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  Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions

Our FAQ page has been formatted with an interactive option. If you choose to submit your own questions or comments, be sure to include an e-mail address in the field at the bottom so we may respond to you as soon as possible. Your personal information will be kept entirely confidential. We look forward to hearing from you.

FAQs by Managers

Question: What are the most common types of conflict teams have to deal with these days?

Answer: Turf battles, built-up resentments, one person who doesn't work well with the rest of the team, generational conflicts and different assumptions and values about work.

Your Input: Tell us about the types of conflicts you are seeing on your team.

Question: How do you recommend that teams deal with these conflicts?

Answer: Turf battles often need a structural solution: individuals, at least in part, need to be evaluated on their ability to collaborate. If your organization isn't about to reassess its review process, or your organizational culture doesn't strongly encourage a healthy team atmosphere, you can find ways to encourage and reward team behavior and not to tolerate obstructive behavior. When the turf battles are between your peers, you probably need a facilitator's help to work through the conflicts and facilitate a more collaborative workplace. See Team Intervention.

Your Input: Tell us about the kinds of turf battles you are encountering at work. How have you dealt with the situation so far?

Question: What about dealing with built-up resentments?

Answer: When there are built-up resentments that are affecting the ability of the team to work together, it is helpful to be direct in addressing those issues. Ask the people involved if you can talk with them about the situation. Listen to their concerns and share your own. Don't blame or be judgmental, and try not to interrupt. If the situation is too hot you may need to get help from Human Resources or others qualified to help.

Your Input: Tell us about the situations you are experiencing that create resentment at work, home or in your community.

Question: What about having just one person on the team who is infecting the whole team with negativity?

Answer: Try and find out what is bothering them--ask them what is going on for them and really listen to their answers….sometimes they haven't been welcomed onto the team, sometimes they are experiencing stress at home. After you've listened, tell them the effect their behavior is having on the team and ask them to brainstorm with you how to resolve the situation. If the conflict is intense and seems unsolvable, a TEAM INTERVENTION might be needed or the person with the issues might need some COACHING.

Question: How should I deal with anger at work?

Answer: This answer has two parts. First of all, have healthy anger-management habits in the rest of your life. Exercise is great for burning off the adrenaline of a stressful workplace. Eat well, meditate, listen to calming music, watch uplifting movies, stay clear of a diet of violent videos and games. These habits are far healthier in the short and long run than arguing intensely, drinking too much, overeating or engaging in violent or abusive behavior.

Second, deal with difficult situations directly when you can. Talk with the people involved and try and work things out. If you need coaching on how to do that, see your Human Resources Representative or hire an anger management coach.

Your Input: What types of things push your buttons at work? How are you currently handling your anger?

Question: What should I do if someone's anger or rage is directed at me?

Answer: If it's anger, we suggest you listen to what they are angry about. Ask open-ended questions to find out more about their experience and try not to get defensive when you hear them out. It's amazing how often someone's anger will dissolve if they feel heard. And besides, they may have some valid feedback that would be useful for you to hear.

If they are really enraged and/or threatening violence, immediately remove yourself from the situation and call Security or Human Resources for help. DO NOT yell at them, tell them they are crazy or accuse them of being "out of control" or tell them to"calm down"-that usually just intensifies their feelings.

If you can't get help, stay calm and just say "I know you are really upset/angry… can I do anything to help right now?" And then LISTEN - DO NOT ARGUE with them whether or not you agree with the causes of their anger. Do not try and talk them out of feeling angry. And DO NOT IGNORE THEM. Just keep listening and reflecting back that you hear them and want to help.

Your Input: Are you experiencing a situation where an employee is very angry with you?

Question: I have conflict with my manager-what should I do?

Answer: It depends on your overall relationship with your manager and your organization's culture. We don't recommend that you commit political suicide so you must decide what price you are likely to pay if you do or do not say anything.

If your overall relationship with your manager is good and your manager is an open, responsive person, try talking with him/her about the situation by stating that your intent is to work things out in a win-win manner.

If your manager is tyrannical or narcisstic, you might think twice about talking it out. You might have to work through the conflict by talking with other people, letting it go, getting advice from an expert, or as a last resort, by changing departments or companies.

Your Input: Are you having a conflict with your manager that you'd like some help working out? Tell us about it.

Question: What is the best way to de-escalate conflict?

Answer: Listen and acknowledge the other person's point of view before sharing your own. In other words, let go of your end of the rope (as in a tug of war) and just LISTEN DEEPLY and then paraphrase what you have heard. If you're too triggered to listen, ask for a later time to meet and use some anger management techniques-exercise, journal writing, talking to a friend or colleague-so you can come back to the conversation with more capacity to listen.

If it is impossible for you to have a conversation without getting triggered, you may need help from a third party. See MEDIATION

Your Input: Do you have a conflict that has been going on too long that you can't de-escalate? Tell us about it.

FAQs for Individual Contributors

Question: I am in an organization/on a team that is very competitive. No one collaborates and there is a lot of conflict on the team. I'm thinking of leaving the company, but I love my job.

Answer: You can refuse to play the game by doing your work well, offering to collaborate with everyone, and making a commitment to get along with and have an influence on the rest of the team. Sometimes, if the turf battles are deeply entrenched and projects are stalling, you might need to suggest a TEAM INTERVENTION process. If you can take a leadership role in this, do so.

Get advice from Human Resources and ask for their help.

As a last resort, request a transfer to another department.

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