Archive | February 2017

Conflict and Communication

Why the First Can’t be Solved Without the Latter.

No conflict can be solved without communication.

This is a short post because the main point is in the first line.

To bring this point home, I offer you a short story.

Devin recently graduated from college and is eager to excel in his new position. He is motivated and wants to have an impact on the company.

Devin’s boss, Jeff, has been with the company for 22 years. He knows how things operate at the company and has grown accustomed to the process he has built over time.

After several months in the position, Devin begins to feel frustrated because his ideas seem to constantly be overlooked. He was hoping to contribute big things right away, but it seems as though no one is interested in trying anything new.

Jeff is frustrated too. While Devin is doing a good job in his role, he is constantly questioning the process that Jeff has been using for 22 years.

In this scenario, both the boss and the employee are frustrated. This frustration is leading to tension in the workplace; so much so that Devin has begun looking for a new job.

So what should they do?

The answer is simple, but not easy. They should communicate.

There is no clear cut answer for this scenario. This is why effective communication becomes so vital.

Devin may sit down with Jeff and say, “Jeff, I respect your knowledge of the business, and would love to sit down with you once a week to learn from you.”

In this way, Devin can bring his ideas to the weekly conversation in a non-aggressive way. He could say, “I had an idea that could potentially improve our business; I’d like to run it by you because I’m sure you have insights that I’m missing.”

Similarly, Jeff could check in with Devin and become a more active manager. He could say, “Devin, let’s sit down once every two weeks to just check in. You can bring thoughts my way, and I’ll listen. Keep in mind, we may not use them, but it will be helpful to discuss.”

By doing this, Jeff is letting Devin know that his thoughts are valued, even if they are not acted upon. He can also use this time to teach Devin more about the business so his ideas are more aligned with the 22-year-old process he has already established.

However, if neither Devin nor Jeff approach each other for a conversation, the tension in the office will continue to grow. Devin will feel under-appreciated, and Jeff will write off Devin as someone who can’t “get with the program.”

This is just one example of conflict resolution. There are thousands of examples out there. But one thing remains true through them all:

No conflict can be solved without communication.

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