Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Stuck in a Rut in Conflict City.

Managing conflict at work (or home) requires skill - correct that - skills.  Often we use one or two of these conflict resolution techniques and our limited approach offers varying degrees of success or, most likely, causes us problems.  Our conflict toolkit should have five tools in it that we are comfortable using and that are not overused. Before developing these tools we need to establish a positive view of conflict.

Merriam-Webster online defines conflict as a "fight" and this is the definition that can create problems for us.  When we hear the word conflict we often think "war" "battle" "dread", but conflict has a positive side.  The Webster definition preferred for defining conflict is a "mental struggle resulting from incompatible or opposing needs, drives, wishes, or external or internal demands".  This label for conflict allows us to see the opportunity with others when working with differences.  The example I like to use, for instance, follows:  If every time we see Sally we think, "Here she comes ready to pick a fight." we're armed and ready for battle when Sally might be coming to ask us if we want ice cream.

In case you would like to improve your use of the conflict management tools, below is a list of each mode as defined by the Thomas-Kilmann Conflict Mode Instrument (TKI):

Competing - advocating for our own needs and/or the wishes of your company.  This requires first KNOWING our needs and then ASKING for them.

Collaborating - working out a decision that is mutually beneficial to both your needs and that of the other person.  This skill is the most difficult and requires knowing what we want and WHY we want it (our end game) and what the other person wants and why they want it.

Compromising - a quick fix to end conflict requiring both parties to give up something.

Avoiding - walking away when the battle is not worth it.  This tool gives us the ability to prioritize our needs and wants and address the most important issues, letting the lessor items fall off the list.

Accommodating - knowing and meeting the needs of others.

To adequately use each skill (and to refrain from overuse) it is important to establish how much you currently use each skill.  CPP, Inc. sells this assessment to certain professional groups.  This assessment is provided to each client at Happy Brain Counseling, L.L.C. Go To The Website

Do you live to work or are you working to live?

Many working Americans place a great value on the reputation acquired with employers, our company and our colleagues.  We find satisfaction and confidence by being 'good at what we do' and in 'being busy.' Establishing a position as the bosses go-to for problem solving and being in the loop for everything that happens can feel rewarding and promising for longevity within the organization.  The industrious, professional work ethic left unchecked, however, can have a high price.

If you find yourself with a reduced ability to relax and unwind outside of work by enjoying time with family, friends and, most importantly, with yourself, you are not alone.  When you loose the personal side, struggles often begin outside of the office - problems with spouses, life partners, children, our health, and friends stop calling.  We can lose the ability to have fun; to laugh and look forward to new experiences.  Boundaries with employers, fellow employees and the company is important to avoid burnout and to maintain a successful employee reputation over time.    

One sign that you have lost the ability to unwind is a lack of hobbies and interests outside of work to rejuvenate the interesting human you used to be. Another clue may be a lost interest in physical exercise or an addiction to working out that is extreme. Relationship quality with children, spouse or significant other can also be telling.  If you rarely have time or make a occasion to connect with the people you care about - family, children, friends - perhaps too much energy is going to the job and not enough is invested in the mortals in your life.  Life is short and precious. Enjoy it!

At Happy Brain Counseling, L.L.C., working professionals learn to balance their working and home lives and keep the focus that life is meant to be enjoyed and work is only a portion of that experience.  Visit the website to find out more information www.happy-brain.com or call 314/717-0190.