Workplace conflict is no laughing matter

I’ve just read that Saskia Schuster, ITV’s head of comedy, will no longer commission any show with an all-male writing team, or one that has just a “token woman”. She declined to comment on whether female writing teams would be compelled to employ token males.

Some would say that Saskia is forcefully pushing “equality of outcome” rather than providing an environment conducive to “equality of opportunity” while others may agree with Saskia that, “Too often the writing room is not sensitively run. It can be aggressive and slightly bullying”. Whatever you believe, Saskia is setting her stall out for some challenging conversations and conflict.

The silent treatment

Personally, having been in business training, coaching and mediation for many years I think that bullies have no predilection for gender. The bigger problem I see in the average workplace, far outweighing gender bias, is poor communication and lack of conflict resolution. Bullies and narcissists, whatever their gender use selective communication to their advantage.

“We don’t talk anymore” is the perennial mantra that marriage and relationship counsellors hear daily. Why? Because sometimes saying nothing is worse than saying something.

Dealing with difficult situations means having difficult conversations. Yes, we’ve all heard that terrifying sentence that causes armpits to sweat and butterflies to flutter in the stomach: “We need to talk”. However, you are at a disadvantage if you skirt around conflict or try and avoid a difficult conversation.

Hate talking?

In contemporary culture and especially politics, if an opinion is given that doesn’t suit an individual or an ideology, crying “hate speech” has become a convenient get-out clause to stifle discussion. And there lies the rub. “No speech” helps bullies. Ask Mao Tse Tung, Stalin or Hitler. Opening up about something even if it offends someone with a different opinion has a refreshing ability to clear the air much faster than a silent, brooding elephant in the room passing Politically Correct gas.

Managing the conversation is good for business

Good bosses and managers must be open and honest (transparency is the in-word) especially when harsh realities need to be addressed such as poor performance from a member of staff; bullying or intimidation; discipline or grievance; managing change or redundancy. If people know you are a good listener who provides an open forum where staff can talk freely, you’ve a good chance of solving problems early and getting new ideas into the mix to benefit your bottom line. Positive relationships help communication, improve morale and productivity.

The best medicine

Disputes negatively affect individuals, team performance, service standards, reputation and profit, yet finding the right motivational words at the right time is never easy, especially during economic downturns when staff conflicts are more likely to occur and when arbitration is desirable. At these times talking is needed most with good mediation to resolve conflict. Doing this well needs sensitivity, maturity and training.

Conflict Resolution Masterclasses

Through Carol Barwick Learning and Development Ltd., I provide a wide range of bespoke training courses to help you manage the most important aspects of workplace communication. The following three masterclasses provide powerful tools and techniques to deal with the most commonly encountered problems in conflict resolution:

  1. Managing Difficult Conversations

A dynamic and practical masterclass full of techniques, tools and tips in how to remain calm, confident and in control.

Essential tools and techniques designed to help you manage difficult situations. Ideal for front facing staff who deal with vulnerable customers displaying a wide range of emotions from threats of suicide to depression to anger. Help staff listen, respond and handle reactive and unpredictable situations positively, reducing stress and anxiety, to maintain team resilience and wellbeing.

  1. Understanding & Managing Conflict, Threat and Violence

This practical masterclass delivers essential techniques and tips in how to remain calm, safe and in control when working with challenging groups and individuals.

Training focuses on ‘Step Away Tactics’ and provides the basis for sound application of the participant’s natural strengths and the foundation for further skills development. It takes account of current UK law and applying the existing policy framework at the time of delivery.

 3. Understanding and Managing Challenging Behaviour

A high energy, practical masterclass packed full of techniques, tools and tips in how to remain calm, confident and controlled in all situations.

This masterclass is a fast-paced mixture of facilitator-led discussion and debate, group exercises and personal reflections on participants’ historic and future approaches to a range of real-life work situations.

Front-line confidence

My masterclasses navigate all types of conflict situations and help you confidently deal with difficult people to achieve permanent conflict resolution. Using the tools and techniques provided you learn to manage your conversations better as well as having the toolkit to neutralise potentially aggressive situations before they escalate.

Dare I say it, but we need to talk! Contact me now.

Testimonials are available for all of these courses.