Reducing Conflict 61 Your Conflict Reduction Reputation

October 2, 2022

Do you know your conflict reduction reputation?  That is a key element to your success as a leader. Some leaders are really good at resolving issues of conflict while others focus on preventing them. Having a reputation for being good at both things would be great.

The key to preventing conflict

People in any organization are going to have conflicts from time to time.  This series has been all about how to resolve conflict in the workplace and in your private life. The key is to anticipate that things will sometimes get people upset. If you have a nose for this common problem, you can often take corrective action before active conflict erupts.

The impact of culture

If you have established a culture of respect and trust, conflict is going to have a hard time taking hold.  People will express when something does not feel right before they get upset about it. This open communication gives time for the leaders to go back to their sense of purpose and values.

Follow the body language

Often times impending conflict can be seen in a change in body language.  One person may look across the room to a buddy and roll his eyes.  It might be a case of raised eyebrows or dilated pupils.  Keep a sharp eye out for unusual body language signals.  Flaring nostrils or a clenched jaw might signal a person who is ready to explode.

Intervene before the conflict breaks out in the open

There is usually time to calm people down by pointing out that we are all on the same team.  You may be able to get the disagreeing individuals to express their feelings in an open discussion.

Sometimes the parties are just not hearing each other.  They are talking past the other person, and the points become lost in the vacuum. Keep an ear out for a raised voice or higher pitch than usual. In this instance, it is helpful to have each person slow down enough to give the key points. Then have the other person repeat back what they heard.

Both parties must understand both points of view with an open mind. It is also OK to agree to disagree.  Just because you have a different opinion on a topic doesn’t mean you cannot work with the other person.

Bring the values into the equation

Often some of the values that people have agreed upon are violated in the heat of conflict. If this is the case, bring the individuals back to a sense of accountability for following the values.

Conclusion

Have a reputation for being a peacemaker in your organization. You can do this by following the tips in this article.  Always be alert for the signals of escalating rancor and intervene early for the best result.

 

Bob Whipple, MBA, CPTD, is a consultant, trainer, speaker, and author in the areas of leadership and trust.  He is the author of The Trust Factor: Advanced Leadership for Professionals, Understanding E-Body Language: Building Trust Online, and Leading with Trust is Like Sailing Downwind.  Bob has many years as a senior executive with a Fortune 500 Company and with non-profit organizations.


Reducing Conflict 60 Remote Conflict

September 26, 2022

Remote conflict can be very difficult to resolve. In this article I will share a true story of how two teams of people were in deep conflict. It is amazing how quickly it was resolved.

A new type of disk drive

In the late 1980s, I was the program manager for a new type of floppy disk drive. It had more than double the capacity of existing drives.  There were two groups involved in the project.  The equipment team was in Rochester, NY, and the media group was in San Diego.

Late in the development, a problem arose that stopped us in our tracks. It was some type of compatibility issue. The media team in San Diego was convinced it was a hardware problem.  Naturally, the hardware team in Rochester believed the problem was with the media.

We versus they thinking

For three weeks we struggled to pinpoint the problem and get the program back on track. We had almost daily phone calls and numerous email messages with data.  There was a kind of language that was polarizing the two groups. I kept hearing “we versus they” language when people tried to describe their experiments. They would say “we wanted to try a different head, but they thought it was a waste of time.”

No viable solution

Regardless of the continuing effort from each group, we were making no progress toward a resolution.  I finally had enough. On an afternoon phone call, I made an announcement. We would get a small group of the equipment team on an airplane that afternoon. They would arrive at the media plant in the morning.

Sugar cookies

When the teams got face to face in the same room the atmosphere changed.  I witnessed the brainstorming, and within an hour a solution popped out like a batch of sugar cookies. They were able to communicate in a different way and all the defensive language stopped. Looking back on it, both teams agreed that we should have been able to see the solution. It just did not occur until people were face to face.

Conclusion

Remote and hybrid work is common these days, and it is likely to be so forever. Listen for “we versus they” language and take steps to get people physically together if there is an impasse.

Look for the language in virtual conversations and also in email. Once you get good at spotting polarized thinking, you can intervene earlier and save a lot of grief.

 

 

Bob Whipple, MBA, CPTD, is a consultant, trainer, speaker, and author in the areas of leadership and trust.  He is the author of The Trust Factor: Advanced Leadership for Professionals, Understanding E-Body Language: Building Trust Online, and Leading with Trust is Like Sailing Downwind.  Bob has many years as a senior executive with a Fortune 500 Company and with non-profit organizations.  For more information, or to bring Bob in to speak at your next event, contact him at www.Leadergrow.com, bwhipple@leadergrow.com or 585.392.7763.


Reducing Conflict 59 Why Not?

September 19, 2022

When trying to reduce conflict use the phrase “why not” more often to lower the tension. The difference between “why” and “why not” seems very subtle.  I think there is a psychological case for using the latter more often.

Asking why makes people defensive

When you ask people why they are doing something you put them on the spot.  They normally will have a defensive reaction that tries to justify what they are doing or thinking. That reaction sets off an adversarial exchange in many situations.

Asking why not is a softer approach

If instead, you would suggest “why not consider this alternate approach” it seems less threatening. Let’s unpack a situation that happens often to leaders as an example.

Typical leadership issue

Many leaders are quick to give their opinion about a current topic. That action often cuts off discussion among the group and leads to a lack of creativity. One way to approach this leader is with a question about why. “Why do you always give your response before others have a chance to respond?”

That approach would trigger a defensive response from the leader.  “I am just trying to be transparent so people know where I stand.” If you then point out that the action stifles open discussion, you are likely to get a negative reaction.

A better approach

Ask instead, “Why not let others speak before revealing your own feelings?” That more positive approach would be more likely to lead to a constructive conversation. You are really asking what would be the impact if the leader changed the pattern. The leader does not need to defend his historical approach.

Conclusion

You can still get into a tangle by using why not, but I believe the odds are better. It seems like a more constructive approach that should lower the rancor.

Bob Whipple, MBA, CPTD, is a consultant, trainer, speaker, and author in the areas of leadership and trust.  He is the author of The Trust Factor: Advanced Leadership for Professionals, Understanding E-Body Language: Building Trust Online, and Leading with Trust is Like Sailing Downwind.  Bob has many years as a senior executive with a Fortune 500 Company and with non-profit organizations.  For more information, or to bring Bob in to speak at your next event, contact him at www.Leadergrow.com, bwhipple@leadergrow.com or 585.392.7763.


Reducing Conflict 58 The Mediator Role

September 11, 2022

When two people are in conflict, having someone play the mediator role is often very helpful. There is an important caveat that the mediator needs to do a good job or things can get worse. This article has some tips on how to mediate a conflict effectively.

Gain Control

The first order of business is to get the two parties to calm down and stop shouting at each other.  Typically when two people are in extreme conflict they interrupt each other. They do not even hear the points being made by the other person.

The mediator should get the parties to sit down across from each other in a quiet room. She should speak in a low and calm voice.  One helpful technique is to get the warring parties to agree on something.  I like to get an agreement that both people would like some kind of resolution. That way they can go back to work feeling better. 

By getting both parties to agree on something, you have established a platform that you can build on.

Objectives

It helps if the mediator has a few basic objectives in mind from the start:

  1. You want to end up with both parties feeling better.
  2. Each person needs to feel heard and understood.
  3. There should be some form of agreement on deportment going forward.
  4. Dispense with the idea of one party being right and the other being wrong.
  5. Seek out areas on which both parties already agree.
  6. State the area of disagreement as clearly as possible. Get to the root of the issue.
  7. Rule out any uncivil language or gestures. Keep it constructive.

Keep deliberations conversational

Keeping both parties calm and civil is a top priority. If they regress to shouting or other inappropriate actions, stop the process and regain control. It is essential that both parties feel heard and respected along the way.  You are seeking to facilitate understanding first before the agreement. It is a good idea to ask for cooperation in the dialog. If they forget, remind them of their intent to help.

Take notes

It helps to document areas of agreement so there is a list of things both parties agree upon. That list forms the basis for forward progress during the session. It also contains evidence that both parties can refer to later. 

Sometimes Reversing roles is helpful

If each party cannot see the logic in the other person’s argument, getting them to reverse roles can help.  By taking the side of the other person, then there is at least a full understanding. That can represent progress toward an agreement.

A resolution can be to agree to disagree

Sometimes full agreement is not possible. It does not prevent the two people from working well together in the future. Make allowance for there being two legitimate ways of viewing a topic and move forward with that understanding.

Before adjourning get both parties to verbalize any agreement

It is important for both people to say what was accomplished in the conversation. Full agreement was not possible. At least the rancor is now resolved and both parties can part ways feeling better.

Summary

Playing the role of the mediator is a tricky assignment.  You can be more successful if you follow the ideas listed above.

Bob Whipple, MBA, CPTD, is a consultant, trainer, speaker, and author in the areas of leadership and trust.  He is the author of The Trust Factor: Advanced Leadership for Professionals, Understanding E-Body Language: Building Trust Online, and Leading with Trust is Like Sailing Downwind.  Bob has many years as a senior executive with a Fortune 500 Company and with non-profit organizations.  For more information, or to bring Bob in to speak at your next event, contact him at www.Leadergrow.com, bwhipple@leadergrow.com or 585.392.7763.


Reducing Conflict 57 Emotional Intelligence Post COVID

September 5, 2022

Enhancing the level of Emotional Intelligence will reduce conflict in your organization, especially post-COVID.

In the 1980s several social scientists developed the concept of Emotional Intelligence (commonly called EI). EI is a measure of the ability of an individual to work well with people at all levels. Higher Emotional Intelligence is a good predictor of success in professional life and also in social activities.

Founders of the concepts

Keith Beasley coined the term Emotional Quotient (EQ)in 1987. The term “Emotional Intelligence” was popularized by Daniel Goleman in the mid-1990s. Goleman wrote several books and articles on the topic and he is still active today.

It is possible to develop one’s Emotional Intelligence rather easily at any point in life. We have the ability to train our brains to react differently to current conditions. That is a highly liberating thought. It means that we can reduce conflict in our lives through study to develop higher EI.

Another helpful book

One of my favorite books on Emotional Intelligence is by Travis Bradberry and Jean Greaves entitled Emotional Intelligence 2.0. If you have not been exposed to this book, perhaps this article will whet your appetite to purchase it.

More relevant in a post-COVID World

Although they published the book 13 years ago, the techniques are critical in our post-COVID world. EI allows people to hear each other accurately so true needs surface. EI fights against a “command and control” mentality on the part of leaders. Unfortunately, many leaders still have a command and control mindset and do not even realize it.

During the pandemic, most people were working remotely. As managers tried to keep productivity high. they resorted to many different tracking systems. People felt lower trust and higher scrutiny for more than two years.  In the hybrid situation, people are still feeling lower trust, and that has a negative impact on productivity.

Managers need to redouble their efforts to improve Emotional Intelligence based on their actions. Read and heed the information in Emotional Intelligence 2.0.

About the book

The authors start out by giving a single-sentence definition of Emotional Intelligence “Emotional Intelligence is your ability to recognize and understand emotions in yourself and others and your ability to use this awareness to manage your behavior and relationships.” This leads to a description of the four quadrants of EI.

1. Self Awareness – ability to recognize your own emotions
2. Manage your emotions – manage your emotions to enable helpful behavior
3. Social Awareness – understand emotions in others (also called empathy)
4. Relationship Management – manage interactions for successful outcomes

The book contains a link to an online survey that lets you measure your own EI. This survey is an interesting exercise, but it lacks validity because people with low EI have blind spots.

Be careful about rating yourself

You might rate yourself highly in EI when the reality is somewhat lower. At least you can compare your current perceptions to a future state after you have made some improvements.

How to use the book

Most of the book consists of potential strategies for improving Emotional Intelligence in the four quadrants described above. You get to pick the quadrant to work on. Also, you select strategies that would work best for you.

The approach is to work on only one quadrant, using three strategies at a time for the most impact. They also suggest getting an EI Mentor whom you select.

Work on your EI for about six months and retest for progress, then select a different quadrant.

Training your own brain

Train your brain to work slightly differently. Create new neural pathways from the emotional side of the brain to the rational side of the brain. I like to use a video analogy of plowing a driveway in your brain to describe how it works.

We are bombarded by stimuli every day. These stimuli enter our brain through the spinal cord and immediately go to the limbic system. That hemisphere is the emotional (right) side of the brain.

That process is why we first have an emotional reaction to stimuli and often flash out at other people. The signals have to travel to the rational side of the brain for us to have a conscious reaction. We then decide on our course of action. To do this, the electrical signal navigates along a kind of driveway in our brain called the Corpus Callosum.

The Corpus Callosum is a fibrous flat belt of tissue that connects the right and left hemispheres. How quickly the signals move through the Corpus Callosum determines how effective we will be at controlling our emotions.

As we improve our EI, what we are doing is plowing the snow out of the way in the Corpus Callosum. The result is that the signals can transfer more easily and we see less conflict in our lives.

Working with the concept of EI is an effective way to improve our effectiveness in this critical skill.

Roughly 60% of performance is a function of Emotional Intelligence. We now have an easy and almost-free mechanism to improve our interpersonal skills and reduce conflict.

Conclusion

I hope you will purchase this little book, particularly if you are a leader. It can change your life. For leaders, EI is the most consistent way to improve performance and be more successful with less conflict. The skills are particularly important in a time of turmoil such as the post-COVID environment.

 

Bob Whipple, MBA, CPTD, is a consultant, trainer, speaker, and author in the areas of leadership and trust.  He is the author of: The Trust Factor: Advanced Leadership for Professionals, Understanding E-Body Language: Building Trust Online, and Leading with Trust is Like Sailing Downwind.  Bob has many years as a senior executive with a Fortune 500 Company and with non-profit organizations.  For more information, or to bring Bob in to speak at your next event, contact him at www.Leadergrow.com, bwhipple@leadergrow.com or 585.392.7763


Reducing Conflict 56 Get Outside of your Box

August 29, 2022

You need to get outside of your box.  Sometimes people forget what this statement means.

You are in a box when you are imposing some kind of walls or barriers that contain you. They prevent the freedom to do things that would enrich your life in some way. I doubt there is a person who is not in some kind of a box. 

Here are some tips for recognizing the boxes you are allowing for yourself and getting out of them.

Take Personal Responsibility

It is easy to blame circumstances or a host of external factors for a feeling of helplessness. Blaming external factors is really taking the easy way out.  You almost always have the ability to at least influence external factors. You always have the opportunity to choose your reaction to them. Step up to the personal power that you have. You can find creative ways to burrow through the sides of boxes that constrain you.

Learn to Recognize Your Boxes

It is important to feel the joy of what it might be like to get outside of your box. My grandfather made a plaque that now hangs in my shop. It reads, “Success comes in cans…failures in can’ts.”  Whenever you think you cannot do something, that is a signal that you are in some kind of box. That may be a good or bad thing, but at least you need to be conscious of it.

Look For Creative Solutions

Sometimes taking an indirect approach is an easy way to experience something. Although you may not be into ski-jumping, you can still experience the thrill vicariously in many ways.

Listen To Your Inner Voice

Pay attention to your bucket list.  Make sure you find ways to pursue these dreams in some ways. 

Document Your Goals

Goals are what pull us forward. If you write down your goals, it will double your chances of making them happen. 

Just Do It

Too many people are living on a desert island called “Someday Isle.” Do you know how many people have started a book but never finished it? You probably know people who say “I’ve got a book in me, and someday I am going to get to it.” 

Or someone else might say, “Someday I am going to take a cruise.” I think you need to be careful with the phrase, “someday I’ll…” It means you are content to sit in your box and perpetually dream about some other experience.

What a tragedy to be on your deathbed and regret missing things that you always dreamed of doing. If you are no longer physically able to climb your mountain, at least you can go to the mountain. You can, see it, and smell the fresh air.

Have the resolve to experience some of the things that you have imagined in your dreams. If you are creative, there are ways to rip open the side of your box or perhaps create a bigger box.  What fun! Isn’t that what life is supposed to be all about?

 

Bob Whipple, MBA, CPTD, is a consultant, trainer, speaker, and author in the areas of leadership and trust.  He is the author of: The Trust Factor: Advanced Leadership for Professionals, Understanding E-Body Language: Building Trust Online, and Leading with Trust is Like Sailing Downwind.  Bob has many years as a senior executive with a Fortune 500 Company and with non-profit organizations.  For more information, or to bring Bob in to speak at your next event, contact him at www.Leadergrow.com, bwhipple@leadergrow.com or 585.392.7763.

 


Reducing Conflict 55 Avoiding Drama

August 22, 2022

In a recent class, the students were lamenting that drama in the workplace is disruptive to good teamwork. Unfortunately, drama is part of the human condition. I am sure you have experienced unwanted drama and wished there were ways to reduce it.

It is worse since the pandemic

I believe there is more drama over the past couple of years as a result of all the social turmoil. We are more stressed in all areas of life, and that leads to increased drama for many people.

Different kinds of drama

One precaution: There are various different kinds of drama and many different symptoms and sources. In this article, I am discussing the most common kind of drama in the workplace. This is where a person acts out his or her daily frustrations. It creates chaos and loss of focus that hurt the productivity, effectiveness, and teamwork of the group. I am not addressing the serious drama caused by mental illness or tragic events.

The root cause of most drama

Let’s take a look at the seeds of this problem to identify some mitigating strategies. Drama is a result of people who feel they are not being heard. If people believe their opinions are included in the decision process, then there is less drama. It is a more significant challenge in times of remote or hybrid work. Leaders need to make a special effort to include all people in decisions. If the culture is real, and people are not playing games, then the drama will be significantly reduced. 

It is a function of leadership to establish the culture. This is where people see little need for drama in order to be a vital part of the action.

Tips to reduce Drama

  1. Improve the level of trust. High trust groups respect people. There is a feeling of inclusiveness that does not require high profile actions to get attention.
  2. Anticipate needs. Be proactive at sensing when people need to be heard and provide the opportunity before they become frustrated. Make sure to reach out to remote workers often.
  3. Respect outliers. When someone’s view is contrary to the majority, there may be valid points to consider. Do not ignore the valuable insights of all people.
  4. Hear people out and consider their input seriously. Positive body language is essential to show respect for all people.
  5. Work on your own humility. Climbing down off your pedestal means that you are more willing to be on an equal footing with others.
  6. Admit mistakes. You gain respect when you are honest about the blunders that you make. People will act out less in response to your foibles if they see you willing to be vulnerable.
  7. Reinforce people well. Providing sincere praise is one way to show respect. This reduces people’s tendency to say “Hey don’t forget about me over here.”

We must also realize that some people are world-class at creating drama. For these people, it is a kind of sport. They do it to gain inappropriate attention or just to be disruptive. These people need coaching to know their antics are not really helping drive the goals of the organization.  The leader needs to provide feedback about the issue and set the expectation of improvement. If the drama continues, then the person may be better off in some other organization or function.

Conclusion

Drama is all around us on a daily basis, but good leadership can mitigate the negative impact. That skill keeps bad habits from becoming an organizational albatross.

Bob Whipple is CEO of Leadergrow, Inc. an organization dedicated to growing leaders. He can be reached at bwhipple@leadergrow.com  585-392-7763. Website www.leadergrow.com   BLOG www.thetrustambassador.com He is author of the following books: The Trust Factor: Advanced Leadership for Professionals,  Understanding E-Body Language: Building Trust Online, Leading with Trust is Like Sailing Downwind, and Trust in Transition: Navigating Organizational Change.


Reducing Conflict 54 We vs. They

August 15, 2022

“We versus they” thinking is a common rift between management and workers. This article examines why this symptom is so common and suggests eight ways to mitigate the problem. 

Lack of alignment

The fundamental cause of what I call the “two sides mentality” is a lack of true alignment.  Most organizations invest big bucks into developing a “strategy.”  

Strategy includes things like Values, Vision, Mission, Purpose, Key Result Areas, Tactics, and Measures.  Small groups of managers usually develop these essential concepts. They cloister themselves away in a hotel for a few days to bang out the strategy.

Ancient Methods

Then the discussion turns to communicating this brilliant plan to the mass of workers. The objective is to get workers to “buy in” and commit to the strategy.  Eventually, there is a “rollout” of the information where managers communicate TO the workers. Notice the hackneyed expressions I used above are the actual words used, even today in the real world – amazing!

Managers give the presentation to half-asleep people who are sitting in neat rows trying not to yawn. A few polite questions follow the data dump, and then everybody goes to lunch. The managers meet in their own dining space. They congratulate themselves on clarifying the strategy and getting buy-in from the workers.

What really happened is that the managers demonstrated that they are clueless about how to create true alignment. Culture is created by their actions, not their words. Their attempt to get everybody “on the same page” backfired. It only served to drive the wedge between the management team and the people doing the work. Managers miss the reality that they keep doing the same thing hoping for a different result. 

Some organizations actually do achieve true alignment of purpose throughout the enterprise.  These organizations always blow away groups that have fractured perspectives.

A better way to obtain alignment

Bob and Gregg Vanourek have a whole chapter on alignment in their book, Triple Crown Leadership.   It is an excellent model.  One key point they make is that the elements of the strategy must be developed collaboratively. Great leaders know that for people to truly embrace a concept, they must put their fingerprints on it.  The authors write about how the alignment is a kind of cascade of information with full participation. The whole team generates the information organically over time.

The collaborative process allows all people in the organization to feel true ownership of the plan. The ownership becomes the foundation for alignment. How can leaders create this kind of culture? Here are eight ideas for leaders. They reduce the “we versus they” thinking and obtain the full energy of the team.

1, Leaders need to listen more

Agree upon a set of values that the entire team not only adopts but pledges 100% to live by. It is not enough to simply state the values. For true alignment, all of the values must be demonstrated all the time.

Clarifying a compelling vision of the future is equally vital.

2. Test the viability of concepts and be flexible

As ideas are put forth, look for common themes and keep working the information into a model. Make sure each person feels ownership.

3. Don’t say things you cannot do

 Once a stated value reveals managerial hypocrisy, it does more harm than good to put it on the plaque. It fosters a “They say it, but they don’t mean it” mentality that enables “we versus them.”

4. Don’t “Roll Out” the “Program”

I have found that having a big rollout program is often the kiss of death.  Employees smell a canned program coming a mile away. They will go to the meeting with earplugs firmly inserted.

Instead of the big fanfare, share the information in small groups with lots of dialog.

5. Be willing to admit mistakes

In changing a culture, there will be mistakes made along the way.  When managers admit they made a mistake it demonstrates vulnerability.

6. Build and value trust

Trust becomes the glue that holds the whole organization together in good times and in difficult times.  The culture of any organization is a reflection of the behaviors of the senior leaders more than anything else.

7. Don’t get derailed by short-term thinking

The daily and monthly pressures of any business will test the resolve of the team.  The whole team needs to learn from the challenges and focus on the long-term vision. 

8. Celebrate the small wins as well as the big ones

Recognize and appreciate all of the good things that are going on. Teach people that the reinforcement should come from all levels, not just the managers.  Once the workers start practicing reinforcement of others, magical things begin to happen.

Conclusion

There are numerous other ideas and helpful tips that can add to the success of the team. It is possible to create real alignment where everyone in the organization is truly excited about progress. That culture eliminates the “we versus they” mentality between workers and managers. I wish more organizations could experience such an environment. It all rests on the quality of leaders to create that kind of culture.

Bob Whipple is CEO of Leadergrow, Inc. an organization dedicated to growing leaders. He can be reached at bwhipple@leadergrow.com  585-392-7763. Website www.leadergrow.com   BLOG www.thetrustambassador.com He is author of the following books: The Trust Factor: Advanced Leadership for Professionals,  Understanding E-Body Language: Building Trust Online, Leading with Trust is Like Sailing Downwind, and Trust in Transition: Navigating Organizational Change.


Reducing Conflict 53 Jokes or Not

August 8, 2022

I was having an online conversation about jokes and teams at work. The discussion was relative to having online messages misinterpreted. Clearly, we have all experienced this uncomfortable situation more than once.  I got so fascinated about this topic that I wrote a book on it a few years ago. 

The reader could take it literally

Someone brought up a situation that is common in person as well as online. One person tries to rib another person with a joke, but the receiver takes it literally. Online the damage tends to linger because the message is there to see forever. The writer is astonished when the reader takes umbrage at the barb. Often the writer says, “but I was only joking.” 

When people say or write things in jest, there is usually an element of truth in them. Jokes are often just distortions of reality; that is what makes them humorous.  The problem occurs when a joke puts down another person. This is so common you probably witness it frequently at work. The problem hardly registers because it is ubiquitous. If you are watching for it, you will see it often.

No ability to see the impact

With a verbal jab, it is easy to see the negative reaction through body language. In an email, the sender has no idea the joke caused a negative reaction. Actually, even in person, there is usually a part of the barb that is for real. Online, the danger becomes magnified for two reasons.

  • the person cannot see the facial expression and
  • emails are permanent, so the person can re-read the joke.

The most effective antidote

The antidote for this common problem is to establish five behavioral norms in your workgroup as follows:

  1. We will not make jokes in any forum at another person’s expense.
  2. Praise in public or online but offer constructive criticism face to face in private.
  3. When there is a disconnect in communication, we will always assume the best intent and check it out.
  4. If something in an email seems upsetting, check it out. Meet face to face with the other person as soon as possible.
  5. Call each other out politely if we see violations of these rules.

 

Conclusion

These five rules are not difficult. It does take some resolve to get all people in a population to comply with them.  Get firm agreement among the entire group and post the rules in the team meeting area. Actually follow the five rules above. It will change the entire complexion of the workgroup. This is not rocket science. It is much more important than rocket science.

 

Bob Whipple, MBA, CPTD, is a consultant, trainer, speaker, and author in the areas of leadership and trust.  He is the author of: Trust in Transition: Navigating Organizational Change, The Trust Factor: Advanced Leadership for Professionals, Understanding E-Body Language: Building Trust Online, and Leading with Trust is Like Sailing Downwind.  Bob has many years as a senior executive with a Fortune 500 Company and with non-profit organizations. 


Reducing Conflict 52 Operate Ahead of the Power Curve

August 1, 2022

The power curve is a critical skill area that my first mentor taught me. I was blessed with a wonderful mentor for most of my career.  He and I got along famously, and he taught me a number of leadership skills over the years.

Micromanager

 He was not a perfect manager himself, as he had a tendency to micromanage people.  I found that out early and worked hard to over-communicate with him. I also anticipated what he would ask, so I could usually say, “I already did it.” After a while, he stopped micromanaging me and left me alone to do what I thought was right. 

The Power Curve

One critical skill he taught me was what he called “operating ahead of the power curve.”  It took me a while to figure out what that meant. I eventually got the idea, and the concept has been incredibly important to my success in life.

Lowers stress

The idea is to charge at the work very early and not wait until just before something is due to get it done.  That takes some discipline to do, but it is a wonderful way to live. Reason: you do things in rough draft form well before the due date. Then you can relax and hone them in due time. It works well.

For example, as I am writing this blog article, it is the third one I have written this hour. My pattern is to put out three articles each week.  I have a stock of numerous articles ahead of me, so I don’t have to rush them out.  I can think about them.  When the inventory gets low, I bang out 4-6 more articles to get ahead of the power curve.

Help from my wife

My wife helps me by proofreading the text and making suggestions for improved content and search engine optimization.  Then I rewrite the article and have it “on the shelf,” ready for when it’s needed. That way, I am never rushed to get an article out, and I can take my time working on the content of each one.

Works in all areas of life

Try the technique of working “ahead of the power curve” in your life. The process works well for school papers, budgets, painting the house, or any activity that you might want to procrastinate on. Just grit your teeth and do the bulk of the job early. You will find that the quality of your finished work is much higher.  You are also less stressed about getting the work done. That is a wonderful benefit for anyone. 

 

Bob Whipple, MBA, CPTD, is a consultant, trainer, speaker, and author in the areas of leadership and trust.  He is the author of: Trust in Transition: Navigating Organizational Change, The Trust Factor: Advanced Leadership for Professionals, Understanding E-Body Language: Building Trust Online, and Leading with Trust is Like Sailing Downwind.  Bob has many years as a senior executive with a Fortune 500 Company and with non-profit organizations.