Last week I had the opportunity to attend the 21st Annual SHRM-Atlanta HR Conference — and it was quite an event! Attendees were welcomed to opening remarks by SHRM President and CEO Hank Jackson, who also talked about 2012 focus areas– and of course, next year’s national conference being held in our fince city of Atlanta. There was also the moving and inspiring key note from Kat Cole, President of Cinnabon — don’t miss Alex Putnam’s post on what Kat’s address meant to him! There were also a host of sessions across several tracks that made it very hard to choose what to select!
The very first session I attended was on Leadership and Conflict by Sylvia Lafair, PhD, President of CEO – Creative Energy Options, Inc., and author of “Don’t Bring It to Work”. Sylvia made a simple, yet very profound statement that we have to begin to see separating who we are at work and who we are at home is really just an illusion. Boom!! She is so right – who we are and the things we experience at home, does affect us at work. As such, we really do have to take this into account when dealing with conflict in the work place. My friend, Dr. Daniel Crosby of Incblot, wrote a very moving and personal post recently that touches on this concept – check it out here.
We all deal with conflict in different ways…as Sylvia pointed out, most of us either Fight, take Flight, or just Freeze, like a deer in headlights. The problem is we get stuck into patterns in times of conflict and fall back on repetitive reactions that “…keep us stuck in the world of ‘always’ and ‘never’…”. Understanding common patterns in people — and what affect these patterns can have on the team — is a critical part of dealing with conflicts that can arise due to these patterns. This is crucial to keeping the people on your team engaged in a productive and trusting work environment. She outlined many common patterns you do see such as:
- The Super Achiever – must win at all costs.
- The Rebel – can’t accept any authority.
- The Procrastinator – won’t finish anything.
- The Clown – reduces everything to a joke.
- The Persecutor – bullies people into misery.
- The Victim – too scared to take any action.
- The Rescuer – demands to be the big hero.
- The Drama Queen/King – makes emotional scenes.
- The Martyr – does everyone else’s work.
- The Pleaser – say what folks want to hear.
- The Avoider – dodges work and responsibility.
- The Denier – won’t face problems directly.
- The Splitter – secretly sets up conflict.
She acknowledges there are others, but the most important thing is that you do deal with it and outlined some simple steps to handle. First and foremost is you must
1) Cool down by trying some deep breathing exercises to get your mind right and focused to talk this out.
2) Slow down and identify what buttons were pushed and what ways you think could help move things forward.
3) Play down by ‘owning’ your own pattern of behavior an how this could be contributing to the conflict
4) Sit down, preferably in a quiet, private area to discuss the things identified above – sans blame, judgements, or attacks – in the spirit of open and honesty and a desire for positive change. It may help to practice first!
5) …and finally….Touchdown!! It’s time to celebrate and do whatever necessary to celebrate and reinforce a solution!
Simple steps, but certainly ones we rarely take the time to do – at home or at work. If you are looking for some advice on the “sitting down” part, Sylvia describes her O-U-T technique in this recent SHRM-Atlanta post, Conflict, Relationships, and Pollution. Or, of course, check out Sylvia’s book, as well as the presentation found on the SHRM-Atlanta web site!!Share