Conflict, Daggers, and Punches at Work

Conflict at Work

Are you ready for the really BIG holiday season moving into high gear?  Are you ready for the hectic effort to push and pull everything and everyone around you up that steep hill to profits from now till the end of the year?

More importantly, are you ready for the extra stress, tension, and, you got it….conflict, that awaits you?

Well, you had better be. This is because conflict is everywhere this time of year: in every business, all the time. And it will be this way until the new year comes around and gives us all a bit of a breather (well, …maybe.)

Handling Conflict Year Round

Question: How do you handle conflict, individually and as part of an organization?

Hey look, we know that supervisors spend 40-50% of their time resolving disputes and that most employees, around 88%, feel their supervisors don’t do a good job here.

In fact, most managers I’ve coached wish they could just send their warring direct reports to their rooms for a time out.

Fighting Up the Ladder

We also know that executives spend lots of time listening to the upsets of their senior teams. One recent study suggests that the key to leadership is NOT being a good strategist, or visionary, or even making quick decisions.

The key to leadership is having the ability to build relationships and creating team environment.

Should be easy, it’s not.

CEO’s fail as leaders when they aren’t able to handle people management, the stuff we still gingerly refer to as the soft skills.  And one of the major areas of leadership is being conflict competent.

Boxer or the Bag?

Conflict isn’t easy for most of us. Oh sure, there are the few who like to be in the ring for the count. Not most of us. And there are no schools that teach the art and craft of conflict transformation; maybe just how to protect yourself or tackle another to the ground.

Letting someone push your buttons till you want to explode is like a dagger driven deep in your heart. And continued stress can get really nasty. This is when the “Gotcha Game” gets serious.

It is like being in that boxing ring: punch and jab, punch and jab, punch and jab.

Sure, we all get up and keep going. Yet, most of us put band aids on our gaping head wounds and pretend everything is just fine —- except —–it isn’t.

Conflict is like being in a smelly, sweaty, and bloody place, a war zone; at least that’s what it feels like at work, at home, everywhere.  And it takes guts to really look at what is going on and make change happen.

Running for Cover

Yet, what do we do? We make sour jokes, or set up new policies and procedures of do’s and don’ts. We fight it out, or run and hide. Fight or flight; that’s the nature of most conflict reactions.

Or some just freeze and stand like a lost deer in the headlights waiting and praying it will be over soon.

This begs some questions:

  • Can conflict move from defensiveness to cooperation?
  • Can it be done quickly and easily?
  • Are there tools and techniques to get out of the rancid realm of constant conflict?

Don't Bring It to WorkAnswering these questions is a major part of my book “Don’t Bring It to Work”, understanding behavior patterns we learned in our original organization, the family, which we bring to our present organization at work.

[I have put together the 5 Steps from Mad to Glad in a white paper. You can request it now at  before the holiday season feels like that sweaty, nasty boxing ring in the middle of a battlefield.]

Sylvia Lafair, PhD. is President, Creative Energy Options, Inc.
She does Workplace Relationships, Conflict Resolution, Exec Coaching & Consulting

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