How Can You Save Time In Conflict Resolution?

How can you save time when dealing with conflict resolution? 

By addressing any hint of conflict immediately.  Right now. 

If you don’t, it will grow.  There is no doubt whatsoever about it! 

Conflict doesn’t go away – it just festers!  It may seem like the waters are calm, but in actual fact, the undercurrents are destructive.  And it doesn’t matter whether the conflict is in volunteer organizations you belong to, at work or in your personal relationships.

In Organizations – Recently, I experienced a conflict situation with someone.  She “ambushed” me at a meeting of a volunteer organization because she didn’t like some of the things I had said to her of late.  I was quite steamed of course because I could see how she had used “backroom tactics” to put me on the spot and, of course, disappointed because I thought our relationship was more positive; certainly I didn’t expect this kind of behavior.  She had “prepared” her compatriots for the “attack”.  Well, the attack backfired on her and “her people” didn’t support her.  Did I want a repeat of this behavior on her part?  No, of course not.

She was going away so I sent her an email indicating that I wanted a telephone conversation to clear the air upon her return.  I told her what I was upset about.  Her response?  To send my emails, without my permission, to everyone in the group which, of course, is not good for the group dynamics.   This is the kind of person is highly destructive no matter where she operates.  Her style is “my way or the highway” and, if you don’t agree with her, she’ll “get you”.  How?  Through the “gang up” method –  the schoolyard bully syndrome.  Will this conflict ever be resolved?  I don’t know. 

This is an example where I have a choice – is resolving this conflict worth it?    

At Work – Often, people don’t have a choice – they have to go to the office every day of the week and face someone which whom they are having a conflict.  In the office, as a manager, I learned through experience that it was my job to deal with conflict – any conflict – whether it was between employee in my department, between an employee and myself, or between a peer and myself or even conflict between my boss and I.  Most managers don’t want to deal with conflict and do everything in their power to avoid addressing it. 

If a manager sees or experiences conflict, then deal with it immediately – now – don’t wait one more second.  Set up a meeting and get through it.  Is it  stressful?  Absolutely!  That’s why most people avoid dealing with conflict because it is so emotional and so stressful that avoidance seems to be the answer.  Notice I said, “seems to be the answer”.  Avoidance is never, ever the answer in the workplace.

A secretary at one time kept referring to the Bible in the workplace constantly.  There were others on staff who were either non-believers or believed in another religion.  It irritated a lot of people but no one, not even my boss, wanted to deal with it because of the sensitivities surrounding one’s beliefs.  I dealt with it – the whole was more important than the one – she simply hadn’t realized the effect her references to the Bible were having on others.  If I hadn’t intervened, the irritations would have grown into a whole host of negative emotions and affected everyone’s work

Will you always succeed?  No.  But you will have begun the process.  There are some people who will never, ever want to participate in addressing the situation and resolving the conflict –

  • they love to live in conflict – it makes them feel alive – if conflict doesn’t exist, they’ll likely create it
  • or they’re right – at all costs and see everyone and everything else as wrong – they don’t want to generate a positive atmosphere and are unwilling often to an exchange of possible solutions; only when their jobs are at risk will they even “budge” and sometimes not even then
  • or it doesn’t fit with how they operate – as a bully or a “backroom tactician”!  It’s their way or the highway is their attitude – there is no middle ground.  If  a person doesn’t go along with everything they say and do, they’ll do everything in their power to gather support against the person and make life very uncomfortable.  These are the people you take on or leave – they can be defeated but it takes time and energy – they don’t like to be asked questions

These are the very people you must distance yourself from.  And when they are in the office, they are the type of people who should be encouraged to leave or, in the worse case scenario, start the process of dismissing them. 

You’ll find, however, that most people do want to resolve the conflict – they want to air their “side of the story” and they want a solution – most people want to live in as much harmony as possible.  Sometimes, when they see the other side, they are surprised and offer their apologies.  Sometimes, they still don’t agree but at least it’s out in the open and they know, on that point, they will never see eye to eye – and that’s okay.  Sometimes, they all of a sudden “hear each other” and discover that they were saying the same thing in different ways.  And, sometimes, it was just plain silly and they both admit it – laughing about how stupid it was to get into conflict in the first place!

It’s the same in your personal life.  My partner is a master at approaching conflict.  His approach is gentle but effective and it’s all about timing.  He’s not afraid of my emotions; he’s interested in getting rid of the problem.  It’s addressed.  Life moves on.

Will you be good at conflict resolution in all parts of your life?  Likely not.  No one is.  Where one person is master at conflict resolution at work, they fall short at home.  But it is a learned skill and, with time and conscious effort, it can be improved.

How can you save time dealing with conflict?  By dealing with it – NOW – that’s how.  There is no other way unless you are willing to accept constant tension in your environment, an increase in game playing and the inevitable escalation of conflict one way or another.  In the long run, unresolved conflict will cost you a lot more time than dealing with it immediately.

Lorraine Arams
http://www.wizetime.com

 

I’m Busy – You’re Busy – We’re All Busy – Are We?

I’m busy – you’re busy – we’re all busy – are common refrains these days.

Yet, when you really look at how people spend their time, there are gaps in that “story”.

Likely, what is closer to the truth is that people are not consciously thinking about how they spend their time.

Someone recently told me she was incredibly busy and, yet, a few minutes later told me how she watched that program on tv and that other program and another program and another program – how many hours was she spending watching tv every day? When I mentally calculated the number of hours she was watching tv – soaps, news and “fluff programs”, it was amazing. She was convinced, however, that she didn’t have enough time to do what she wanted to do.

How is your time being spent?   Where are you spending time which could be used to do other things you want to do more?  Habit is an odd thing – we get into the habit of using our time in some particular way – like Pavlov’s dog.  It never dawns on us to take that time doing something which is no longer serving our goals and replacing that time with activity which will get us what we want.

Tip:  Take a look at how you’re spending your time.  Are you delegating where you can?  Are you giving up activities which don’t serve you any longer?  Are you doing things because you’ve always done them – can they be replaced with something else?  I don’t know what the right question is for you, but I’m sure you’re getting the idea. 

I’m busy – you’re busy – we’re all busy – are we?  Take a conscious look at how you are using your time.

Lorraine Arams
http://www.wizetime.com

Is It Time to Change Fundamentally?

Is it time to change fundamentally?  How do you know when that might be?  Should you effect change now or not?  Why are you changing?  What will the costs in time, money and energy?

When life goes sideways, we think we need to make a change.  Often, we have no idea what change we should make or how to go about making that change but we think fundamental change is the answer.  How do we know?

Solution?  Clarify and Understand. 

What’s the problem exactly?  Once the problem is clearly stated, preferably on “paper”, it is time to search.  Clarity leads to focus.  And hopefully, it also leads to open minds using eyes and ears to support an open mind.  And here’s a trick to clarify:

in 60 words or less describe the problem – not more than 60 words – if you can explain an issue in 60 words or less, you understand it and it will be crystal clear what the issue is

Does anything fundamental need to change or is it just a matter of finding a new approach?  Answers don’t always mean change; sometimes, it just means applying what you know in a different way but that’s not the same as change. For example, if you look at sports.  The game is the same.  The rules are the same.  But a new technique of accomplishing the same thing – one hand basketball shot as opposed to a two-handed approach to score – does not fundamentally change the game of basketball – it just adds another method by which a player scores.  The goal is to score and win.

Here is an example of change.  Coca Cola wanted to solve a problem.  What was the problem in the first place – did they know? 

They chose change.  So they brought in a new coke.  It bombed.  Coke lovers around the world wanted their “Classic Coke”, not the “New Coke”.  Obviously, the coke formula was not the problem – they still had plenty of people who drank Coke in the first place.

A fundamental change was not necessary.  

What were they trying to achieve?  Greater market share?  Adding to their line of products?  Retiring old products?  There were many other ways Coke could have achieved what they wanted without changing the fundamental formula of their product – more creative promotional ideas, maybe a new way of  communicating with the marketplace or hundreds of other “answers” as opposed to “change”.  It cost Coke plenty in so many ways to make an unnecessary change.

Fundamental change, therefore, is often unnecessary.  Stats and strategic planning and analysis and . . . . . all the other paraphernalia taught in high-priced universities and colleges cannot replace the ability to achieve clarity based on experience,  imagination and teamwork (education is a place to start, not a set pattern of making the right decisions).

There was someone in the Coca Cola company who was saying it was a bad idea to change fundamentally (there always is), but none of the decision-makers chose to listen to any argument against their “idea” – often that is the case. 

So, when there is a problem to solve:

  •  clarify the problem – know exactly what is to be resolved – it’ll save you a lot of money, energy and time in the long run
  • listen to all ideas – you never know who will be offering the best one
  • make the atmosphere safe to present contradicting opinions and consider every person’s opinion at all levels of the organization as a valid point of view – the one opinion disliked the most could be the key to resolving the issue – there is wisdom in every corner of an organization 
  • keep asking the most important questions of all:  Is fundamental change really necessary or is there something else we should be thinking about?

Lorraine Arams
http://www.wizetime.com

How do you Cope When Your Head, Heart, Spirit & Stomach Compete for your Time

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Take Your Time and Learn Well

Take your time and learn well.  What do I mean by “take your time and learn well”? 

When you take your time to learn something new well the first time you come across the knowledge you want or need, it’ll save you time in the long run.  We sometimes want to learn things instantaneously because we need the information now. 

However, what happens is that the our eyes or ears may see or hear quickly but our brain needs time to process. 

We all know that we learn best when we are relaxed and focused. 

Today, we feel that because we can access information quickly on the internet, the learning should come quickly too.  It doesn’t.  Humans haven’t changed despite the fact the internet has provided the incredible tool for searching and finding data and other learning opportunities.

The tendency, therefore, is for all of us to rush through the learning process.  We feel frustrated when we can’t seem “to get it” now. 

We need to slow down, calm ourselves and understand that absorbing new knowledge takes time.  We will save ourselves a lot of time by not having to go over the material again and again if we just relax and focus the first time.  If we need a review, it will be just that – a review – not a full re-learn every single time.

So, when we take our time and learn well, we save ourselves time in the long run, reduce our stress, and absorb material much better without full repeated learning sessions. 

A tip:  if you are using the internet to learn a skill, use 2 computer screens – one to watch the skill being demonstrated and the other to take the steps shown as the instructions is presented.  This interactive learning really helps retain the knowledge.

Lorraine Arams
http://www.wizetime.com

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