What behaviours do you tolerate in your workplace?
Frank is a team leader of a team of ten people. He's known for being quite grumpy and sarcastic. He can be quick to criticise but deep down he has a heart of gold.
Tony joins the team. He really struggles with Frank's management style. He eventually complains to Frank's manager but is told "That's just Frank. He's always been like that. Don't take it personally".
Tony tries to not let Frank's comments get to him; but he is struggling. He is having trouble sleeping and is feeling anxious during the day. He starts making mistakes in his work because he is struggling to concentrate. His productivity has reduced dramatically. Some days he just doesn't want to come to work; some days he doesn't get to work.
Then one day Frank is particularly rude to Tony about something pretty minor. Tony decides that he can't go on like this. He makes a formal complaint about Frank's behaviour. Tony feels management drag the chain in...
I often come across workplaces where they urgently need help to deal with a workplace conflict because the situation has become untenable. But when I start asking questions about when the issues first started to be a problem, I am sheepishly told, 2 years ago, 10 years ago - and once I was told 30 years ago!
An organisation will side-step around the issues that are causing members of their team a significant amount of grief, lost productivity and sometimes result in staff turnover.
Then suddenly something happens, something big, something that cannot be ignored and then this problem that has been hanging over everyone’s head for years, can no longer be ignored and there is an urgent need to resolve it.
So why do we delay resolving these issues immediately; why do we cause ourselves extended periods of pain? Why do we let an entire team suffer, so we can protect one person who is “high conflict” or “difficult”. Why do we tolerate inappropriate...
Want an emotional lift? Have that difficult conversation and get it out of your head.
Do you have a conversation going on in your head? Is there that person you keep conversing with privately, in the sanctity of your brain? Do you replay this conversation over and over? Do you wake up in the middle of the night and continue that conversation?
Have you also experienced the relief of finally getting something off your chest? The realisation that it wasn't as bad as you thought it was going to be? Did you discover that the other person didn't respond as negatively as you thought that they would? Ahh, the relief. The emotional and physical relief of dealing with an issue.
How much are we damaging ourselves when we don't speak out, when we don't deal with situations but sit on them? How much time and possibly money do we waste by focussing on something that is not productive? How is this unresolved issue messing with our sleep and our overall wellbeing?
Wouldn't it be...
My father didn’t talk to his sister for 30 years all because of football.
There was no love lost between my dad and his sister. Dad was one eyed Norwood supporter and his older sister was a die-hard Port supporter. My aunt thought the rivalry was funny; my Dad thought it was treacherous.
My aunt was married to a terrible Port supporter. My dad despised him. My uncle represented all that was wrong with the world. He was a big beer drinker, who was into cars and fishing. Ugh!
My dad was much more sophisticated. He was a big red wine drinking man who was into football, cricket and arguing loudly about politics.
On one auspicious late September day sometime in the 70s my uncle rang my dad to gloat about Port beating Norwood in the grand final that had been played the day before. My dad lost his shit; abused my uncle and never spoke to him again. I think the only conversations my dad had with his sister after that day were when she attended my wedding and children’s...
We’ve all heard it… colleagues spending countless hours whining and whinging about the things other people/management do/don’t do/should do/could do…
It’s exhausting to listen to and it’s unproductive. These conversations are often petty and destabilising to management and teams. Endless gossipy conversations within a team reflect a negative workplace culture and diminish the capacity of the team to be effective.
And yet, so often, management tolerate the petty infighting, the moaning and groaning. They accept it as part of normal office culture. Some managers that I have worked have tried to sort out the problems by asking for “honest” feedback in the hope that they will get to the bottom of the problem, and then are surprised when no-one speaks up.
Employees are not going to “dob in” their boss or their colleagues to the boss. Nor are they going to be the one that rocks the boat; that takes responsibility for the...
No-one else is responsible for how you feel. We all have to take responsibility for our feelings, our words and our actions.
When we use blaming and judgmental language against ourselves or another person we are stuck in the past. We are not looking for a solution and this will ultimately lead to a conflict.
However when we take ownership for our feelings and start to question what is going on for us and/or the other person we can then begin to move forward. What do we need in that moment; what are the needs of the other person? What questions do we need to ask of ourselves and the other person to get more clarity around the situation? What is important to me and to you? How can we move forward?
How much better would our relationships be if we stopped using judgmental/blaming language?
Are there ongoing disputes in your workplace? Is that unresolved conflict impacting on the vibe of the whole office?
If there is a problem, the only way it is going to get better is if someone takes some action; if you actually talk about it. And the best way to help is get someone independent in to help address the issues.
Mediation is a structured process where the mediator facilitates a conversation between two or more parties to help them resolve an ongoing dispute. Or as I like to say – mediation is having a difficult conversation with a safety net. The mediator doesn’t decide who is right or wrong; they help the parties work through the issues to resolve the problem themselves and the whole process is confidential.
So when should you seek out a mediator? Here are some examples:
There are often problems that just don’t seem to go away despite the best effort of management....
If you have an argument with your partner or your child just before you go to bed chances are that you won't sleep well. You’ll wake still smoldering about the argument and this funk will be with you when you get to work.
In much the same way, if you have to deal with conflict at work chances are that when you go home you will still have that work conflict in your head. You’ll be running arguments and things you’d like to say to the person at work who is giving you all this grief, your attention won't be focused on your family and you will be in another funk.
Of the two, you are much more likely to resolve the home conflict because you trust those personal relationships more - they are safer. You can disagree with a spouse or your child and know that your relationship is not going to end.
But you may not resolve the conflict at work so easily. It is scary to speak up in a work situation; you may lose your job, you may be ousted by your social group, you might get...
We often think of conflict being noisy; of people yelling at each other and people expressing how unhappy they are. But most conflict doesn’t look like that at all. So much conflict is silent; it is in our heads, it is not expressed. We wander around all day thinking about how terrible a situation is or how badly the other person has behaved; and we don’t say anything. Sometimes we spend hours practicing things we would like to say in our heads but more often than not we say and/or do nothing. Or worse, things get so bad that we explode and end up saying a lot of things we didn’t mean to say in a way we did not want to act.
And sometimes we think there is a conflict and there isn’t a conflict at all. We worry, we overthink the situation, we sleep badly, we make ourselves sick and often all of that angst is for nought.
I can be so paranoid that if someone rings and asks me to call them back in a formal or tense way but doesn’t say why they want me to...