In 2022, I want to learn how to embrace challenges confidently! Enter today’s Coffee With Kim guest, Liane Davey. The New York Times best selling author, Harvard Business Review contributor, and self-proclaimed “water cooler psychologist” sat with us to give actionable steps on making conflict in the workplace less scary and more approachable. Learn to identify toxic teams, find support in conflict, and deal with passive aggression head on in our convo!
I see conflict and run the other way! I was surprised to hear Liane doesn’t like conflict either but embraces it because it’s necessary.
“Everything from putting a man on the moon, to figuring out the structure of DNA, to making your coffee this morning took a team. If one person could do it all themselves there’d be no need for a team. And if the whole team thought the same way, there’d be no progress.”
According to Liane, there are three players in the game of conflict:
This dynamic can get messy! Throw a flag on the play with these solutions:
Don’t be a bystander – step in to stop bullying, provide conflict resolution, or as a voice of reason.
Be a broker of better listening – when people are fighting they’re usually not listening. Ask both parties, ‘Is this what you meant by xyz?’ to help everyone become clear on the issue.
Simultaneous translation – In arguments there can be a lot of judgemental words or blaming, so change adjectives to nouns. For example, “You keep rushing us!” can instead be “This feels rushed, what’s the deadline that’s been agreed upon? What in the deadline can be moved if anything?”
This isn’t Liane’s first rodeo. She has been working with executive teams for 17 years!
There are five toxic teams she can spot at any company.
Do you see any of these traits in your team?
We’ve all seen it happen. Someone tries to speak truth to power and it backfires! Liane advises to lean on your four rings of support in this scenario.
What happens if you’re in a presentation and see an insult roll through the comments?
Liane says don’t stop to address it, come back soon after to get clarification from the person on what they meant by what they said.
“Passive aggressive behavior is a result of people feeling more comfortable to say things in a snide way than openly. Tip the balance by welcoming comments and conversation but make it less comfortable to be slick by letting them know they’ll be called on it.”
With the addition of Zoom and companies prioritizing WFA we have the privilege of interacting with coworkers from all over the world. That also means we’ll lack shared context and cultural content. But don’t worry, Liane to the rescue! Check out her ‘how to’ for building strong remote teams. Then supercharge your LinkedIn profile and connect with all your teammates there.
Liane reiterates is inviting conflict, not running from it! Do so by first being clear on what kind of conflict will be constructive. For example, asking for help finding holes in a portion of a project where you don’t have as much experience versus asking for an overall critique.
On the flip side we have to be able to receive the feedback well.
“When approached with tough feedback, admit it was hard to hear. Literally saying ‘ow’ signals that what was said landed with you, and that you’d like them to be more delicate. You can then say, ‘I’m trying to be the leader you need. What do I need to understand? What am I missing? How should I think about this differently?’ Let your teammates answer. Then respond by speaking their truth before you speak your own. It lets them know you’re listening and accept what they said.”
P.S. This method works in all relationships, even with teenagers!
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