REFLECTION: Last week over lunch with a friend and colleague, we chatted about conflict and confusion in the workplace. It’s a common thread that’s surfacing in the Overload/Overwhelm surveys that so many of you (over 900 in fact) so kindly and thoughtfully completed earlier in the summer.
My friend described how one of her business partners approaches these situations. He believes that when conflict and confusion arise, that expectations and communication are at the root of the problem.
I’ve been keeping a close eye on exchanges and interactions since our conversation, and I’m thinking he’s onto something. Although, I don’t believe those two concepts explain every situation, they do play a major role. And, they are a great starting point for untangling life’s twists and turns.
ACTION: Give it a try in the days ahead. As conflicts and confusions arise (and they will), look closely at whether problems with expectations and communication fueled the fire.
Did expectations differ about what needed to be done or could be done, on what timetable, and by whom? Did fuzziness of intent or plan cause confusion? Were expectations reasonable or not, given everything that was going on and the resources available?
Was the communication about the situation clear and direct? Were exchanges and decisions left hanging or followed to conclusion? Was new information shared or withheld? Were changes in plan explained or simply assumed?
Look backward at a past experience, or inward at a current experience, and you’ll mine the wisdom and shift your practices to create more harmonious outcomes down the road.
Less conflict and confusion would be something we’d all welcome. Unless, of course, you’re a mediator, bonafide drama queen, or a crisis negotiator who loves that kind of stuff!
PS – As I’m sure you know, the challenge is not just confined to the workplace. Unclear and unreasonable expectations, and sloppy or incomplete communication wreak havoc in our personal lives, too. Treat yourself (and others) to a tune up at work and at home.
QUOTE OF THE WEEK: “No matter how big and tough a problem may be, get rid of confusion by taking one little step towards solution. Do something. Then try again. At the worst, so long as you don’t do it the same way twice, you will eventually use up all the wrong ways of doing it and thus the next try will be the right one.” – George F. Nordenhold
RESOURCE OF THE WEEK: For a great selection of articles on communication and confrontation, see the Vital Smarts archive of newsletters: