Posts

From Conflict to Collaborative Partnerships

Conflict seems to be the rule rather than the exception these days. This weekend I read a quote, “Trying to find the balance between staying informed, and total insanity.” Daily doses of conflict are becoming exhausting. The disagreement over issues and differences of opinions is not what makes conflict hard. Conflict is hard because of the pain that comes from making, and taking it personallyCollaborative Partnerships Spokeswoman Cartoon.

The root of conflict is differences; in styles, personality, opinions, priorities, goals…you get it. There is no way that conflict can be avoided, it is as common as a cold. Something that is such a common part of life should be easier to master. So why can’t we get better at it? Why do we push hard to get our way, or avoid the messiness of conflict all together?

The complexity of making a rational decision, especially as the stakes increase, require evaluating all the facts, more facts than we can easily gather efficiently before we want to move on to something else. In a word, it is overwhelming. Daniel Kahneman won the Nobel Prize in Economic Science when he and his team’s research challenged the assumptions of traditional economic theory–that people make rational choices based on their self-interest–by showing that people frequently fail to fully analyze situations where they must make complex judgments. Most people prefer the simplicity of looking at the world based on their own preconceived views that were built by their limited experiences. When individuals have enough information to validate their own view of the world, that is generally enough to move forward. Most people don’t like operating in shades of gray, but prefer black and white, right and wrong. And they don’t like to leave things hanging, so they decide where they stand, and they move on. Collaboration and cooperation is only possible when we are willing to admit, to ourselves, to each other, that we may each only have a piece of the truth.

Creating Collaborative Partnerships with others is available to each of us if we can withhold our judgement and preconceived ideas long enough to listen to another view of the truth. Remember the story of the blind men and the elephant? One had the tail, one a leg, the other an ear, each touching a different part of the whole body. It took all of them to be able to see the bigger picture; developing collaborative partnerships to work through their conflict. This week reminds me of how difficult it can be to listen to each other, to imagine what another person sees, and why, and to get curious about a point of view that is different from my own. To seek first to understand and without demanding to be understood. To embrace rather than defend. How their view influences the bigger view. How our view is closer to the truth.

How serendipitous it is that this week Xponents is releasing our first online program: Creating Collaborative Partnerships. If you want some tips on how to improve your ability to collaborate, cooperate, and work with others more effectively toward a bigger possibility, we invite you to participate in the self-directed program, or the group mastermind.

 

Deb

Deb Siverson is an author and president of Xponents, Inc. Her book, “The Cycle of Transformation: Igniting Organizational Change through the Leader Coach”, encourages transparent and emotionally-connected conversations at work. Her company’s focus is to bring out the best in people by recognizing and aligning unique talent, values, and purpose.

 

 

How Do You Build Trust?

One at a time they spoke.  As each person in the circle shared the impact of the last several months, I felt the goose bumps rise up and warmth begin to radiate outward from somewhere in my core.  The first said, “I am working on taking special care each morning by dressing professionally to improve my self-confidence,” and the next, “I have to manage my optimism…I can be a model to others by having a positive attitude at work.”  One by one, they shared how they were stepping into a different relationship with themselves and each other until finally, a soft spoken man, who I had heard speak out on rare occasions over the past four months, shared the impact he had recently experienced with his son, a sweet story of sharing his heart and his concern.  “It is not my way to rock the boat…I step back instead of stepping into conflict. But what I’ve learned from this is that my son valued me sharing what I felt.  I had a conversation with my boss too…if I don’t say what’s on my mind, how can I be disappointed when things don’t turn out?”

shutterstock_182654306The conversation I just described happened after four, one-day sessions at monthly intervals on emotional intelligence skills, collaboration in partnerships, conflict resolution, and all of it culminated  in teaming to include designing agreements or what some call a team relationship contract.  A relationship contract is at the heart of how to build trust because it creates a structure to minimize assumptions and maximize all members expressing what they need from each other to work co-actively.  It is a way to intentionally practice relation management.

With the team members above, they were able to link team values, like respect, to an agreement of how they would communicate with each other.  Having the conversation about respect, including group members defining their perspective on what makes them feel disrespected, creates a vision of how the team will operate and how they will respond to each other when they let each other down.  Other examples of agreements the team set were; provide each other feedback, assume positive intent, and holding confidential all group discussions.

Discovering how others want to be communicated with, sharing your communication needs, and agreeing with where you must compromise takes time.  Ideally, we start new relationships by setting relationship ground rules, this is true for both work teams and managers with individual team members. We build trust by making and keeping commitments.  We redesign relationship contracts when we let each other down by perceived missed commitments or a signal that the relationship is ready to go to the next level.  We are always in the dance of designing relationships. The question is:  are we stepping all over our partner’s feet or are we moving in sync to the beat of our shared mission?

After listening to my soft spoken friend share his victory both at home with his son and at work with his boss I felt complete.  I will miss being in the presence of this courageous team who continues to amaze me with their courage, conviction, tenacity and willingness to step in the fire with each other over and over again for the sake of serving their customers.

Opportunity dances with those who are already on the dance floor.  -Jackson Browne

If you want to learn more about improving workplace relationships by designing team or coaching agreements, please contact me at 303-238-9733 or email me at [email protected].

If you like this blog, I think you will like my book The Cycle of Transformation. Available now!
HighResolution_Warnke_ DebSiverson20121208-9332-EditDeb Siverson is a seasoned executive coach, certified as a PCC through the International Coach Federation. If you want to schedule time to discuss how you or your organization can increase engagement by having a different conversation at work, contact us now.

Creative Conflict Resolution: Being Right is Overrated

“I find him to be closed minded.  It’s his way or no way!”

“She is really hard to read, like she has on a protective shield.”

“It is as if he can’t develop a plan or be the least bit strategic.”

“She moves too slow…over thinking everything!”

These types of comments are common in most organizations, and while we all know that productive business relationships are critical to our success, it isn’t always easy to avoid the destructive side of conflict.  Conflict happens as a result of differences in personality, beliefs, and styles.   One thing we can count on is that there will be conflict in our business relationships, but how we choose to respond to it is what determines whether we are exasperated or innovative.

I had one of those “ah-ha” moments recently about creative conflict resolution.  I was working with someone who saw a situation very differently from the way I saw it. I caught myself thinking, how unenlightened this individual is. They must not have had the benefit of the education I had on this important topic…or they would know how wrong they were.  Suddenly I realized I was making this person wrong, and even villainizing to some degree the strong opinion they held.  And though I didn’t verbalize it out loud to them at the time, the way I interacted and engaged certainly was impacted by my thoughts and feelings.

The big eye-opener was the realization that the trait that was difficult for me to deal with in this other person, was how opinionated they were, and unwilling to see that my opinion was valid.

Then it hit me hard…I was demonstrating the same trait!  What was difficult for me to be with was similar to the way I was responding to them.

That day I began to get curious about this other point-of-view, and I did my best to let go of my arrogance so that I could wonder about this other opinion and what truth existed there that I was overlooking.

I do my best to catch myself when I start to objectify another person, seeing them as an obstacle to my wants and needs.  Some days I do better than others, and I avoid the trap of thinking that my way is better…and it is for me but it isn’t for we.

I am reminded of a quote, Do you want to be right, or do you want your relationship to work? 

Being right is overrated!

If you like this blog, I think you will like my book The Cycle of Transformation. Available now!
Deb Siverson is a seasoned executive coach, certified as a PCC through the International Coach Federation. If you want to schedule time to discuss how you or your organization can increase engagement by having a different conversation at work, contact us now.

 

What is Conflict: One Story About Ways to Resolve Conflict Without the Drama

Like everyone else, my life has had relationships that have experienced various degrees of conflict. When I consider the conflict I’ve faced over the years, it makes me wonder if it’s more or less than that of the “average bear.”  I don’t know if I’m typical or if everyone feels the tug of different perspectives the way I do. Do you wonder if you are typical too?  When I work with teams regarding conflict resolution in the Xponents workshop, Transforming Conflict into Creativity, it seems to me that the struggle is clearly not a stranger to most and as you may have guessed, be it friend or foe, I know conflict all too well.

I will attempt to share my conflict story but without the drama.  “Is that even possible,” you ask, and I’m wondering if I can let go of the drama too.  The greatest conflict of my lifetime has been between me and my oldest daughter.  What is so disheartening is that I remember the joy I felt the day I brought her home from the hospital after she was born, her first laugh, and how bright and quick she was when it came to memorizing her first book. I was devastated when she began to struggle as a teenager.   I won’t bore you with the details of the story(s) that live between us, but I will tell you that what has complicated our differences these past few years is a boy that we both equally cherish.

The reader’s digest version of my story is that my daughter became pregnant at sixteen, decided to keep the baby, decided after 6 months she was unable to effectively parent, my husband and I decided we would parent him, and she has deeply regretted her decision on several fronts for the past 16 years.  This is my perspective of course, but I think she would agree with this abbreviated version.

While I have simplified the story down to the basic facts, the complexity lies in, under, and around the many bits and pieces of this relationship dilemma. I’m a big fan of the work done in Becoming a Conflict Competent Leader, by Craig E. Runde, Tim A. Flanagan, which you can find on our recommended reading list.  One of their premises is that when dealing with differences we tend to behave in ways that are either active or passive.  My daughter and I are both on the active end of the spectrum which can be both good and bad.  Runde and Flanagan also distinguish between behaviors that are constructive vs. destructive.  If we put these dimensions together, examples of destructive and active behaviors are Winning at all Cost, or Displaying Anger. When my daughter and I are triggered and behaving at our worst, this is the place we go.  I am not proud that I can let my emotions get the best of me, and I continue to observe our pattern and ask myself the question, what do I really want for our relationship and perhaps more importantly what do I want for this boy who is our son literally and technically.  This awareness has helped me to make different choices some of the time.

The most active and constructive behavior is Perspective Taking.  When I am able to put myself in the shoes of my daughter and really seek to understand what she feels, I notice my heart opens up and I am less rigid and able to be with her energetically and without judgment.  I don’t know that our relationship will ever be ideal or that we will ever fully let our guards down and be able to collaborate with each other.  For today, I can choose to lower my defenses and be more open.  I can attempt to see things through her eyes. I can see in my mind that small laughing face and remember how much she matters to me.

It’ a small step in the right direction.

What do you think? Comment below and share your opinion.

If you like this blog, I think you will like my book The Cycle of Transformation. Available now!
Deb Siverson is a seasoned executive coach, certified as a PCC through the International Coach Federation. If you want to schedule time to discuss how you or your organization can increase engagement by having a different conversation at work, contact us now.

Courses

From Conflict to Collaborative Partnerships

Conflict seems to be the rule rather than the exception these days. This weekend I read a quote, “Trying to find the balance between staying informed, and total insanity.” Daily doses of conflict are becoming exhausting. The disagreement over issues and differences of opinions is not what makes conflict hard. Conflict is hard because of the pain that comes from making, and taking it personallyCollaborative Partnerships Spokeswoman Cartoon.

The root of conflict is differences; in styles, personality, opinions, priorities, goals…you get it. There is no way that conflict can be avoided, it is as common as a cold. Something that is such a common part of life should be easier to master. So why can’t we get better at it? Why do we push hard to get our way, or avoid the messiness of conflict all together?

The complexity of making a rational decision, especially as the stakes increase, require evaluating all the facts, more facts than we can easily gather efficiently before we want to move on to something else. In a word, it is overwhelming. Daniel Kahneman won the Nobel Prize in Economic Science when he and his team’s research challenged the assumptions of traditional economic theory–that people make rational choices based on their self-interest–by showing that people frequently fail to fully analyze situations where they must make complex judgments. Most people prefer the simplicity of looking at the world based on their own preconceived views that were built by their limited experiences. When individuals have enough information to validate their own view of the world, that is generally enough to move forward. Most people don’t like operating in shades of gray, but prefer black and white, right and wrong. And they don’t like to leave things hanging, so they decide where they stand, and they move on. Collaboration and cooperation is only possible when we are willing to admit, to ourselves, to each other, that we may each only have a piece of the truth.

Creating Collaborative Partnerships with others is available to each of us if we can withhold our judgement and preconceived ideas long enough to listen to another view of the truth. Remember the story of the blind men and the elephant? One had the tail, one a leg, the other an ear, each touching a different part of the whole body. It took all of them to be able to see the bigger picture; developing collaborative partnerships to work through their conflict. This week reminds me of how difficult it can be to listen to each other, to imagine what another person sees, and why, and to get curious about a point of view that is different from my own. To seek first to understand and without demanding to be understood. To embrace rather than defend. How their view influences the bigger view. How our view is closer to the truth.

How serendipitous it is that this week Xponents is releasing our first online program: Creating Collaborative Partnerships. If you want some tips on how to improve your ability to collaborate, cooperate, and work with others more effectively toward a bigger possibility, we invite you to participate in the self-directed program, or the group mastermind.

 

Deb

Deb Siverson is an author and president of Xponents, Inc. Her book, “The Cycle of Transformation: Igniting Organizational Change through the Leader Coach”, encourages transparent and emotionally-connected conversations at work. Her company’s focus is to bring out the best in people by recognizing and aligning unique talent, values, and purpose.

 

 

How Do You Build Trust?

One at a time they spoke.  As each person in the circle shared the impact of the last several months, I felt the goose bumps rise up and warmth begin to radiate outward from somewhere in my core.  The first said, “I am working on taking special care each morning by dressing professionally to improve my self-confidence,” and the next, “I have to manage my optimism…I can be a model to others by having a positive attitude at work.”  One by one, they shared how they were stepping into a different relationship with themselves and each other until finally, a soft spoken man, who I had heard speak out on rare occasions over the past four months, shared the impact he had recently experienced with his son, a sweet story of sharing his heart and his concern.  “It is not my way to rock the boat…I step back instead of stepping into conflict. But what I’ve learned from this is that my son valued me sharing what I felt.  I had a conversation with my boss too…if I don’t say what’s on my mind, how can I be disappointed when things don’t turn out?”

shutterstock_182654306The conversation I just described happened after four, one-day sessions at monthly intervals on emotional intelligence skills, collaboration in partnerships, conflict resolution, and all of it culminated  in teaming to include designing agreements or what some call a team relationship contract.  A relationship contract is at the heart of how to build trust because it creates a structure to minimize assumptions and maximize all members expressing what they need from each other to work co-actively.  It is a way to intentionally practice relation management.

With the team members above, they were able to link team values, like respect, to an agreement of how they would communicate with each other.  Having the conversation about respect, including group members defining their perspective on what makes them feel disrespected, creates a vision of how the team will operate and how they will respond to each other when they let each other down.  Other examples of agreements the team set were; provide each other feedback, assume positive intent, and holding confidential all group discussions.

Discovering how others want to be communicated with, sharing your communication needs, and agreeing with where you must compromise takes time.  Ideally, we start new relationships by setting relationship ground rules, this is true for both work teams and managers with individual team members. We build trust by making and keeping commitments.  We redesign relationship contracts when we let each other down by perceived missed commitments or a signal that the relationship is ready to go to the next level.  We are always in the dance of designing relationships. The question is:  are we stepping all over our partner’s feet or are we moving in sync to the beat of our shared mission?

After listening to my soft spoken friend share his victory both at home with his son and at work with his boss I felt complete.  I will miss being in the presence of this courageous team who continues to amaze me with their courage, conviction, tenacity and willingness to step in the fire with each other over and over again for the sake of serving their customers.

Opportunity dances with those who are already on the dance floor.  -Jackson Browne

If you want to learn more about improving workplace relationships by designing team or coaching agreements, please contact me at 303-238-9733 or email me at [email protected].

If you like this blog, I think you will like my book The Cycle of Transformation. Available now!
HighResolution_Warnke_ DebSiverson20121208-9332-EditDeb Siverson is a seasoned executive coach, certified as a PCC through the International Coach Federation. If you want to schedule time to discuss how you or your organization can increase engagement by having a different conversation at work, contact us now.

Creative Conflict Resolution: Being Right is Overrated

“I find him to be closed minded.  It’s his way or no way!”

“She is really hard to read, like she has on a protective shield.”

“It is as if he can’t develop a plan or be the least bit strategic.”

“She moves too slow…over thinking everything!”

These types of comments are common in most organizations, and while we all know that productive business relationships are critical to our success, it isn’t always easy to avoid the destructive side of conflict.  Conflict happens as a result of differences in personality, beliefs, and styles.   One thing we can count on is that there will be conflict in our business relationships, but how we choose to respond to it is what determines whether we are exasperated or innovative.

I had one of those “ah-ha” moments recently about creative conflict resolution.  I was working with someone who saw a situation very differently from the way I saw it. I caught myself thinking, how unenlightened this individual is. They must not have had the benefit of the education I had on this important topic…or they would know how wrong they were.  Suddenly I realized I was making this person wrong, and even villainizing to some degree the strong opinion they held.  And though I didn’t verbalize it out loud to them at the time, the way I interacted and engaged certainly was impacted by my thoughts and feelings.

The big eye-opener was the realization that the trait that was difficult for me to deal with in this other person, was how opinionated they were, and unwilling to see that my opinion was valid.

Then it hit me hard…I was demonstrating the same trait!  What was difficult for me to be with was similar to the way I was responding to them.

That day I began to get curious about this other point-of-view, and I did my best to let go of my arrogance so that I could wonder about this other opinion and what truth existed there that I was overlooking.

I do my best to catch myself when I start to objectify another person, seeing them as an obstacle to my wants and needs.  Some days I do better than others, and I avoid the trap of thinking that my way is better…and it is for me but it isn’t for we.

I am reminded of a quote, Do you want to be right, or do you want your relationship to work? 

Being right is overrated!

If you like this blog, I think you will like my book The Cycle of Transformation. Available now!
Deb Siverson is a seasoned executive coach, certified as a PCC through the International Coach Federation. If you want to schedule time to discuss how you or your organization can increase engagement by having a different conversation at work, contact us now.

 

What is Conflict: One Story About Ways to Resolve Conflict Without the Drama

Like everyone else, my life has had relationships that have experienced various degrees of conflict. When I consider the conflict I’ve faced over the years, it makes me wonder if it’s more or less than that of the “average bear.”  I don’t know if I’m typical or if everyone feels the tug of different perspectives the way I do. Do you wonder if you are typical too?  When I work with teams regarding conflict resolution in the Xponents workshop, Transforming Conflict into Creativity, it seems to me that the struggle is clearly not a stranger to most and as you may have guessed, be it friend or foe, I know conflict all too well.

I will attempt to share my conflict story but without the drama.  “Is that even possible,” you ask, and I’m wondering if I can let go of the drama too.  The greatest conflict of my lifetime has been between me and my oldest daughter.  What is so disheartening is that I remember the joy I felt the day I brought her home from the hospital after she was born, her first laugh, and how bright and quick she was when it came to memorizing her first book. I was devastated when she began to struggle as a teenager.   I won’t bore you with the details of the story(s) that live between us, but I will tell you that what has complicated our differences these past few years is a boy that we both equally cherish.

The reader’s digest version of my story is that my daughter became pregnant at sixteen, decided to keep the baby, decided after 6 months she was unable to effectively parent, my husband and I decided we would parent him, and she has deeply regretted her decision on several fronts for the past 16 years.  This is my perspective of course, but I think she would agree with this abbreviated version.

While I have simplified the story down to the basic facts, the complexity lies in, under, and around the many bits and pieces of this relationship dilemma. I’m a big fan of the work done in Becoming a Conflict Competent Leader, by Craig E. Runde, Tim A. Flanagan, which you can find on our recommended reading list.  One of their premises is that when dealing with differences we tend to behave in ways that are either active or passive.  My daughter and I are both on the active end of the spectrum which can be both good and bad.  Runde and Flanagan also distinguish between behaviors that are constructive vs. destructive.  If we put these dimensions together, examples of destructive and active behaviors are Winning at all Cost, or Displaying Anger. When my daughter and I are triggered and behaving at our worst, this is the place we go.  I am not proud that I can let my emotions get the best of me, and I continue to observe our pattern and ask myself the question, what do I really want for our relationship and perhaps more importantly what do I want for this boy who is our son literally and technically.  This awareness has helped me to make different choices some of the time.

The most active and constructive behavior is Perspective Taking.  When I am able to put myself in the shoes of my daughter and really seek to understand what she feels, I notice my heart opens up and I am less rigid and able to be with her energetically and without judgment.  I don’t know that our relationship will ever be ideal or that we will ever fully let our guards down and be able to collaborate with each other.  For today, I can choose to lower my defenses and be more open.  I can attempt to see things through her eyes. I can see in my mind that small laughing face and remember how much she matters to me.

It’ a small step in the right direction.

What do you think? Comment below and share your opinion.

If you like this blog, I think you will like my book The Cycle of Transformation. Available now!
Deb Siverson is a seasoned executive coach, certified as a PCC through the International Coach Federation. If you want to schedule time to discuss how you or your organization can increase engagement by having a different conversation at work, contact us now.