Conflict Resolution

I have often found in the world of IT, people are often all passive aggressives who largely say yes in a meeting and then go subvert the very thing we just said yes to.

When someone says something at the time, they are said to be "nay sayers", "negative" or "not team players".  The issue is not around sharing of our opinions, but more about respect.  Some great examples of this for me came to light today in a conversation with one of our very bright team members and then again tonight while trying to negotiate with a 3 1/2 year old that hadn’t had a nap today and was obstenant.

Both stories were great examples of working to resolve conflict in very different ways.  My work story was around a re-platforming project I am leading at the moment and some project managers who are currently building new applications on the old platform and will be deploying and starting development as we move to the new platform.  Taking a page out of Mark Dymond’s PM101, I organized some very frequent and open communication meetings and an early working session to get the issues out and organized.  These folks are seasoned veterans and I expected some subversive activity.  But instead, they brought out issues, risks, ideas and feedback in advance.  We don’t need to all agree, but we are really communicating and respecting each other – I am loving this project, even the issues we are having.  This is the perfect world for me and I appreciate how we are working together to deal with conflicts of priorities and ideas in a positive manner.

Now we come to Thomas tonight.  He was unconsolable and very controlling as we worked towards bed.  He had it in his mind about some things that he knew were out of bounds and would work around us to try and get to them.  The behaviour was negative and didn’t actually move his little agenda forward other than a feeling of control at times (backhanded).  So I tried something that I think Jim would be proud of, I changed the game and the focus.  As he is wailing away on the floor I asked him for his help.  He stopped immediately as his crying was self induced and an effort to control the events and said yes, what did I want.  I told him I had hurt my thumb and would he help me. Bang the direction had changed.  I had been hoping that by changing the situation from me demanding him to go to bed, but asking for him to help me, he could feel control and then be able to redirect the actions and it worked.  Within 3 minutes he used his magical stuffed animal to fix my problem and we were off to bed without anymore tears, a few comments about some of the consequences.

I love the learning we get at home and at work and how much life can be like dealing with a 3 1/2 year old.

  1. jimhayward Reply

    You are right Stephen I am proud of you. That was a neat story.
    I expect the sabotage comes from people bringing up concerns in the past and being shut out. Being open to concerns and acknowledging them really helps. If we can have open dialogue we can learn so much more.
    I have also found that asking for help is an awesome way to diffuse conflict. I wish I could remember more often.

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