Tag Archives: Elly Cleaver

RESOLVING CONFLICT AT WORK

 

Mediation ends Conflicts

Mediation ends Conflicts

ELLY CLEAVER

December 9, 2015

RESOLVING CONFLICT AT WORK

Are you experiencing conflicts in the workplace? Is it difficult to communicate with a co-worker, a supervisor or manager? When you get ready for work, do you get that sick feeling in the pit of your stomach?   You are not alone. Conflict is inevitable and while it occurs in all aspects of life, workplace disputes often have a negative effect on productivity and work relationships.

Conflicts develop when our individual needs, wants, methods, goals, and values are different. A conflict is different from a disagreement because it is almost always accompanied by feelings of anger, frustration, and anxiety. Relationships fail or break down when the parties involved ignore or avoid the conflict, but in work situations, people normally have to continue to work together. Many employers recognize that managing conflict effectively is an essential skill for maintaining a cohesive and productive work environment.

As an employee there are some things you can do to deal with conflict more effectively. Conflict can be managed by learning and applying good communication skills and problem solving skills in your day-to-day interactions. In some conflicts, we become emotionally charged and our focus is on blame, fault, and responsibility (our positions). As we become entrenched in our positions, we unwittingly, “feed” the conflict by accusing, blaming or finding fault.

If we focus on individual needs and desires (our interests) and work with each other rather than against each other, we have a better chance for resolving the conflict. While uncovering the interests of each person in the conflict helps to pinpoint what triggered the conflict, problem solving techniques help us solve each issue the parties discussed. Most of us use problem-solving techniques at work every day. Unfortunately, we don’t realize that those same skills can be used to resolve conflicts.

If your attempts to solve the conflict are unsuccessful, then as an employee, you may use the traditional, formal systems available to you to settle a dispute such as the grievance process or Equal Employment Opportunity process. In recent years, mediation has increased in popularity because it is an informal problem solving process that saves time and is cost effective. The mediation process is designed to assist individuals in conflict with creating a mutual solution to their dispute.

Mediation is also helpful in improving communications and repairing relationships. Mediation differs from court processes because it is not designed to determine who is right or wrong. In mediation, the parties create their own agreement while the mediator acts as a facilitator. Unlike court proceedings where a judge decides the outcome, nothing is decided in mediation unless both parties agree to the terms.

If you elect to use a more formal process such as a grievance or other type of complaint process, someone else will decide the outcome for you. However, in the mediation process, you and the other person maintain control over the outcome. Which would you rather choose?

Elly Cleaver is MSAC Board Member and a retired Federal Government Alternative Dispute Resolution Specialist.

 

 

COMMUNICATION: THE LINK TO BETTER UNDERSTANDING

 

Communication is key to dispute resolution

ELLY CLEAVER

JULY 6, 2015

COMMUNICATION: THE LINK TO BETTER UNDERSTANDING

Have you ever wondered why it’s such a problem to communicate with some people more than others? Do you find yourself avoiding people because you don’t want to deal with them? Well, you are not alone and here’s why….

Robert Fisher, author of Getting to Yes, says it this way: “Poor communication can lead to misunderstanding, unhelpful emotions, distrust, sloppy thinking, and poor outcomes”.

As we look at the process of communication, it seems there is responsibility on both the person speaking and the listener. As speakers, we must communicate a clear message while the listener is responsible for ensuring that he/she clearly understands what is being said.  As listeners, one of the things we can do is try to understand what the other person is thinking or feeling. The use of active listening skills may help you to begin understanding the other person’s message.

Active listening involves two important components: 1) restating what you think you heard and 2) reflecting your understanding of the message back to the speaker. Speakers, on the other hand, may stop periodically and ask if anyone has questions or understands what he/she is communicating.

Another dynamic involved in our daily communications, is our body language or nonverbal language. Rolling our eyes, putting our hands on our hips, raising an eyebrow, smiling, and nodding are all forms of nonverbal communication and have a huge impact on our communications. Being aware of the impact body language has on our communications with others may help us become better communicators.

Some body language is encouraging such as smiling or nodding while others, like putting our hands on our hips or working on another task may be distracting or seem confrontational. “The most important thing in communication is hearing what isn’t said,” observes Peter Drucker.

Communication Style is another factor that impacts our communications with one another. Most of us tend to speak in either a direct or an indirect style. A direct communicator is straightforward in his/her communications; the goal is simply an exchange of information. If you use an indirect form of communication, your listeners may have to read between the lines. If preserving harmony and strengthening the relationship is very important, the use of an indirect communication style can be beneficial.

Direct or indirect communication styles are used in a variety of communication settings. For instance, direct communication is important in an emergency, while indirect communication may be preferred when discussing a sensitive matter. Most of us use both communication styles; however, some of us have a tendency toward one style or the other, and these differences may lead to conflict.

What can you do to improve your communications with others?

Elly Cleaver is MSAC Board Member and a retired Federal Government Alternative Dispute Resolution Specialist.