Imagine this. Monica was upset that she wasn’t included in the initial admin training workshop you arranged. It was limited attendance, and you chose the 25 admins that you felt would be best suited for the workshop, and she wasn’t one of them.
She interpreted that she wasn’t invited to the workshop as a personal affront from you. Her response to the situation was to email all the admins and all the executives complaining that she was shunned and not invited to the workshop. She accused you of being unprofessional and inviting only your friends. At no point did Monica come to you to talk about it; she wasn’t aware that the attendance was limited, and she assumed it was personal.
Without any warning or wrongdoing on your part, you are at the receiving end of a very public issue. There is now tension between you and Monica. Tension is conflict.
It happens in every workplace. Everything is going fine one day, and the next, it isn’t. Conflict happens at work. It can be as simple as being left out of an email chain or as complex as workplace harassment.
[ctt template=”3″ link=”dqn98″ via=”yes” ]Conflict happens at work. It can be as simple as being left out of an email chain or as complex as workplace harassment. Clarity is the answer.[/ctt]
Conflict is how we describe tension. It happens in every workplace; it happens in every relationship. It doesn’t mean you need to get a new job any more than it means you need to get a new life partner. It does mean you need to know how to deal with the tension when it happens.
You can ignore it, which of course, doesn’t fix anything at all. Or, you can deal with it.
Dealing with the tension certainly isn’t easy. It takes willingness to confront the person and the issue. The challenge lies in the fact that most people confuse the issue by complicating it.
Often, then we decide to confront the situation, we have already left the issue to fester. Many times, we ignore the first time the problem arises, thinking it is an anomaly. By the time we are typically ready to deal with it, the situation is much bigger than the original issue.
Perhaps the reason Monica was triggered by not being invited was the culmination of a few other pieces of tension between the two of you. Maybe the fact that in her email, she publicly included not only all the admins at work but also the executive team was enough to make you do something about the tension between the two of you. From your perspective, she took it too far this time, and you will say something to her about it.
Clarity is fundamental in dealing with conflict professionally. We must be clear about the issue you want to discuss. There are usually several issues, but the ability to narrow the conversation down to one will help ensure success.
Normally, when we let things fester, it sounds like this:
“Monica, I cannot believe you sent an email to everyone without speaking to me first. You can imagine how embarrassed and mortified I am that you wouldn’t come to me first. I want to think that you know me better than to know that I wouldn’t exclude you. I had a limited number of people to invite, and I didn’t think you needed the training as much as the others did as you have great experience. Why did you do that?”
Does that sound like something you would say? It doesn’t sound aggressive; it outlines the issues and is respectful, right?
However, there is far too much going on in this statement. You’ve brought up too many issues, and the conversation won’t go well with too many issues. It won’t go well not because of what you said but because you brought far too many problems to the discussion.
From this five-sentence statement, you brought up the following issues;
– You sent an email without speaking to me first
– I was embarrassed and mortified
– You should know I wouldn’t exclude you
– I had a limited number of people for the training
– I didn’t think you were a priority as much as the others
– Why did you do all of this?
All of this confuses the issue at hand. You need to pick one. While you likely will have opportunities to speak on several issues, when we have a conversation/confrontation, you need to narrow it down to one issue. By having multiple issues, you are confusing the conversation, and it is hard to fix the problem when there are so many.
“Monica, I’m curious why you chose to send the email to all the admins and executives without speaking to me first?”
That’s all you need to say. Stop talking when you say it. You can choose whatever issue you want, but select only one issue.
Dealing with confrontation isn’t easy. It isn’t easy to receive the confrontation, and it certainly isn’t easy to deliver it. By ensuring we are clear on the issue, we set ourselves up for success.
[ctt template=”3″ link=”7p9et” via=”yes” ]Dealing with confrontation isn’t easy. It isn’t easy to receive the confrontation, and it certainly isn’t easy to deliver it. By ensuring we are clear on the issue, we set ourselves up for success.[/ctt]