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The Good Fight

January 29, 2016

by Jeanine Izzo


Sucker punches, flagrant fouls and unnecessary roughness create a very palpable rise in negativity in arenas.  The same goes for their verbal counterparts in the workplace conference room.  Playing dirty leads to high levels of antagonism and rivalries that are destructive rather than constructive.

We’ve all been in meetings where one or more people were behaving badly.  Defiantly taking the meeting off topic…continually rehashing the problem…speaking in a condescending way.  Alternately, we’ve also been in meetings where everyone was so amicable (or fearful to speak up) to one another that there was no real buy-in and the way forward was uninspired, if not unclear.

Artificial harmony in the workplace can be as damaging as mudslinging.  Both behaviors eat away at available time and diminish the drive required for resolution.  The answer lies in changing our relationship with conflict.  See, not all conflict is bad.  In fact, when handled well, differing ideas, opinions and perspectives lead to enhanced solutions.   This is a vital part of progress.

The challenge is that the term ‘conflict’, in and of itself, creates a negative undertone.  Even though conflict resolution is an important management/leadership skill, it still carries with it an ‘in the event of a disagreement’ quality.  Instead, let’s use the word tension.  The term tension has a more neutral tendency.

To further distinguish…tension can work for you (creating solutions, new ideas, skills) in a way that leads to growth.  Or, it can work against you (creating problems, tunnel vision, poor morale).  Productive vs. unproductive tension, respectively.  Productive tension has to be present to create on-going or improved success.  This holds true for individuals, teams and companies.

As an individual, team lead, team member or company, if we keep doing the same old, same old (staying in the comfort zone) because we’re scared of the unknown…we will be left behind.  And, if we push too hard, even in the right direction…the productive tension turns unproductive.

Forward Moving Tips:

Here are some ways to get your team in the productive range.

  • Set the expectations (Ground Rules) for how you will work together as a team (i.e. everyone is expected to contribute, treat each other with respect-even with opposing views, etc.)
  • Stop allowing bad behaviors (i.e. disrespect among the team members)
  • Know your team members capabilities (understand when and how much you are stretching them)
  • Get comfortable hearing, clarifying and consolidating differing opinions
  • Listen to what they say…and what they don’t say.
  • Pay attention to what they do…and don’t do.
  • Instead of getting agitated when they don’t agree with you (or each other), ask them what led to their perspective.
  • When they seem to always agree, probe for more information (i.e. What are ‘we’ missing?)

If you want a team that is productive and delivers enhanced results, you have to value and use their talents and ideas.  This means engaging them in conversations that include productive tension.  Getting the tension points out in the open early will minimize the number of times you have to re-visit them in the future…leading to more efficient, effective, engaged and enjoyable progress.

For assistance with moving forward with more focus, confidence and success along your journey,  Contact Viage Partners today.

© Viage Partners 2016. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Viage Partners with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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