Tag: conflict resolution
Your boss just announced you’ll be working this weekend—when you’ve already made plans. Earlier, your presentation was sabotaged by the project leader. And before that, your assistant dropped the ball on your travel arrangements, so you’re going to miss the first day of an important conference.
Every day, the workplace offers the potential for conflict. Navigating business relationships and on-the-job discord can be tricky, and women tend to approach and resolve it differently than our male counterparts. Luckily, the qualities that make us different can be used to our advantage.
How Women Approach Conflict Resolution
Conflict triggers are different for men and women:
- Women feel conflict when relationships are threatened. For men, it’s more about their position in the business world.
- Women tend to be more sensitive to personality conflicts, as well as to gender-role stereotypes – especially if the stereotype has little to do with the job. (Think of the only female in a meeting being asked to fetch coffee.)
- Men tend to shake off workplace slights, negative personal comments and personality differences more quickly.
When conflicts arise, women talk in depth and at length about the disagreement, and focus on their participation in the relationship. They voice concerns about fairness and can be more accommodating to others’ needs than to their own. In contrast, men tend to use more linear language when discussing a dispute.
The Strategies Women Offer
The good news is that women don’t have to conform to workplace gender and conflict perceptions. To paraphrase Gandhi, women can “be the change we want to see in the (working) world.” We can change the gender triggers that may make us feel that we’re worth less – or are less worthy to be at the table. Here are a few strategies to employ:
ectations tend to follow behavior. So, if women behave as though we are entitled (to better pay, a voice or a promotion) we will be treated as though we are entitled.
- The expectation that women won’t negotiate as strongly as men can be changed by doing just that.
- Reduce typical gender triggers by repositioning the framework of the conflict or negotiation. For example, instead of taking it personally or focusing on the relationship, reframe the disagreement as counterproductive to the project, which affects everyone on the team.
- Separate your identity from the conflict. Focus on what is being said, not how it makes you feel. You may even realize that the message says more about the sender than you.
- Women often enter negotiations with a collaborative mindset, believing that both sides can benefit. This can be a great advantage over men, who often see negotiations as a competitive exercise.
At work, women may avoid speaking or standing up for their beliefs, so they don’t appear too masculine or aggressive. We do this because of our fear of harming relationships.
It might help to lose the term “aggressive,” with its negative connotations, and embrace the term “assertive.” In addition, flip the fear of perception on its head. Instead of being concerned with how you will look if you take an assertive stance on an issue you care about, think about how you will look if you don’t. After all, you don’t want your employer to wonder why they ever hired you, right?
About the author: Melissa Russell writes on leadership management and negotiation. She also writes on topics such as business administration and corporate sustainability for a number of universities through the University Alliance. Find Melissa on Twitter @M_L_Russell.
There’s a time and place for apologies.This is not one of them.
When I sat down to send my first draft off to the Women Of HR tonight, ADD set in. Yes, it happens. This time I found myself re-reading a few e-mails from earlier in the day and one struck a buried nerve. It was a forwarded message that I should have been able to read, laugh at, shrug off, and actually be proud of due to the little hidden gem in it that whispered, “You did it kiddo.”
Obviously that didn’t happen. So in the spirit of sharing and discussing issues that have impacted our careers, I decided to put the other post aside, speak from the here and now, and draft this one instead.
First off, I am a firm believer in apologies and, equally, forgiveness - especially when timely and genuine. As individuals we learn from our mistakes. Fortunately, more often than not, regrets are forgivable. They may never be forgotten but most issues can be resolved when we work together to make things right again. If there’s no hope in working together, then it’s up to us as individuals to decide when and how we’ll let things go.
Understanding and practicing the art of conflict resolution allows us to move on psychologically. It’s essential to our emotional well-being and something that affects us long-term if not consistently practiced. Without upkeep on our emotional intelligence, we become prone to internalizing issues and allowing their rotted remains to be buried in the psyche only to be triggered and resurface one day. Today was that day for me. After focusing so much of my time and energy paving a whole new path in my life one e-mail, one insignificant e-mail, brought back a slew of unresolved conflict.
You see I’m the type of person that will shoulder the acknowledgement, regret, and responsibility for the errors of those who fail to claim them – all in the name of conflict resolution. Being a peacekeeper is simply part of who I am. Some might label that as being a people pleaser. Either way, in past leadership positions, there were certainly times when I felt that this came with the territory, was my responsibility, and was 100% justifiable. There were also times (here’s the nerve) when I felt forced against my values and down right craven when I knew better.
For all those times, as strange as this is for me, this is the place that I finally speak my peace, forgive, forget, and move on. And there are some things I will never apologize for again.
I Will Never Apologize. . .
For working hard to become a successful businesswoman.
For finding my voice again and using it.
For betting it all on the Pass Line.
I will not apologize for having passion for what I do.
For actually liking what I do.
Or for choosing to do it my way.
I will not apologize for believing I make a difference.
For putting people and family before profits.
For defending my values, sense of self, and self worth.
I will not apologize for learning the hard way.
For trusting people until they give me a reason not to.
Or for choosing to give people a second chance.
I will not apologize for doing what I feel is right.
For showing confidence on days I really have it.
Or to the paranoid who think I’m a threat.
I will not apologize for being anti-social when I’m with my family.
For being social when the time is mine to choose how it’s spent.
Or for taking time to make time.
Finally, I will not apologize for making this first post about me.
Because I know it speaks on behalf of many of you too.
Photo credit Wordboner.com