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The Mechanics of Conflict

Conflict is an uncomfortable, yet unavoidable part of every workplace.

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That’s not the first time you’ve heard this sentiment from us, and it won’t be the last. Because on the one hand, conflict has the potential to cripple organizational culture. But on the other hand, it can also fuel productivity, problem solving, and innovation. So an in-depth look at what conflict is, common approaches to it, and opportunities for improvement is more than warranted.

Conflict presents itself in many ways—unfortunately, most of them are pretty destructive, and in some instances, even toxic. You’ve probably run into damaging conflict behaviors like passive-aggression, gossiping, stonewalling, or hypercriticismmore than once throughout the course of your career...

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If You Aren’t Stretching, You Aren’t Learning

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“Stability is a shut off switch for your brain.”

This is the central idea of Inc.’s article, “Science Has Just Confirmed That If You’re Not Outside Your Comfort Zone, You’re Not Learning” written by Jessica Stillman. Her statement is backed by research from Yale University that says brain regions associated with learning basically shut down when we are operating within a predictable pattern. When uncertainty comes into play, our brains snap into learning mode.

“This makes sense,” Stillman writes. “Once you’ve figured out the best way to behave in a given learning environment, learning new techniques or approaches is pointless...

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Simple Ways to Create a Culture of Listening

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When we feel heard, we feel good. Whether you’re the type of person who always speaks their mind or prefers to save their opinions for select instances, we can all agree that we feel valued when people listen to us. Katie Sanders’ article, 6 Ways to Get People to Listen to You (Fast Company) gives the reader tips on ways to command an audience and have your message really land with others.

In a quick snapshot, the points Sanders makes are:

  1. Always be present and prepared
  2. Practice gratitude and empathy towards your audience
  3. Be self-aware of your communication weaknesses
  4. Value silence and pauses when speaking
  5. Ensure follow-ups are timely and intentional
  6. Have faith in yourself as a speaker

While we agree with Sanders’ tips, we also think there’s an opportunity to pause and reframe ...

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The Invisible Drain on Your Company’s Culture

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Here’s a hard business truth: No workplace is free of the ravages of distrust. Anyone who’s ever held a job knows the frustrations that emerge when coworkers don’t trust each other – the miscommunications, rivalries, inefficiencies, morale problems, and turnover that, in the end, distract people from their work and make life stressful. And ultimately, research shows, cost money.Dr. Mark Scullard, a PhD psychologist who serves as senior director of product innovation for Wiley’s Workplace Learning Solutions division, has studied distrust in the workplace and found its source: individual insecurity. It’s not insecurity itself that’s the problem, though; it’s our drive to cover it up...
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A Winning Approach to Employee Development

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Managers play a critical role in developing the people on their teams. Without strong leaders and a strategic management plan, people often become complacent or feel unfulfilled and “stuck” in their jobs. Harvard Business Review recently shared Sydney Finklestein’s article on the importance and challenges of this, “Why a One-Size-Fits-All Approach to Employee Development Doesn’t Work.” Finklestein proposes that managers make employee development more personalized (thus, more effective) by creating a detailed spreadsheet to easily track information about each of their employees. Data would note the following for each direct report:

  • Observations and assessments of the employee’s potential
  • Employee’s preferred work styles
  • Motivators, both intrinsic and extrinsic
  • Career an...
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Don’t Be Upstaged by Workplace Drama

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“To be, or not to be? That is the question—” okay, so that isn’t the question we’re asking in this blog post. But we are discussing drama, although the type of drama we’re referring to happens in the workplace, not the theater. According to a recent Wiley study that asked 12,000 people, “What is the first word or phrase that comes to mind when you think of ‘interpersonal conflict in the workplace’?” one answer was exceedingly prominent. Any guesses? (Spoiler alert!) It’s “drama.”

But while poor Hamlet was waxing poetic over the all of the dreadful tragedy that Shakespeare thrust upon him, drama in the workplace is generally a reaction to one core issue: conflict. As we’ve mentioned, conflict is an uncomfortable but unavoidable part of any organization...

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Building Culture on the Job Site: a Success Story

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The construction industry is one full of stress and challenges. From project delays to a lack of resources, construction industry workers face many obstacles to ensure our communities are built correctly and on schedule. When you add lots of different people of varying trades, backgrounds, and work styles to the mix, tensions can run high. Often times, these workers (like most of us) are not taught how to deal with workplace conflict, so issues go unresolved, or even escalated.

One organization is determined to change all of this by providing support, education, and ensuring safe work conditions for its members...
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Reframing Conflict: from Evade to Engage

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When it comes to dealing with the uncomfortable things in life—fears, threats, stressors—our “fight-or-flight response” is often triggered. We hear this phrase a lot, but it is indeed a real physiological phenomena; something deep in our nervous system that urges us to either prepare for battle (fight) or flee the sticky situation (flight).Conflict, especially in the workplace, is certainly one of those uncomfortable parts of life. Yet with workplace conflict, it seems that most people choose to simply avoid or delay. We’re talking about a “no-fight-only-flight response” here. To most of us, catching a cold or losing your keys sounds preferable to addressing conflict with a coworker...
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It’s Time to Stop Confusing Perks for Culture

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Dog-friendly workspaces. Flexible PTO. Shoe-optional dress code. Free beer on Fridays. The idea of company culture has become almost synonymous with this idea of a very modern workplace—think less law firm, more Google.But culture isn’t about standing desks and catered lunches (although, free food is never a bad idea). According to Melissa Daimler, “there are three elements to a culture: behaviors, systems, and practices, all guided by an overarching set of values.” In her HBR.com article, she explains that a great culture exists when all three elements are aligned with each other, as well as with the organization’s values. When “gaps start to appear,” problems soon follow. With enough problems and a little time, great employees start to leave.

What, then, makes a cul...

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Conflict’s Drag on the Workplace

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What’s the first word or phrase that comes to mind when you think of “workplace conflict”? We’re guessing that super fun or awesome or beneficial aren’t exactly at the top of the list. In a recent study, Wiley asked 12,000 Everything DiSC® participants (from executives to individual contributors) this same question, and their responses were pretty much what you’d expect:

It’s no surprise that the general sentiment around workplace conflict is almost exclusively negative. These responses are most likely driven by the many toxic behaviors that provoke conflict and wreak havoc on our collective workplace cultures. We’ve all seen these tendencies rear their ugly heads. Here are just a few of the most common destructive conflict behaviors...
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