the wrong job.  You may be a decisive, get-it-done activator type.  Your approach is all about speed, and your motto is:  fix and fall forward.  There are organizations that value your comfort with risk, ability to make smart decisions quickly and learn on the go.  However, if you’re working for an organization where the nature of the business requires that things be heavily researched, analyzed and confirmed before they’re rolled out, you’ll be frustrated and they’ll be frustrated with you.  

If you have an unresolvable style difference with your company or your boss, don’t let it undermine your confidence.  It doesn’t mean you’re not capable, and it doesn’t mean there’s anything bad about  your current situation.  It’s just not right for you.  It’s time to find a situation that’s a better fit.

If you’re embroiled in a personality conflict, step back to see different sides of the situation, acknowledge other styles and points of view and try to let go of your own emotional response.  Don’t roll over and whimper and don’t put up with daily negativity.  Life’s too short.  Find a path through the conflicts or find your way out of the maze.