Archive for April, 2009


Monday, April 27th, 2009

Our final style of conflict management is “Compromise.”  If you missed last week’s summary for “Obliging” be sure to to take a look at that post.

The final style has an equal balance for “Concern for Self” with “Concern for Others.”  As you can tell by it’s name, it is about compromise.  Keep in mind that BOTH sides must be willing to compromise (which isn’t always the case is it?)

This style is powerful when both sides are right, and very dangerous when one side is wrong (what message would compromise send to the side that is wrong?)  If there is a balance of power it is effective and if both sides are willing to give something up.  This is very popular in politics, negotiations between union and management as well as departmentally.

The danger for most of us is when we think we are compromising but the other party isn’t compromising.  We end up giving in (see last week’s message).

Make sure that if you are willing to compromise that your partner is equally concerned with solving the issue amicably.

Are you actually compromising or are you giving in to someone who isn’t giving back?


Monday, April 20th, 2009

We continue our discussion of conflict management styles with the fourth of five different options.  Last week we discussed “Avoiding” and when and how we should be taking that style as our choice. 

This week we discuss “Obliging” which sounds exactly the way it is.  This style is about giving in to others.  It places a very high value on others and a very low value on you.  You can imagine that this would not be a good conflict management style in every situation, as you would always be giving in to the other person.  A very frustrating way to operate I’m sure.

Obliging or placating implies that you are giving up something important.  This is used when you need to preserve relationships, such as in your personal life.  Your spouse may love eating sushi, and you may hate it. That means that sometimes you go to a sushi place anyway.  In the workplace you may choose the obliging style if you have made a mistake and want to offer amends.  Perhaps you lost your temper with a co-worker or said something you regret.

You are going to give more than you are going to get.  It may calm the waters in your relationship, it may show that you are flexible and it also may show goodwill.  If you always take this style of conflict management, it may show that you are afraid of conflict, are too passive, or are a wimp.

So, are you using this style strategically, or because you don’t know how to handle conflict?


Tuesday, April 14th, 2009

Last week we visited the second of five styles of conflict management – Dominating.  This week, we move to a style that is practiced by many, and sadly, not usually very effectively: “Avoiding.”

The “don’t rock the boat” style of conflict management relies on others to handle the situation as the person (you) tend to just withdraw or disappear. Are you practicing a strategic style of conflict management, or are you avoiding conflict?  There is a distinct difference between the two styles of avoidance.

There are times when avoiding the issue is the correct choice.  Perhaps it is during board meeting where others are present.  Perhaps your anger has spilled over and you will not be able to be professional. However, you have only 24 hours to have a planned confrontation or discussion with this person.  You choose to avoid so that you can walk away to get prepared, calm down and to stay professional.  If you decide that it just isn’t worth having that follow up conversation, you’ve not dealt with the situation at all.  Actually, you’ve done the opposite and taught your difficult person that their behaviour was acceptable because you did nothing about it.  Behaviour unconfronted will not change.

If used strategically, the avoiding style of conflict management allows you to buy time for a cooling off period.  It allows us to plan our comments to a better place or a better time.

As stated above, very few people actually follow through within 24 hours and address the situation. If something has happened at work, chose to walk away (avoid) but don’t allow yourself to avoid the situation entirely by not having a follow up discussion about what happened.

This week we will go into further details of all five styles of conflict management as well as additional information as our next delivery of our teleseminar “Confrontation Skills” will be held.


Saturday, April 4th, 2009

Last week we visited the first of the five styles of conflict management (Collaborating). This week, we change the parameters for our end goal and discuss “Dominating.”

For many of us we naturally default to the dominating style of conflict management when frustrated.  I push and you push back.  Unfortunately, it is rarely the correct response.

When the concern for self is high and concern for others is low, dominating can be the correct choice.  As you can imagine, this isn’t the case professionally very often (I hope your concern for others in the workplace is not low).  This is the bully approach, and should be used sparingly, and only when you have the authority.  This is often perceived as an “old” style of management.  Intimidation, bully and bossy.  Not the words I want used to describe me.

However, in high cost (such as life and legality) situations as well as parenting style situations, this can be used.  Use it when you don’t have the time (panic) to explain, but will explain later, once the “emergency” is over.

Be careful that this not your default setting (otherwise your staff will be attending my sessions to find out how to deal with you!).

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