When Heads Collide: How to Make Conflict Productive at Work

True or false: Engaging in conflict will end a relationship. Believe it or not, the answer is false. Yes, it's a common fear, but the reality is that if we're committed to finding a resolution, conflict can strengthen a relationship and spur innovation. A natural tendency for many of us is to avoid conflict and our doing so comes at a hug...
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You Voted! Want to Talk About it? 4 Tips for Productive Political Discussions at Work

Today is the big day in the US: Midterm Elections . In light of this monumental event, we're encouraging everyone we know to join a nationwide conversation and vote . When you cast your ballot, you are choosing the people and policies that best represent you and your beliefs. More than ever in 2018, the level of enthusiasm, candidates, and measures...
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How to Confront: First, Prepare!

Close your eyes and picture someone whose behavior you need to confront. It could be a spouse, co-worker, friend, boss. Perhaps they’ve said or done something where once is too much, and if it’s left unresolved, it could potentially damage the relationship. Now imagine that person is standing right outside your door at this very moment, waiting for you to confront them. What do you feel? I would guess nervous, anxious, fearful? The truth is, most of us are uncomfortable with confrontation. I certainly was until I learned a few key steps outlined in FIERCE CONVERSATIONS . This best-selling book by Fierce founder and CEO Susan Scott has done wonders to take the edge off confrontation, and it's now a conversation I welcome rather than avoid. If you enter a confrontation without preparing beforehand, your fears of it going badly are more likely to come true. The conversation may steer...
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How to Be Accountable for Your Emotional Wake as a Leader

What's the impact of a Fierce conversation before it's even happened? How often do you have a conversation with yourself before a team meeting, an interview, or prior to delivering feedback or confronting a problem? Consider it an essential part of your prep time, integrated into the normal routine of preparing for a meeting. And depending on the s...
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Today’s Mokita: Incivility in the Workplace

You may have heard the word "incivility," which the Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines as a "quality of state of being uncivil." A more familiar phrase would be rude behavior , used to describe words and actions that can lower employee engagement and harm the health of your workplace culture. What are the harmful behaviors that are going on in your...
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Calming Your Brain During Conflict

This week’s Friday resource comes from Harvard Business Review (HBR) and offers ways to help calm your brain and body during moments of conflict. Conflict is an inevitable part of life. When a conflict takes place, our brains and bodies often propel us into fight or flight mode. While this survival response is useful in life or death situations, it can potentially threaten our ability to move through conflict constructively and devise solutions that strengthen our relationships, both at work and at home. Once our fight or flight mode is “triggered,” our bodies produce stress hormones that dampen our memory and make it difficult to be open to other points of view. What initially began as a disagreement suddenly turns into a perceived threat, and we may feel overwhelmed with both the negative thoughts and uncomfortable sensations occurring within us. Fortunately, there are mindfulness-based steps we can take to prevent...
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5 Critical Steps to Fearless Confrontation

This week’s Friday Resource comes from  Forbes and details the necessary steps women can take for a fearless (and effective) confrontation. Having a confrontation conversation is rarely easy for anyone and can be particularly challenging for women. Others' expectations and perceptions of gender can add another layer of difficulty when the need arises to face a person or situation head-on. One essential element of a successful confrontation is acknowledging what we’re afraid of and why—perhaps we’re afraid things will go poorly the way they did in the past when we attempted a confrontation, or perhaps we’re afraid of the intensity of our own emotions. Per Kathy Caprino, Forbes contributor, here are some critical steps we can take to overcome reluctance related to confrontation. 1. Mentally prepare. “Carefully evaluate what you’re thinking and feeling, and identify the real issue that you need to address. Tease out all the tangential factors, emotions...
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Why Trust Requires Transparency (And How to Create Both)

“Earn trust, earn trust, earn trust. Then you can worry about the rest.” –Seth Godin We often hear about the need for transparency in personal and business relationships via TED Talks, articles, and gurus. But what exactly makes it so important? Can you recall a time in your personal or professional life when you discovered crucial information that wasn’t disclosed to you when you feel it should’ve been? Was your trust and loyalty for the person or people jeopardized as a result? Most of us have been there at some point. According to Tolero Solutions, 45% of employees say lack of trust in leadership is the biggest issue impacting their work performance. That’s huge. Lies and secrets break trust. On the contrary, honesty and transparency build trust. And when trust is created, it leads to a heightened sense of security and better employee performance . Although timing can be an...
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Leadership Tips: Confront a Toxic Coworker

It is the gossiper . It is the victim . It is the slacker . Toxic employees show up in many forms. Fierce conducted a survey on toxic employees a little over a year ago. Out of 1,000 executives and employees, 30 percent argue with coworkers once a month, and 55 percent feel that a negative supervisor, peer, and employee are all equally detrimental to the morale of an organization. So what do you do about those troublemakers? Sixty-two percent said they opt to confront toxic coworkers. It is important to have the conversation on the impact of the behavior – not just for the relationship, but also for yourself. This week’s tip is to confront a toxic coworker. If offering constructive feedback has not made the situation improve, it’s time for a direct conversation. It is a skill to confront well. One tip: it is important to name the...
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Difficult Coworker? One Quick Way To Turn The Relationship Around

Do you fight at work? Fist fights are rare but toe-to-toe yelling matches, stonewalling, passive resistance and backbiting are all too common in the workplace. Do you think that if so-and-so weren’t so stubborn or political, your job would be much easier? If so, you aren’t alone. Nearly one-third of executives and employees argue with a co-worker at least once a month , according to a survey of 1,000 workers by Fierce Inc ., a Seattle leadership development and training company specializing in workplace communication. Work warfare, even in the form of passive resistance, wastes energy, lowers morale and reduces productivity. You can be a high performer individually but adversarial relationships with your co-workers can cause loss of trust up and down the management chain, and damage your products and customer relationships. As an executive coach, I’m privy to many of my clients’ struggles with their colleagues. My inbox contains...
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Peer Relationships Are Critical to Real Workplace Recognition

This week's Fierce resource was originally published on TLNT.com and was written by Derek Irvine. Peer Relationships Are Critical to Real Workplace Recognition highlights the importance of relationships among employees in the workplace. What we know here at Fierce is you can't leave your "personal" self at home and bring your "business" self to work. There is only one you and whether you're celebrating or sad, it's important to be able to show up authentically. So I ask, do you have authentic relationships in your workplace? What can you do to develop the relationships? "Clearly, our peers are fundamental to how we get the work done. Yet all too often, peers and their observations are ignored or lessened in an employee recognition experience." Read the full article .

Leadership Tips: Say Sorry First

We all do it. We say something we don't exactly mean . Or we do something in the heat of the moment. We are human - it happens. What really matters is what you do after. Do you hold onto it and want the other person to come to his or her 'senses'? Or do you lean in and open the conversation to make it right? This week's tip is to say sorry first when something has not gone the way you intended. If you can't in the heat of the moment, go back to it when you are ready. In the spirit of the holidays and bringing 2014 to a close, let forgiveness and compassion be the gifts you give. It sounds cliché. However, we all know these gifts can be the hardest to give. The bonus? It is a gift to yourself too. You can travel light.

Resolving Conflict Across Generational Lines

We should all work in a multi-generational organization. Whether it is decision-making or brainstorming, there is so much richness and wisdom that comes from soliciting different perspectives. However, with all the positives that come from the different generations working together, there are also unique challenges. Difficult conversations are necessary to a business' success across generational lines. Why does it sometimes feel harder to confront an issue when it’s with someone of another generation? Typically, we sidestep having the conversation because confronting behavioral or attitudinal issues is just not fun to do. Add on that you need to confront someone of a different generation who reports to you or someone who has been in the field longer than you have been alive, and you have a situation that is appealing to avoid. What’s the problem with avoiding these conversations? First, the issue will not just go away. The unresolved conflict will...
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Leadership Tips: Resolve Your Outstanding Conflict

In our Fierce Conversations training, the Confrontation model is typically the first module people want to know about. No office, no life for that matter, is without conflict. If you’re a leader you should consider your team a great success if there is discord, if people challenge one another's ideas, if leaders address behavioral and attitude issues. This week’s Fierce tip encourages you to begin to resolve any outstanding conflict you have by having the confrontation conversation . If you need some tips, check out Fierce President and CEO, Halley Bock’s blog here . The cost for keeping this conflict unresolved is large for your company and yourself. The most poignant takeaway the first time I went through Fierce Confrontation was this: It is not the conversation we have that should alarm us; it’s the ones we don’t have that should scare us to our core. So, what can you...
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Fierce Survey: Toxic Employees

Toxic employees, we've all worked with them, perhaps, at one point we've even been one. Today we launch our newest Fierce Survey titled, "Toxic Employees" . This survey will explore how you and your employer feel about the attitudes of staff, positive and negative, and how these attitudes impact workplace relationships, culture, and the bottom line. What are the traits you love and disdain in coworkers? And how do you and your organization deal with colleagues that are constantly negative? Please take our brief survey today, by clicking here . Also we would love to hear your thoughts on the blog about toxic employees - how do they impact your organization?

Confronting an Employee? 3 Communication Mistakes Managers Make

This week's Fierce Resource was first published on the The Daily Muse website and was written by Fierce CEO & President, Halley Bock . Confronting an Employee? 3 Communication Mistakes Managers Make explores the three most common errors managers make when having a confrontation conversation and how to use the conversation to enrich the relationship. "Yes, when it comes to confrontation, it can be a frightening world out there for leaders. Fortunately, it doesn’t have to be so tough—and if we stop making some highly unfortunate communication mistakes, it can get a whole lot easier. Here are three of the most common errors managers commit, and tips on what you can do instead—so neither you nor your erring employee has to dread the conversation." To read the full article and learn all three tips, click here .

3 Steps to Embrace Being Confronted

It’s never fun or easy being confronted. For many, our instinct is to deny, defend, or deflect what is being put before us. At Fierce, we believe confrontation conversations are healthy and can be rewarding. However, it does take skill and practice to ensure the conversation is productive and moving the relationship forward. Below are three tips to help you achieve this. #1: Take a Breath and Listen Whether you saw this conversation coming or not, it is normal to have some physiological reaction to it while it is happening. Take a moment and breathe. Literally, deep breath in, deep breath out. Once you’re grounded, resist the inclination to become defensive and focus on listening. This is not easy to do, yet this conversation could be an amazing opportunity to learn something about yourself. #2:  Take Time with the Process Give yourself and the person confronting you permission to move...
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Success and Confrontation Go Hand-in-Hand

A challenging conversation becomes increasingly more challenging the longer you avoid it. What was once a simple and straightforward issue only becomes more complex. Time compounds the situation. Very few people think they will thrive in situations when they have to confront someone. It can be awkward, unpleasant, and most of all, scary. The range of uncertainty only escalates the “what if” factor. It is easy to focus on the negative. Yet your success is dependent upon addressing issues as they arise. To be successful, one must be able to have confrontational conversations in your workplace. When things are not going the way one individual thinks they should, that person has to have the skill-set and support to have that conversation. I recently read a blog posted on onlinecollege.org titled, 15 Characteristics Correlated with Success . All these characteristics for success supported skillfully having difficult conversations rather than avoiding them....
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Conversation is the Anti-Bullying Solution

October is Anti-Bullying month . While the topic has national attention, let’s engage in conversations on how communities are going to handle bullying issues across our country. Having children of my own, and being a former educator, it’s a topic that is near and dear to my heart. As I gear up to head off to this year’s 2011 Annual Learning Forward conference with Fierce, where our Founder Susan Scott will be doing a session on Accountability, I can’t help but step back and see how important, now more than ever, it is for teachers and administrators to create an environment for our children where personal accountability is not just talked about, but actually occurring. Our children’s safety, academic growth and the school environment are dependent on it. Being personally accountable involves having the conversations that need to occur. Bullying becomes an issue when conversations aren’t happening or are ignored...
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Learning Conflict Resolution Skills at ASTD With Our Fierce Confrontation Model

We are three weeks out from the American Society of Training and Development (ASTD) International Conference and Expo .  Fierce is looking forward to both exhibiting at the conference and hosting our two mini-training sessions . As I wrote in a previous post , our first session, on May 23rd, is covering the Fierce Coaching model , and our second session, being held on May 24th, will cover our Fierce Confrontation model . I’m excited in today’s post to explore the topic of our second mini-training session: confrontation. The story of my grandma and grandpa’s romance is legendary in my family. It’s the stuff that romantic movies are made of. Love at first sight, childhood sweethearts, and a separation that spanned three years while my grandfather was over in Europe fighting in World War Two. Fast forward 60 plus years later, and they still are crazy about each other.  It’s so good...
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How to Confront: 3 Traps to Avoid

There are two places where confrontation can go seriously awry . The first is when you initially confront someone and deliver your message. Hopefully, you’ve done your homework around this and are using the 60-second Opening Statement from our Confrontation Model . If you are, congratulations! You’ve avoided pitfall #1. The second opportunity for things to go sideways is immediately after Step #1 above. Sorry folks, no one said this would be easy! The great news is that navigating the whitewater is simple once you’re aware of the upcoming traps . Okay. You’ve delivered your statement and it’s their turn to speak. Lets assume you are confronting someone in customer service whose behavior towards a client was a little lacking, shall we say. Here are the 3 most common tactics you will encounter and an example of each : Deny : “It wasn’t me, you must have me confused with...
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How to Confront: First, Prepare!

Close your eyes and picture someone whose behavior you need to confront. It could be a spouse, co-worker, friend, boss. Perhaps they’ve said or done something where once is too much, and if it’s left unresolved, it could potentially damage the relationship. Now imagine that person is standing right outside your door at this very moment, waiting for you to confront them. What do you feel? I would guess nervous, anxious, fearful? The truth is, most of us are uncomfortable with confrontation. I certainly was until I learned a few key steps outlined in FIERCE CONVERSATIONS . This best-selling book by Fierce founder and CEO Susan Scott has done wonders to take the edge off confrontation, and it's now a conversation I welcome rather than avoid. If you enter a confrontation without preparing beforehand, your fears of it going badly are more likely to come true. The conversation may steer...
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Taking the Verbal Boxing Gloves Off

I am comfortable with nuance. It's gentle, considerate, subtle.  Don't get me wrong, I have explorer tendencies and love difference, even glaring difference. It can be exciting, adventurous, fun. On the other hand – the darker side – glaring difference can be loud, obnoxious, always looking for a fight. Things don't have to be perfectly black and white for me to appreciate the differences and embrace the similarities. Then it happened. What seemed like nuance to me suddenly became a painfully, large difference to someone else. What's up with that? How can our contexts be so far apart? As the conversation quickly took a turn, down what rapidly appeared to be a dark alley, I couldn't help think, "This is really not a big deal". Oh, did that just come out of my mouth? And we're off – verbal boxing gloves in place – I'd just stupidly made that gap...
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