Workplace Magic: Almost Instant Conflict Management

This technique is for people directly involved in a conflict, not their managers, employees or business partners. It only works for those who actually have the power to end the conflict.

The Three Things You Have To Realize

1. Conflict isn’t about the facts, it’s about the feelings. If you are in conflict, you feel that you have been cheated, betrayed, victimized, helpless (disempowered), unfairly blamed, abandoned, unjustly penalized, ignored, marginalized, discriminated against or whatever. And you feel angry. Perhaps you feel hurt.

2. Most conflict is petty. It just doesn’t feel petty to the people involved. That is to say, the actual facts or cause of the feelings behind the conflict are petty. Most of the time, the causes of conflict are repeated annoyances by people who can’t get away from one another.

Conflicts usually involve things like offices mates who constantly talk too much or too loudly on the phone while you try to work. Or people who drop into your office or cubicle to whine and complain and waste your time. Or people who manipulate things so you end up doing their work. Or people who gossip about you. People who tell lies about you. Bosses who don’t back you or support you. Bosses who don’t listen when you report issues that affect your work. Bosses who ignore your expert advice, which you were hired to give them. Or senseless office rules that interfere with your work or your ability to perform your best.

Sure, there are plenty of things that happen that are serious. And you need to deal with those, too. But most the most common conflict you find at work is in the nature of what psychologists call simple “ego injuries.” You feel hurt and angry because something bothersome is going on that you can’t control and it makes you feel powerless and unimportant.

3. The person who controls his emotions wins the conflict. Because ending the conflict is winning. If you take charge of your emotions you take the power in the conflict. Regardless of rank, status or relative strength.


The Two Things You Have To Do


1. Refuse engagement or disengage from conflict — let it go. The conflict can only remain if both parties contend. You can let it go if you accept this one simple fact as truth: no matter what you do you cannot directly change (or fix) another person or another person’s behavior. (It also helps to realize that you can’t change his mind, beliefs or feelings, either. At least not directly.)

The conflict is about your trying to change someone else or his/her behavior. By some sort of force. That person is resisting. He thinks he’s right. He knows he’s right. He feels he’s right. It’s like trying to change someone’s religion or politics. Can’t be done.

But think about it for a moment. You, too, think you are right and that the other person is wrong. He can’t change you either. The real conflict in a conflict is each side trying to force the other to do something he doesn’t want to do. It doesn’t have to do with who’s right or wrong. It doesn’t even have to do with who is stronger. It has to do with how you get and use power. And the only real power to change is the power you use to control your own feelings and behavior.

You can change how you look at what is happening and change what you do. You can stop struggling to get the other person to change.

You can start doing things that make the other party have to change in response to your behavior. Or you can do something that makes his behavior irrelevant. For example, if the person is constantly annoying you with noise, you can simply ignore him and wear headphones with noise cancellation or earplugs.

Sure, he’s an inconsiderate pig. So what? Your real solution is to stop the noise, not reform the pig. You can go directly for the end result you want through your own power rather than through trying to force a solution on someone over whom you have no power.

2. Explore and plan for resolution of the underlying dispute — even if only you, all by yourself, work out the plan and create the outcome. Once you have accepted that the only thing you really have control over is yourself, you can get clear on how to solve your problem without involving the other party in the solution.

If you choose to disengage from conflict, the conflict is over. Almost instantly. Seemingly magically. And it reveals to you that, all along, you had the power you had to get what you really needed.

The following two YouTube videos have different perspectives and different issues involved in workplace conflict.

Depersonalizing Petty Personality Issues.

This video by Ed Trimnell is addressed to someone who is rather new to the workplace, but it works for anyone:

4 Magic Phrases.

This video by Daniel O’Connor of Power Diversity takes on the issue of how to respond to negativity in workplace communication. It’s both entertaining and helpful.


Overcoming Resistance to Work

This morning, I published an article on about the most usual reasons people avoid work or finishing projects.

When you avoid doing something like work, psychologists call the avoidance “resistance.” And resistance — especially if it continues for a long time — is very difficult to break through. That’s because you just naturally resist any change. So your resistance to work also features a resistance to change the resistance!

It may be easy to understand why you’d avoid work assigned to you by others. But you also avoid doing work on projects you started for yourself. Even projects that you once loved and which represented cherished dreams. Lots of folks find that befuddling.

Whether you are avoiding work you hate or work you love, read the article and find a neat, simple trick that can bypass resistance. Get it here: You Already Know What To Do, You Already Have What You Need To Do It and You’re Ready

Forget Resolutions – Three Questions to Ask Yourself for the New Year

The end of one year and the beginning of another marks a psychological passage. That’s why folks make new year’s resolutions.

But resolutions are too specific for an entire year’s goals. They make you reflect on behaviors that have too low an impact to be taken seriously by your unconscious wants and needs. You need to think bigger.

You need to ask the “big” questions. When you’ve answered them, you’ll have a better idea of how to plan the smaller goals that help you achieve your life goals.

You should regularly check up on yourself about the following issues. Yet, few people think about them until they’re so unhappy and frustrated that they must. Or until they go to a therapist. Do yourself a favor and review these questions at least once a year.

1. Am I doing what I want to be doing with my life?

This question makes you consider all kinds of sub-questions: Am I in the right kind of work? Am I working for an organization I can respect? Am I happy in my job? If I have to stay in a job I hate, how can I survive the stress? If I have a job I love, how can I be sure to keep it? Am I preparing for the skills I may need to advance in the future to what I want to do or continue to do? What kind of work makes me happy? Do I have enough time to pursue my outside interests? Am I making enough time for friends and family?

You know what you need to consider to be satisfied that you are leading the life you want and should be living. Ask the first question and keep asking for everything you need to know. Then you’ll know what you need to do.

If you are deeply dissatisfied with your work or your life, your performance and productivity will suffer drastically. If you make yourself happy or even simply satisfied, your productivity and performance will soar.

2. Am I with people who support and care for me?

When you were a kid, your parents warned you against falling in with “bad company.” Also known as “stay away from that jerk!”

At work and at home, your success, failure and happiness depend greatly on the quality of your friends and family. And your co-workers. And your bosses.

You are a social being. You do not do well without support from others. Yes, you have to have the ability to think independently and, when necessary, act contrarily to popular opinion. However, you can’t function well without a decent amount of agreement, encouragement, respect and goodwill from others.

Are you getting that at work and home? What can you do to make sure you get it or keep it?

3. Do I love and respect myself?

The self-esteem question is essential to thriving in both work-life and home-life. No matter how much support and respect you get from outside, you have to have an internal support system as well. It should include developing and following your own set of ideals, principles and moral code.

Positive self-regard is what enables you to say no to work you don’t want to do. It helps you to refuse to contact people who bring you down. It helps you make your own time schedule and get things done on time, in your own way. It helps you refuse to engage with people who are pushing your anger buttons.

It is your psychological armor.

If you have it, how are you going to make sure you keep it? If you don’t, how are you going to get it?

Yeah. Well, I did say they were the big questions. At least I didn’t recommend “who am I?” or “what is my purpose in the universe?” This isn’t a philosophy course. It is, however, an article written for a blog about human performance and productivity.