[Strategy] What is Conflict? For the Peacebuilder

Conflict is a process of change, if you believe in the process view of conflict. Changes can’t happen unless internal conflicts lead to an external conflict that changes parties.

However, if you search Google, what parties really believe about conflict shines through:

  • How do I get out of my marriage?
  • How do I get away with it?
  • What is the best way to get a divorce?
  • How do I cheat?
  • How do I get away from my wife?
  • How do I get away from my husband?
  • What does divorce do to children?
  • How do I get my boss fired?
  • How do I avoid getting fired by my boss?
  • How do I get a different job?

Our Google searches reveal our inner truths. They reveal our inner desires to avoid, delay, surrender, or negate the uncomfortable process that lead to changes that inevitably must happen in our lives if they are to improve for the better. A better we can neither understand, nor see, in the present of our short-term fears.

Our Google searches reveal that, for many of us, the answer to the question “What is conflict?” is “A negative thing that makes me uncomfortable and that needs to be avoided—or made to go away—at all costs.”

Our Google searches reveal that our resistance to change is strong, our comfort with conflict is deep, and our view of the conflict, the process of getting through it, and the changes on the other side of it, are deeply negative.

Which is why, if you’re a conflict resolution practitioner, your work is cut out for you. But not in getting parties to resolution.

Your work—your deep emotional labor—lies in doing the digging to persuade and convince well-meaning parties in conflict (and those yet to be in conflict) to chip away at the cruft surrounding their preconceived notions, revealed through Google searches, of conflict as a negative.

As a conflict practitioner, this is your process of change.

What do your Google searches reveal about how you view conflict?

[H/T] Justin R. Corbett

[Advice] A Positive No

The moment that you are ready to leave the office, complete a project, take a phone call, or meet a deadline, another person walks up.

This person has other priorities, but finding out what those are is not the thing that you are interested in, but that person makes sure to tell you all about their priorities.

The thing about time management is that managing other people is the unsung, unconsidered hardest thing to do.

Other people have their own priorities, and we are too embarrassed, too distracted, or too disinterested to discover what they are.

This is when the positive no, or the sandwich no, becomes the best way to address the energy vampires (or time sucks) that other people can be sometimes.

It goes something like this:

“Thank you for coming to me with [insert whatever the topic is here]. No, I don’t have time to talk about this right now. But, please come back [name a definitive later time here] and I will talk with you then.”

Then, put that time vampire on the calendar, turn around, and walk away firmly. This last part is important, because many people can’t close the conversation.

When using a positive no—or a sandwich no—remember to always be closing.

-Peace Be With You All-

Jesan Sorrells, MA
Principal Conflict Engagement Consultant
Human Services Consulting and Training (HSCT)
Email HSCT: hsconsultingandtraining@gmail.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/HSConsultingandTraining
Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/Sorrells79
LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/in/jesansorrells/
HSCT’s website: http://www.hsconsultingandtraining.com

Guest Blogger Diane Lange: Which Comes First: A Crisis of Trust or a Crisis of Leadership?

The Human Services Consulting and Training (HSCT) guest blogger for this week is Diane Lange.

Diane is the president and owner of Proclivity, LLC(www.proclivityllc.com).

Proclivity, LLC., based in Binghamton, NY is a business leadership consulting firm, dedicated to the principle that “every person and every organization has a natural inclination to be the very best.”

Ms. Lange has over 20 years of experience in organizational development, consulting, addressing quality-of-life issues in the workplace, and assisting in the design and development of change initiatives in organizations.

Ms. Lange is a member of the Society of Human Resource Management Professionals (SHRM) and the American Society for Training and Development (ASTD).

She is thoroughly committed to developing excellence in others and in their organizations.

Ms. Lange can be reached via email to answer inquiries or to make and appointment at diane@proclivityllc.com.

We here at Human Services Consulting and Training (HSCT) admire her work and believe that cross-over from what we specialize in (conflict engagement consulting with small businesses, churches and higher education organizations) with what Ms. Lange and Proclivity, LLC., specializes in, can spur growth, attract new customers and clients and lead to a better, more collaborative future for everyone.

Happy Employees
Listen up bosses; according to a study published by the Harvard Business Review in 2009, a majority of people reported that they trust a stranger more than they trust their boss.  If you’re like me, you had to read that twice. Worse yet, Michelle McQuaid, a world leader in positive psychology conducted a survey of 1000 American executives and found that a staggering 35 percent of Americans are happy at their job while the other 65 percent said they would rather have a better boss than a pay raise. And you thought the almighty dollar ruled.
Given these statistics, it is no wonder that people leave their jobs. As the old adage says, “people leave managers, not organizations” and according to Gallup the number one reason people leave organizations is because of bad managers and leaders. Managers may be bad for a variety of reasons and one of the reasons is failing to establish a trusting relationship with their staff.  Essential work relationships can be marred or destroyed by a leader’s actions that cross boundaries, break rules, or demonstrate arrogant attitudes that reflect a belief that the rules don’t apply to them. Unfortunately, every time we hear news stories that leaders do something illegal, immoral, or unethical it further erodes what little trust we have left.

But the actions that ruin trust don’t need to be as big as all that; they can be as subtle as ‘little white lies’. I worked for a boss who told me and my team an explanation that we all knew to be untrue. Though we liked the boss, once the lie was said we were very disappointed; we felt betrayed, we kept our distance and we thought twice about what information we would share. Once the distrust was established something intangible yet very important was lost – respect. Communication would never be the same and we would never again feel safe.

My example isn’t unique. Forbes reports that 82% of those surveyed didn’t think their bosses tell them truth.  Sadly, now I join that 82%.  And there is more disturbing information. Edelman’s Trust Barometer for 2013 – one of the largest surveys of its kind to date – recently released results from 31,000 international participants and reported that only 18% of the respondents trust that business leaders tell the truth.

All of this has an obvious effect on our businesses and organizations; employees are stressed and disengaged and Gallup polls tell us that poorly managed teams are, on average, 50% less productive and 44% less profitable than well-managed teams. The negative impact of distrust, poor relationships and poor management in the workplace has ripple effects that go wide and deep. Good leaders understand that positive relationships and trust are not just HR ‘niceties’, but are essentials for improved moral, better team work, fewer sick days, superior performance, decreased turnover and increased profitability.

Many have said this situation points to a crisis in leadership, and if leadership is in crisis then so too are their followers. The truth is that leadership implies followers, and without followers, we are fooling ourselves if we think we’re a leader. If we do have followers, are they staying because they want to be or because they have to be? In some arenas followers are there by choice, but in most organizations, staff has little choice about following a leader unless they vote with their feet and leave the organization in favor of another leader.

But, if our followers stay and are stressed, disengaged, distrustful and miserable how effective is our leadership?  Chris Hitch, Program Director at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s Kenan-Flagler Business School deftly summarizes it when he said, “Unfortunately, many senior leaders cannot seem to shake the top-down model of management that adheres to the notion that authority creates trust. In reality, trust creates authority.”
Can a person be a leader if he or she is not trustworthy? Our experiences tell us ‘no’ and so too do the surveys that abound. Anyone can have a leadership title, but that doesn’t make one an effective, trust-worthy leader. Trust is a by-product of one’s actions and behaviors in the relationships they have with those around them, especially with their direct reports. Trust cannot be mandated or bought; it can only be earned one interaction, one word, and one day at a time.

So how does one go about building trust? The answer is simple, but not necessarily easy. Look inside; who do you trust? What do they do? Who don’t you trust? What do they do?

              Probably the people who earn your trust are good communicators who tell the truth, follow through on promises, act with a high degree of integrity, and value positive relationships with whom they live and work. Those who practice these actions will not only be trusted but will also be looked upon as leaders, because people will voluntarily follow them. If one hasn’t built and earned trust, people will never voluntarily follow and that is a crisis in both trust and leadership.
Article Citations
© Proclivity LLC 2013
-Peace Be With You All-
Jesan Sorrells, MA
Principal Mediator/Consultant
Human Services Consulting and Training (HSCT)
Follow the Human-Services-Consulting-and-Trainingpage on Facebook
Follow our Principle Consultant, Jesan Sorrells, on Twitter: www.twitter.com/Sorrells79
Connect with HSCT on LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/jesansorrells/
Email HSCT questions or comments at: hsconsultingandtraining@gmail.com

Check out HSCT’s NEW website: http://hsconsultingandtrain.wix.com/hsct