You can run, but you can’t hide!

By Denise Scott

You can run, but you can’t hide!

As a leader you can run from conflict in the workplace, but even if you are Usain Bolt you will never be able to outrun its impact.

Studies show that employees spend on average 2.8 hours a week dealing with conflict. That’s a lot of wasted time.

Conflict usually requires having a “difficult conversation.”

Why is it difficult?

Because we frame it as difficult.

We CHOOSE to make conversations difficult because of fear.

We fear our own emotions, we fear the other person’s response, or we fear that we’re just not that good at delivering such feedback.

Sometimes we fear that nothing will change or it will get worse, so we might as well just avoid it.

The Price of Avoidance

When we avoid these so-called “difficult conversations” it leads to a dysfunctional work environment. You are accepting a behavior or incident that you know is wrong and others know it too.

Conflict that is allowed to fester creates resentment, disengagement and ultimately leads to your good people leaving to find a less drama ridden place to work.

By avoiding the tough stuff, you are creating barriers in your organization.

Those difficult conversations that did not occur may seem insignificant at the time, but they build upon each other and ultimately create obstacles that hinder overall organizational performance. Productivity is decreased, creativity is suppressed, and communication amongst departments and shifts is hindered.

The Opportunity in Difficult Conversations

Behind almost every difficult conversation exists an opportunity for growth if you choose to frame it that way.

When you foster a culture of open communication as a leader, giving and receiving feedback can be extremely rewarding. It builds trust and it creates an environment where it is safe to share ideas. Different perspectives and opinions encourage innovation and progression.

Coming to a resolution may not be easy, but encourages an organizational culture of open communication even when it’s time for those difficult conversations.

Tempted to run from conflict? Consider these tips the next time you have to handle an issue head-on:

Six tips for a Successful Conversation:

  1. Acknowledge your differences. “I want to listen to your point of view so I can see the situation from a different perspective than my own.”
  2. Be direct but open. “In the end, I know we both want what’s best for our organization and both of us need to put effort into it working out.”
  3. Talk about the impact of the situation (on you, on others, on the organization) “Tell me how you think this has affected our goal of increasing employee engagement.”
  4. Recognize how your role played a part in the situation. “I did not realize that changing that process impacted your team in that way so tell me more.”
  5. Ask questions! “How has this situation impacted you? Your work?”
  6. Discuss together a plan for improvement & commit to it. “What will help us to avoid this happening in the future? What can I do to make this easier for you the next time?”

What was the most difficult conversation that you chose to overcome?


This article was first posted at Denise’s website