hand shaking

You Can Be a Conflict Manager!

Conversations in the workplace are often fickle, especially when conflict arises. Are you speaking professionally enough? Are you correctly deciphering the source of conflict? Most importantly, are you going to reach an effective outcome?

Answers to these common questions were explored Wednesday, May 13th during GovLoop’s webinar, Critical Conversations: Communicating Up, Down and Sideways. Human Resources Specialist, Nate Mercer, with the Learning Center at the Office of Personnel Management spoke first about how to deal with a coworker who isn’t the ideal “cool, calm and collected”.

Mercer offered several tips on resolving conflict with coworkers, particularly when the other person is in what he calls “hulk mode”. Principally, it is important to keep in mind that there is no quick fix. Influential communication begins with finding a common ground and using the right words to convey your message without exacerbating the issue.

According to Mercer, one of the most difficult notions for people to comprehend is “keep calm and assume positive intent”. It is essential to remember that you are doing this for yourself. Without effective communication, your time will be wasted with conflict. His three steps to avoiding this and realizing positive intent are:

Step 1: Identify and state positive intent. Critical to this step is removing “but” from any possible sentence. When you are communicating with someone and follow a “thank you” with a “but”, the praise automatically is discounted. The usage of “but” indicates insincerity in the “thank you” which creates a bad start to the conversation.

Step 2: Take some responsibility. This step is also difficult, especially if you wholeheartedly believe you are in the right. However, compromise is do-able, and necessary in government. Choose something to take blame for that you can live with. A general example is if a project gets sidetracked; apologize for not over-communicating prior to the derailment.

Step 3: Explain the redirect actions that you want to see in the future. During this stage, you will outline a clear strategy to avoid any other potential escalations. Following Step 2’s general example, you could mention specific forms of goal communication while addressing any questions that could come up.

Mercer continued his talk with more helpful tips and finished with reminding people to be happy, because happiness is contagious and it at least removes the perpetually grumpy.

Following Mercer’s advice, GovLoop’s Founder and President, Steve Ressler gave six tips to deal with a difficult manager:

Determine if it is you or your manager. Ressler reminded the listeners to take the time to think about your own actions before fully blaming your manager.

  1. Think through their lens. The problem could potentially be solved by just thinking about what your manager is going through and how that might relate to the problem.
  2. Be candid and clear.
  3. Network up, down and sideways. It is always helpful to have people on your side.
  4. Be on the hunt for great managers. If there is no hope for your manager, you could seek ways to work with different managers.
  5. Take notes- you’ll be a manager one day. In the future you can use your past experiences to mold how you behave as a manager.

Mercer and Ressler raised several questions and identified viable approaches to removing tension from difficult conversations while finding positive solutions. To learn more tips, listen to the entire webinar here. Also, be sure to look out for more blogs addressing participant questions.

If you liked this webinar and want to learn more skills that will help you get ahead in your government career, register for GovLoop’s Next Generation of Government Training Summit. Get more information here.

Mercer and Ressler raised several questions and identified viable approaches to removing tension from difficult conversations while finding positive solutions. To learn more tips, listen to the entire webinar here. Also, be sure to look out for more blogs addressing participant questions.

If you liked this webinar and want to learn more skills that will help you get ahead in your government job, register for GovLoop’s Next Generation of Government Training Summit. Get more information here.

Leave a Comment

Leave a comment

Leave a Reply