10 Things I’ve Learned From Being a Mediator
I’m lucky that I’ve had so much training and experience in mediating issues between others. It’s impossible to be a part of the mediation community and not learn a thing or two about oneself in the process. So, today I’m going to share, in no particular order of importance, ten things I’ve learned along the way.
Preventing Conflict in the Workplace by Taking Time for Yourself
I just got back from a holiday with my significant other and as I get ready to take a long weekend with family, I’m thinking about how fortunate I am this year to be taking so much time off. I realize not everyone has the same opportunity, so I thought I’d share some ways in which one can take a vacation at work without actually taking time off.
Me, Myself, and I
Who hasn’t seen the poster on a break room wall or heard the rally cry at a company meeting that shouts, “There’s no I in team!”? Yep, the quote is everywhere and even though I understand the intention behind it, I say pshaw to that notion!
I’m Ready to Resolve! (and you’re not)
In my line of work we talk about the importance of process. People like to know that we’re following a process; we know that everyone needs time to process, and some say it’s all about the process. Individual journeys are, well, individual and just because you’ve decided you’re ready to apologize or tell someone a thing or two doesn’t mean that they’re at a place in their own journey in which they’re willing to sit on a park bench with you and hear you out.
Stupid Nice Things Good People Say
Why is it that whenever someone shares disappointing or sad news with us our first inclination is to throw on a super-hero cape and deliver the perfect words that will make everything better? No matter our good intentions, what usually happens, though, is that we end up saying really stupid things—meant to be nice and comforting, mind you, but stupid nonetheless. This article shows you a few examples.
Inspiration or Immunity?
Social media currently advocates people to feel free, empowered, and liberated from regrets and mistakes. This article discusses the impact that social media has on taking responsibility for one's actions. How might this impact participants in a mediation?
Tips for Working with Multiple Bosses
When companies consolidate departments or lay-off employees, the action often results in administrative support staff working with multiple bosses. Though the strategic goal is to save money, the act can backfire if the new normal doesn’t quickly fall into place.
A Glass of Wine and the Truth
At some point down the line we parents can create an opportunity to cozy up on the couch with a glass of wine, some comfy throw pillows, and talk about the events that took place over the years as a collective experience; the good, the bad, and the ugly.
3 Conflict Strategies That Don’t Always Work
Compromise. Splitting things down the middle is often the starting place with compromise. It’s a great way to resolve things when you’re buying a used car, but not so much when it comes to time with the kids or recognition for work product.
On Spin Cycle
Here we go; round and round. That’s the sound of the all-too-familiar family whirlpool in which one person (usually the woman) asks that a chore get done and the other person (usually a man) seems agreeable but never quite gets it done. She starts tip-toeing around the subject, he avoids it, she gets louder, he acts like she’s a nag, and now they’re on spin cycle with no forward progress in sight.
A Few Things I Learned in 2012
Sometimes the inner conflicts I have can be more troublesome than the outright disagreements or problems I experience with others. The good news is, the older I get the quicker I’m able to resolve my inner conflicts so I can apply that learning to interactions with everyone from complete strangers to family members. This last year has been taught me a great deal in that regard. Here are a few examples.
How Did This Become About Me?!?
I haven’t seen it done in a while but in the past if a business wanted to draw attention to itself for a big event, it would bring in a huge spotlight that would illuminate the night sky and grab the interest of everyone from miles around.
Conflict on Aisle 3
I can’t tell you how to manage every potential conflict you’ll face in the next month or so, but I can pass on a few tips retail workers have shared with me. Of course, I’ve added my own two cents worth on the subject and hope there’s something in here that will help you keep your cool this season.
The Hollywood Approach
I’m not saying I’m above telling stories with a little Hollywood flair, because, well, I’m not. I’m working hard at being mindful of the picture I paint, though, and I’m getting pretty good at editing my version of what happened. Still, some days I just need to shout, “Cue the crescendo!”
What Your Boss Really Wants
Everyone knows that employers don’t appreciate disgruntled, whiny employees, right? But does the average person know how the organization does want them to behave? Should one suck up, agree with everything, or leave all the decisions to others?
Getting Past the Awkward Stage
If you’re trying to build better relationships on the job (paid or volunteer) look for ways to create cross-departmental work groups. Even if there are no work projects to focus on, there are always opportunities to create task forces on building safety, employee morale, or even the holiday committee. Offer up help without looking too eager wherever and whenever you can.
Naughty or Nice Meter
Santa has mad skills when it comes to deciding who’s naughty or nice, but I’ve been wondering lately how the rest of us determine such things. After listening to loads of people both in and out of conflict situations, I’ve come to the conclusion that what we do is collect lots of information and then funnel the bits into an internal meter. The device considers everything we know (and some things we don’t know) and then the arrow points in one direction or the other. Some of the criteria we consider actually aren’t very nice on our part, but that’s beside the point.
I Have a Great Idea!!
Suddenly it comes to you; that great idea that solves a tough problem or helps the company move to the next level, or just make everyone’s job a little easier. Your thought is innovative, well-presented, and then, yikes!, ripped off.
When it comes to conflict we probably share some regrets. Regret for the things we said, regret for the things we didn’t say, and certainly regret for more than our share of poor reactions. I saw this article a long time ago and stashed it away to share with you when it felt right. It feels right; so here’s a slightly edited version of it.
Poor Behavior 12: Lack of Openness or Honesty
When people don’t know what’s happening they often get a movie going in their head that helps them explain the situation. The film versions they conjure up are rarely romantic comedies; rather, most resemble horror movies with terrible endings. A lack of honesty or openness at work can put everyone’s mental movie-making skills to the test.
Poor Behavior 11: Unrealistic Expectations
Impracticable approaches to projects and tasks have certainly been the topic of many a gripe session between employees. The conversation often begins with one of them busting out with, “He’s never even done this job before,” and the other person responding with, “Really! What does he know?!”
Poor Behavior 10: Being Uncomfortable with Change
Change almost always brings fear. When a shift from the normal is announced, many employees can become hyper anxious as they wonder what creepy crawly things await them. Others rage. And, then there are those who hide from any change by sticking their head so deep in the sand they begin to suffocate. Most employees do a little of each of these actions that are examples of the tenth of a dozen behaviors that cause conflict in the workplace.
Poor Behavior 9: Rescuing
Do you work with someone whose shortcomings tug at your heart strings? Taking on the role of caregiver every now and then isn’t a bad thing; like helping a new employee find his way or mentoring someone who has an interest in learning from you. Nor is it wrong to help someone become more efficient or stretch their skills; no matter your position in the org chart.
Poor Behavior 7: Rushing in to Fix Things
Rushing in with a super-hero cape and special powers to fix whatever is ailing a project could result in the wrong problem being fixed while the real issue is tied to the railroad tracks with a steam engine barreling in its direction.
Poor Behavior 6: Giving Vague Instructions
We’re halfway through our list of a Dozen Dirty Behaviors that cause problems at work with #6; giving vauge instructions. What do you think your boss means when she gives you an assignment and then adds, “When you get to it” as part of the instructions?
Poor Behavior 5: Being Dismissive
Don’t you find it frustrating when you have an idea that you’re dying to share and after getting out only a few words someone cuts you off or moves on to the next person? Yeah, me too; and that’s just one example of dismissive behavior in the workplace.
Poor Behavior 4: Over-Reacting
Continuing the Dirty Dozen list of 12 behaviors that cause conflict at work and then are attributed to the catchall phrase, “personality clashes”, let’s yell #4 from the rooftops!
Poor Behavior 3: Pitting People Against Each Other
Continuing the Dirty Dozen list of 12 behaviors that cause conflict at work and then are attributed to the catchall phrase, “personality clashes”, I’m adding:
#3 Pitting People Against Each Other
Personality Clashes: A Dozen Dirty Behaviors
A smart guy and I are creating a webinar series for employees on the topic of conflict resolution. In the one section we decided to break down what it means to have a “personality clash” with a coworker.
Happy New Year! Resolve to Resolve
Happy New Year! Yes, it’s that time of year when we collectively pledge to get thinner, richer, and more organized. How about this year we forego some of the usual resolutions and instead focus on resolving some of those lingering issues we have with others? If you’re ready to address the ice between you and another person, here are a few ideas from previous blogs to get you started.
Making the First Pitch
Needing to land a big client, talking the family into taking a risky adventure holiday, or sharing a perspective in a dispute all have something in common. All three are presentations (or pitches if you will) for getting someone to agree to what you want.
Why Sucking Up at Work Isn’t a Bad Thing
Brownnoser, suck up, and backslapper are just a few of the monikers folks at work get when they have the boss mesmerized and delivering whatever they want. Coworkers may like to point out a yes-man’s flaws and make a lot of noise about his behavior, but that doesn’t stop a teacher’s pet from receiving special attention and perks.
Conflict on Aisle Three!
Last year I posted this a little late in the season and I thought now would be a good time to repost it as a quick reminder on how to conduct ourselves this time of year no matter what others are doing. Happy Holidays!
Here Comes the Bride…zilla, that is!
Getting married is such an exciting time. The one you love proposes, you honor your best friends by asking them to participate in the big day, the planets align, and all is right with the world. Until the issues of time and money bring out the worst in you and everyone around you.
Who ya Gonna Punish?
Here’s another one of those “I-wish-people-would-stop-doing-that” blogs, based on the Vivian Scott workplace conflict blog.
I’m having chicken noodle soup for breakfast—because I choose to. It’s probably not what most people are opting for this morning, and it certainly would turn a few heads if I ordered it at the local diner but I’m going with my gut here and answering my hankering for a bowl of comfort on this rainy, Seattle morning.
I’d Rather You Not Listen
Mediators are trained to give clients instructions that both sides must be willing to listen to each other in order give resolution a chance. I’m going to stop requiring participants to listen because listening doesn’t accomplish squat. Let me explain.
Understanding Volunteers (the remix)
With the kiddos headed back to school and the adults jumping back into volunteer work, fundraising responsibilities, and committee dynamics I thought it might be a good idea to repost a bit I wrote last year about volunteers…
It Doesn't Always Take Two to Tango
Old, unresolved conflicts can be maddening, heartbreaking, and distracting. And, because it takes two to tango you may think that it takes two to bring closure.
The Art of Silence
As arguments go, there’s a lot of stuff flying back and forth. Some of it is helpful and some of it is, well, destructive.
Sasia's Being Nice Rules
Over the weekend my friend told me about an entry found in one of Sasia’s journals. In it she proclaimed that she was going to change her life by being nice to everyone.
How to Destroy Your Chances for a Raise
Some employees think that if they suck up a little during the few weeks prior to a review, the boss will forget or overlook the fact that they’ve made mistakes, presented sloppy work, badmouthed others, had attendance issues, and generally did as little as they could to get by. Not so.
The One (Mediation) That Didn't Get Away
After this mediation I closed the door and cried for the pair’s past, for my gratefulness at being allowed to see such pure emotion, and for the richness this experience brought to my life.
Wait Just a Second
A person I know was telling me about her boss who drives her crazy. She said that he often, in very dramatic fashion, accuses his staff (and her) of making mistakes when, in fact, he’s the one misunderstanding what’s going on and is in the wrong. After giving more than a few examples of his emotional outbursts, my friend then added, “But I’ve learned to overlook a lot of his hot air because I know we’ll figure it out and he’ll be joking around with me later.”
What Oprah Taught Me
There’s been a lot of Oprah talk over the past few weeks as her daytime talk show wraps up after 25 years on the air. Like a lot of people I’ve been watching on and off the entire time and find myself reflecting on how my life is different/better/inspired because of Oprah and her guests.
I'm Just an Old Troublemaker
How to Deal with Just About Any Boss
5 Things That May Surprise You About a Co-Worker
Mediate Your Way to a Sale
Sometimes trying to close a business deal feels more like a conflict than it does a negotiation. Rather than go head to head with a potential customer, consider using a few mediation skills instead
You Find What You're Looking For
If I’m looking for snide remarks about something that matters to me—guess what—I hear snide remarks.
Play Nice, Mommy
If a conflict arises between you and someone else, she’s not against you, she’s simply for herself. That means that if she’s disagreeing with you she’s probably defending something that’s important to her; like maybe respect or security. Seeing things from her perspective (which is not the same as agreeing, by the way) helps you figure out a solution that would work for both of you. Also, the words you choose can make a big difference in resolving issues. Use “and” instead of “but”; “I” instead of “you”; and be especially careful with words like “always”, “never” and phrases such as “that was the worst thing I’ve ever experienced.” That kind of language just makes the conflict about the words and doesn’t get to the core of what you really need to resolve.
Can't We All Just Get a Good Mediator?
I wonder…am I the only mediator who thinks the writers on certain dramatic shows could have come up with a better (mediated) solution than the one that wraps up in the last five minutes of the program?
Tips for Ending a Stand-Off
I don’t know about you but I don’t know anyone who hasn’t experienced a stand-off that’s gone on a little too long. What starts out as a brief cooling off period turns into what feels like a permanent restraining order handed down by the Court of Preposterous Solutions. The cold air rushes in, sides are chosen, and you both spend a lot of energy letting others know just how little you’re thinking about the other person and the situation. But, with so much time, space, and emotions piling up, the task of making the first move can feel overwhelming. You may be uncertain about how to make sure your point of view is heard without coming across as petty or aggressive; and maybe you’re more than a little nervous about what the other person will throw your way. Rather than letting your uncertainty hold you back, consider these tips.
Keeping Small Biz Employee Turnover To A Minimum
Some people may be surprised to learn that even in today’s economy, employee turnover for small businesses is a very real problem. You’d think that people would be clinging to the jobs they have, but that’s not always the case. If you’re a small business owner and would like to keep folks around for longer than a few weeks or months, consider taking a look at what you might be doing to work against yourself. Look at a number of areas for clues to things you could improve.
Are you getting into a big fight trying to solve a problem? Brainstorm! Wait. Not sure how to brainstorm without getting into a big fight? Try these tips:
Hey, How Would You Feel If I?
Usually blurted out in a moment of frustration, “How would you feel if I…?” is often a last ditch effort by the speaker to be heard, validated, or understood by the listener. I admit I’ve said it myself when I’ve fumbled around for the right words to express the hurt or disappointment another person has caused me. Hearing myself or anyone else utter something akin to, “How would you like it if I did that to you?” or “If I treated you that way, you wouldn’t be very happy!” almost always makes me wince because I know the question rarely moves a conversation forward. In fact, it frequently does just the opposite—and here’s why:
Don’t Hold Grudges. Nobody Wins.
One of the most interesting people I know just happens to be 100 years old. I was thinking about him recently and realized his 100 years on this earth have probably given him quite a bit of insight into conflict and relationships in general. I asked him to share some wisdom with me so that I could share it with you.
Conflict On Aisle Three, Conflict On Aisle Three
Shopping during the holidays can be a real nightmare. Facing parking lots jammed with cars, performing complicated search and rescue efforts to find an available cart, and approaching aisles with your best obstacle course strategies can cause even the most happy-go-lucky holiday shopper to start up a conflict with any stranger who dares cross his path. Delivering an emotionally-charged snarky remark while juggling the sweater you’re buying for Nana doesn’t say much about your ability to spread joy or share in the holiday spirit, now does it.
Because of the Thanksgiving holiday on Thursday I wanted to find something for this week’s blog that would speak to thankfulness (is that a word?). I also got to thinking about ways the holiday season brings out the worst in us and decided to settle on a subject that’s rarely easy to discuss with our loved ones–namely money. So I asked a friend to talk about what it’s been like for him and his family to experience a lay-off in a down economy; what conflicts it’s caused, how they’re dealing with the tension, major points of contention, etc.
A Little Bit About Forgiveness
I participated in a good discussion last week about forgiveness. Okay, I admit it was with two of my nieces on Facebook, but it was a good conversation nonetheless. We went back and forth trying to define forgiveness and as it turns out it’s easier to describe what forgiveness isn’t than it is to define what it is. And, that got me thinking.
Just Try Harder! (Or Not)
Ever want something for another person more than they want it for themselves?
Do Unto Others Or At Least Cut Them Some Slack
A reporter contacted me the other day to ask my opinion about healthy anger versus unhealthy anger on the job. Toward the end of the interview she asked what I thought about the airline employee who made the national news for losing his cool, grabbing a beer, and walking (okay, sliding) off the job. His actions made him an instant folk hero presumably because there isn’t a one of us who hasn’t fantasized about doing the same thing at one time or another.
Five Sure-Fire Ways To Cause Conflict At Work
Being pegged as a troublemaker on the job doesn’t do much for building a reputation as a team player--or a leader, for that matter. Whether you’re looking for your first real job or can see the light at the end of a lustrous career tunnel, it makes good business sense to be aware of how your actions with coworkers can either create a positive working environment or turn an otherwise slightly dysfunctional workplace into a fully-armed battlefield.
Ten Things You Can Control In A Workplace Conflict
Let’s face it; we often spend more hours with the people we work with than we do our family and friends. Sometimes, if we’re lucky, our best friends *are* our co-workers. But even in the best of times it’s not unusual to be faced with the guy three cubicles down from yours whom you’d just as soon clobber than look at again.
“I’m Sorry You’re Such A Crybaby” Isn’t Really An Apology
You’ve more than likely heard one before and you may have even delivered a few yourself--an apology that isn’t really an apology at all. You know the ones; the zingers, veiled threats, and personal attacks that the speaker believes should earn him points for saying he’s sorry.
Four Reasons Why Your (Supposedly-Lousy) Boss Avoids Conflicts
Is it just me or do some managers have a special knack for looking the other way when it comes to bad behavior and conflict on the job?