Workplace conflict is often understood as any conflict that prevents the flow of work. From that perspective, conflict in the workplace is normal, and, when managed productively, can even have positive benefits such as improved problem-solving, increased understanding among team members, improved team performance, and increased motivation, etc. However, conflict that is managed poorly, or not managed at all, can become systemic and transform into a form of abuse knows as “mobbing.”
Alternative Dispute Resolution Resources
Workplace collaboration is a popular buzzword these days. And, of course, collaboration is critical to innovation, problem-solving, creativity, dispute resolution, and a myriad intellectual pursuits necessary to the workplace. That said … have you ever stopped to think about how so many attempts to increase collaboration actually have the opposite effect?
From small indignities such as not giving credit where credit is due to much larger dignity violations such as sexual harassment or experiencing bullying behavior from a peer or supervisor, most of us have experienced a workplace conflict in which an apology would have gone a long way toward making amends and helping a relationship and/or project get back on track.
If you have done any reading or studying about the shared characteristics of highly effective leaders, you have no doubt read about emotional intelligence — a phrase coined by two psychologists and academicians, John Mayer, of the University of New Hampshire, and Peter Salovey of Yale University and made popular by Danial Goleman in his best-selling book Emotional Intelligence: Why It Can Matter More Than IQ.
Emotional intelligence is critical to effective leadership, and it is equally essential for cultivating a workplace culture of peace — a culture that fosters human security and dignity.
Asking for a pay increase. Providing critical feedback on performance. Addressing inappropriate behavior. Apologizing. These are examples of hard-to-have, but necessary, workplace conversations.
Do you constantly find yourself at the center of conflict? Do you struggle to have your words received the way you intended them? Have you received feedback from peers or leadership that you need to improve your communication skills? You’re not alone.
Peace in the workplace. It’s not corporate yoga and mindfulness programs, although those are worthy programs that enhance wellness and employee morale. Peace in the workplace is a strategic approach to conducting business that cultivates human security, dignity, and a working environment that is free of fear. In other words, it is ensuring the individual contributors to the business experience safety and dignity in the workplace and are offered a working environment that cultivates personal and professional potential.
Peace in the workplace exists when individuals experience security, dignity, and a working environment that is free of fear. This criteria for peace is the same criteria necessary for fostering a working environment in which employees are highly engaged and able to experience their personal and professional potential. Creativity, collaboration, and high-level problem-solving are optimized when people feel valued, respected, and safe.
We are experiencing a watershed moment in history. Tolerating sexual harassment is at last becoming a thing of the past. Well, that is what we are all hoping. In order for us to truly put this particularly destructive expression of power to rest, we need to consider new paradigms for not just managing conflict but transcending it. Implementing a restorative approach for addressing workplace sexual harassment offers a new paradigm for just that.
At a recent Peacemakers Inc. “Pockets of Peace” event, I provided insights into the neuroscience of conflict and what happens physiologically when we are in conflict. Watch the Facebook Live video.