Agreeing with someone is easier than confronting them, and it feels good to be “on the same page.” But conflict-free work environments are virtually non-existent. Disagreement is not only inevitable, but also a normal, healthy part of
relating to others.
Disagreements in the workplace have the potential to lead to better work
outcomes, opportunities to learn, higher job satisfaction, and even improved
relationships born of working through conflicts. Writing in the Harvard Business
Review, Amy Gallo, an HBR contributing editor and author of the HBR Guide to
Dealing with Conflict at Work, offers advice for those who are reluctant to
work—and what was the result? To join the conversation, click "comments" above.
Anyone who says they have the answer to every important question is either clueless or lying. So says John Hagel III, founder of Silicon Valley’s Center for the Edge and author of The Journey Beyond Fear. Writing in the Harvard Business Review, Hagel says, “leaders should ask powerful and inspiring questions, convey that they don’t have the answers, and solicit others’ help to find them.”
“The kind of questions leaders need to ask,” he adds, “are those that invite people to come together to explore major new opportunities that your organization hasn’t identified yet.” For example: “What is a game-changing opportunity?” or “What are emerging, unmet needs of our customers?” or “How can we customize our services to the specific needs of each client?” Focusing on big opportunities is wise because:
“Leaders who ask powerful questions,” concludes Hagel, “have the greatest success in both seizing new opportunities and addressing unexpected challenges —and they build cultures that will carry these benefits into the future.”
What questions have you asked that have made a difference in your organization? To join the conversation, click "comments" above.
As Valentine’s Day approaches, consider giving your loved ones these gifts—each with more staying power than flowers, cards, or chocolates:
As marriage and business partners for over 40 years, we can attest that while confronting issues is never easy, avoidance is worse. And we still endorse chocolate too: It’s good for your heart!
We want to hear: What communication behaviors would you like to change in your relationships this year, and what steps are you taking to do so? To join the conversation, click "comments" above.
Join our national challenge to chisel away at the political divide that vilifies opposing viewpoints and imperils our country. Starts today, Feb. 2 and ends Feb. 12. Reach out to someone on the "other side" with courage, curiosity, and intention. We'll award a $250 Amazon gift card to our favorite submission.
Step 1: Who
Try: "Hey, Taylor, you're one of the people I care about the most, and whose political beliefs I understand the least. Can we talk one day this week, to better understand each other and hopefully find some shared values?"
Step 2: How
Try: "What are current issues you're most passionate about? What experiences helped form your opinions on that?”
Step 3: Share
Try: We agree to:
Harvest and submit agreements in the comments or here.
Our favorite submission will receive a $250 Amazon gift card.
Video calls are not unlike meetings ‘in real life,’ in that a simple phrase might really turn someone off—or really light them up. If you’re looking for phrases likely to build instant rapport, try these—as recommended by career coach Michael Thompson:
Do you have a go-to phrase or two you use in video formats to foster better personal connections? To join the conversation, click "comments" above.
Dreading confrontation, many of us avoid or delay uncomfortable conversations even with co-workers who sit nearby. It’s even easier to
let issues languish when you only see your teammate on a screen.
Writing in the Harvard Business Review, Liane Davey, a team effectiveness advisor and author of The Good Fight, offers guidance for managing potential conflict before it escalates:
How have you addressed conflicts with remote co-workers, and were your strategies successful? To join the conversation, click "comments" above.
“The one easy way to become worth 50 percent more than you are now is to hone your communication skills. You can have all the brainpower in the world, but you have to be able to transmit it. And the transmission is communication.”
Research backs this up with empirical evidence. A study from the Carnegie Institute of Technology found that 85 percent of a person's success comes from "human engineering"--the ability to effectively communicate, negotiate, and lead, both when speaking and listening. (Technical knowledge comprises the other 15 percent.)
Learn more about creating a habit around masterful communication: Sign up for our BreakThrough Communication winter academy.
If your job involves serving people, part of your work is dealing with their frustration. It's all too easy to take it personally, and—let’s face it—sometimes they do get personal. You may also find yourself having to solve a problem you didn’t create, and then offering an apology on top of that.
But stop yourself if you have a tendency to apologize using some form of these six words: “ I’m sorry you feel that way.”
Writing in Inc., columnist Jason Aten notes that saying this isn’t really an apology at all. “First, you can't actually be sorry for the way someone else feels. You can only be sorry for your own behavior and the things within your control. More important, however, is that the sentiment behind those words is something along the lines of: ‘Look, I don't know why you're being irrational about this. This isn't my fault, and I think it's ridiculous that you're upset with me.’”
Telling someone you're "sorry they feel that way" avoids responsibility for your role in the situation. So, what are your options?
New Years resolutions, if not exactly “made to be broken,” don't have great staying power. Seventy–five percent of “resolvers” keep their resolutions after one week, 64 percent after a month, and merely 8 percent twelve months later.
But the reasons go beyond lack of will power. According to Elizabeth Grace Saunders, time management coach and author of How To Invest Your Time Like Money, many people fail to accomplish new goals because they don’t consciously eliminate old activities from their schedule to make room for the new. It’s like “trying to stuff more papers into a file drawer that’s already packed tight.”
If your resolutions involve workplace goals and behaviors, consider the following:
A recent study from Forrester estimated that 10% of U.S. jobs would be automated this year, and some estimate that many more jobs will be automated in the next decade. But perhaps asking which jobs will be eliminated is less relevant than asking which aspects of remaining jobs are unlikely to be automated.
Writing in the Harvard Business Review, Stephen M. Kosslyn, former Dean of Social Science at Harvard and author of Building the Intentional University, posits that while routine and repetitive tasks lend themselves to non-human replacement, aspects of jobs that require two critical elements will be difficult to automate.
As Kosslyn points out, employers highly value the kind of “soft” skills that are intrinsically linked to contextual evaluation and emotion: critical thinking, clear communication, and holistic decision-making. “All of this suggests that our educational systems should concentrate not simply on how people interact with technology,” he writes, “… but also how they can do the things that technology will not be doing soon.”
What do you think humans can do much better than machines in the workplace? To join the conversation, click "comments" above.
The pandemic will make this a holiday season unlike any other, but that doesn’t mean a holiday party is out of the question. Now, perhaps more than ever, teams want to feel bonded, express feelings of mutual appreciation, and have some good old-fashioned holiday fun.
Here are some suggestions from the Paperless Post blog for a festive Zoom celebration:
Keep in mind that many party festivities, from charades to impromptu dancing, are easily adaptable to an online format. Whatever activities you choose, the important thing is to acknowledge one another, particularly during a time that hasn’t been easy on individuals or companies.
What are you and your team planning to celebrate the holidays? To join the conversation, click "comments" above.
If you can do the work well, you can lead other people to do it. Right? Wrong. “Occupying a leadership position is not the same thing as leading,” says executive coach and management professor Monique Valcour. “To lead, you must be able to connect, motivate, and inspire a sense of ownership of shared objectives.”
There is no magic bullet or infallible management tool to ensure good leadership. Instead, Valcour advises creating practices to increase leadership proficiency using the following steps:
What are you doing to promote your own continuous learning as a leader? To join the conversation, click "comments" above.
It can be tough to give tough feedback. The challenge is to do so in a way that motivates change without making the other person feel defensive. There are several common pitfalls in offering negative feedback: using the opportunity to blow off steam instead of to coach, surrounding negative feedback with so much positive feedback that it goes unnoticed, or simply avoiding and delaying because we anticipate the employee will become argumentative.
Writing in the Harvard Business Review, management professor and executive coach Monique Valcour notes that powerful, high-impact feedback conversations share the following elements:
What was your experience the last time you had to deliver tough feedback? To join the conversation, click "comments" above.
The ability to get things done competently and quickly is a key measure of success, but leaders can fall short if their efficient task-focus comes at the expense of a more relationship-based focus. Writing in The Harvard Business Review, executive coach Rebecca Zucker notes, “Things like building relationships, inspiring a team, developing others, and showing empathy can fall by the wayside” if efficient leaders believe these pursuits will slow them down.
The irony is that an intense, exclusive focus on efficiency can have a negative impact on organizational climate and make these leaders less effective overall. To combat this, Zucker offers advice for the overly task-focused:
How do you balance task-focus and people-focus? To join the conversation, click "comments" above.
Rude and divisive workers can contaminate an organization’s culture—their disagreeable nature spreading like a virus. They sap productivity and sow discontent. Best to avoid hiring them in the first place, but how?
Writing In The Harvard Business Review, Christine Porath, a professor of management at Georgetown University and author of Mastering Civility: A Manifesto for the Workplace, offers this guidance: