Resolving Workplace Conflict

Conflict exists in every organization and in every relationship. Sometimes conflicts have a positive outcome. Sometimes they are the reason projects fail, jobs are lost, or customers and clients find new resources. Positive conflict leads to meaningful conversations, new ideas, and increased creativity within an organization. Conflict in the workplace leads to employee dissatisfaction. It results in reduced productivity, poor client services, absenteeism, and work-related stress. Dissatisfaction also leads to an employee opting to leave a position or being fired. It may also lead to litigation.

Conflicts can be due to one of four reasons: personality differences, compliance issues, misunderstandings, or competition. In all cases, a major factor is a breakdown in communication. Collegiality and teamwork are affected. Rumors and gossip start circulating. There is now a decrease in productivity, which will directly impact the company’s bottom-line.

How do you approach conflict? Yes, it is important to address a problem quickly, however, you must first take a deep breath, stop, and think. Don’t just respond or confront the person, because an emotional response can exacerbate the situation rather than solve the problem. In fact, it may even create new problems. You want to clarify the primary issue. You want your response to be clearly articulated, whether written or verbal. If you must write something to vent your frustration, that’s ok, but don’t send it. Save it; read it after you have stepped back, clarified the problem, or identified the issue and how you want it resolved.  Send it only when you know it clearly represents your objective.

Remember conflicts can quickly become adversarial and power struggles. They are often the direct result of a breakdown in communication. A strategy that helps avoid misunderstandings is active listening. By being an active listener and asking for clarification during a conversation, misunderstandings can be prevented. Since words are less than 10% of the message, it is crucial to send the same message both verbally and non-verbally. A conflict may be linked to ‘how a message was delivered rather than the words of the message.’

Words may be misinterpreted due to professional or cultural differences; make sure your words are clear and send your intended message. Does the listener understand your intent, your directions, and/or your opinion? Your colleagues or bosses may come from different cultural, educational, social, or gender backgrounds. Their diversity means they might view the situation from a slightly different perspective.

So how can a conflict be resolved? It is most important to clarify the issue. What caused the conflict in the first place? Once you can clearly articulate that idea, you are ready to have a conversation. Make sure you use a calm voice, a relaxed tone, and eye contact. Don’t yell because the other person will immediately become defensive and stop listening. The issue then becomes about yelling, which is not the root of the initial conflict.  However, it can become the cause of a new conflict.

Resolving any conflict begins with a constructive conversation. It is highly dependent on cooperation and compromise. When both sides feel they must win, the conflict will never be resolved.

Hooking a Job with a Resume

Think of your résumé as a well-crafted advertisement about yourself. It must be clearly written and easy to read. It should highlight, in a user-friendly format, your skills and what you can bring to a company. Creativity doesn’t belong on a résumé because it interferes with the readability of the document.

Keep in mind your résumé is probably the first ‘interaction’ a recruiter, hiring manager, or Company President has with you. If they like what they read and can easily see the connection, then you may be invited in for an interview. Your goal is to ensure your résumé exudes your passion while highlighting your accomplishments and strengths. The reader is tuned into WIIFM, “What’s In It For Me.” Does your résumé answer that question?

If you customize, tailor, and tweak each résumé so the reader feels you are speaking directly to him or her, you are more likely to get an interview. Highlight your uniqueness and your past experiences as it links to the job you are applying for. Sending a generic résumé that has 5 or more bullets for each job you had could hinder your chances for success. Why? You are expecting the reader to identify the relevant information that is embedded in your résumé. That is YOUR job!

I know what you are thinking. I can’t write an original résumé each time I apply for a position or pass my résumé along to a recruiter or networking contact. You don’t have to completely re-write your résumé; merely customize your current résumé. Most résumés have too much information, some of the text is redundant or irrelevant. When I coach a client, I help them understand their skills and strengths. I teach them how to market themselves for different positions and even different industries by customizing their résumé. Think of your current résumé as a template for future résumés.

A good way to begin is by identifying key words in the posting or key words linked to a specific industry, then you can easily and quickly customize your current résumé. The goal is to make those connections jump off the page. A résumé should be a stand-alone document; not dependent upon a cover letter to reiterate information or highlight connections. Taking the time to customize your résumé, sends potential employers an important message. They see you as a person who is always willing to go the extra mile. You are someone who will think strategically rather than generically.

Make sure your résumé is easy to read. It should be no longer than 3 pages and written in 12 -point font. Write a concise, but compelling summary. Avoid wasting space with a laundry list of skills or areas of expertise. They should be clearly identified in the body of your résumé.

Lastly avoid silly statements. You graduated from college 20 years ago, what is the relevance of your grade point average? It’s what you’ve done with your knowledge that counts. Does it matter that you passed the CPA exam on the first try?  What is important is you are a licensed CPA. When you list other qualities, skills, or passions, make sure the reader sees the link. Otherwise, leave them out. Think of your résumé as a living, working document, not a generic summary of all you have done. Make it the hook that gets you an interview.

Bio: Peggy Bud, founder of Speaking Skillfully, is a certified speech-language pathologist. She coaches clients on how to effectively communicate when interacting with customers, clients, and colleagues. She provides communication training related to communication and the gender divide. Honing communication skills is a person or company’s most powerful tool; directly impacting the bottom-line. It’s more than what you say; it’s how you say it. Peggy can be reached at Peggy@PeggyBud.com or via telephone 203.952.8534. Learn more at her web site: www.PeggyBud.com Follow her on Facebook or Linked-In

 

 

 

 

 

 

Police Officers Need Communication and Tactical Skills

The single biggest problem with communication is the illusion that it has taken place.”

George Bernard Shaw

Comments such as ‘I didn’t like his/her attitude’ or ‘I didn’t like how he/she spoke to me’ are constantly received by communication officers or supervisors. Knowing how to be an Effective Communicator can be an officer’s key to survival; it can also mean the difference between keeping and losing their job. Understanding core Effective Communication skills can be the best way to insure a situation doesn’t turn ‘ugly.’ How police officers interact verbally, vocally, and non-verbally can and will impact job performance, constituent satisfaction, and their ability to build trust, rapport and relationships. 

Most officers realize the importance of keeping current and continuing to refresh their tactical skills. Yet, they are not always as aware of the importance of honing their communication skills.  Officers must understand being an Effective Communicator isn’t an innate; it is learned and takes practice. A successful officer is should always be perfecting both skills. 

Communication is more than just an exchange of information. It’s about learning a skill set that includes verbal, vocal and non-verbal communication, written communication, along with active and reflective listening. Only 7% of a message is the words you say; the other 93% can be the difference between effective and ineffective communication. Often times what isn’t said is more powerful and has a greater impact than what is said.  One reason is only a small part of life happens to you; most of life is directly linked to how you react it; how you communicate.

The Power of Thank You

Saying thank you is very important; it sends a powerful message. It shows the other person that you appreciate their time or what they did to help you. It might seem like a small thing, but it pays big dividends. The strength of a great thank-you note can be the defining reason you get the job.

When I interviewed staff, if I didn’t get a follow-up thank-you note, I felt the candidate wasn’t really interested in the position. Many hiring managers cross applicants off their list if they aren’t thanked within 24 hours of the interview. Email is the quickest and most efficient way to deliver the message. In some cases following up the email with a simple handwritten note can also highlight your appreciation. Know your audience. However, don’t go overboard or you might appear to be desperate. That means send a simple thank you, not a bouquet of flowers, a box of candy or a bottle of wine.

Send a separate thank you note to each person who interviewed you. Make sure each note is personalized. You do not want your note to sound generic and should make specific links back to the interview or conversation. If you don’t have the person’s email, call the receptionist, tell them who you are and why you need the contact information.

Thank you notes should be clear and concise; no more than 2-3 paragraphs. You aren’t composing the great American novel; the note isn’t your resume. They must not have any spelling or grammar errors and should not contain abbreviations or texting slang. Your comments should only refer to what was discussed in the interview and should not contain any type of apology. Make sure you don’t accidentally hit send before you have read, re-read and edited the note. It is best to either write the note in Word and paste it into the email or put the address in the note only when you are sure it is ready to be sent.

Remember to include the following points:

  • State the reason for writing the thank-you note
    • I appreciate that you met with me on…..
    • Thank you for interviewing me for the position of ….
    • Thank you for introducing me to ….
  • Share an idea or connection made during the meeting
    • Tell something you liked about the meeting
    • Reiterate a personal connection to the person
    • Re-state a point you made during your conversation
  • Recap your interest in the position or the person you spoke to
    • Be positive; don’t sound desperate
    • Ask if they have any questions, need additional information, or want to speak on the phone

A thank you note must be a perfectly written document; short, sweet and to the point. Think of it as the next step in the interview process. It is going to remind the recipient of who you are and hopefully why you are the perfect person for the position.

 

Avoid Email and Texting Misunderstandings

At one time or another most of us have had to backpedal in order to correct a mistake or misunderstanding resulting from a hastily written and sent email. At the ‘beginning of emailing,’ you may have been writing to someone on the same server. That meant you could click ‘un-send’ if you realized the email had errors or set the wrong tone. If you were lucky, the person hadn’t read the email so your problem was solved. Even though un-send isn’t an option today, we usually don’t realize there is a problem until the person responds to our email or text.

Following best practice can help avoid a large number of these problems. Yet, many people never re-read their emails or use spell check their document. They write as though the person was standing in front of them. Here are a few helpful tips when emailing and texting.

1. Always read and re-read every email/text before you send it

Responding in the moment isn’t best practice. Take time to craft what you want to say. After writing the email/text, read it, edit it, and possibly completely re-write it.

Following this practice is essential when writing to business professionals, clients, and professional colleagues. The best way to develop this habit is to do it whenever writing an email or text, even to friends or family. It only takes a few extra minutes; yet it can help you avoid misunderstandings and misinterpretations. You will avoid sending an unintended message.

Recently I wasn’t feeling well. I was stressed and distracted, but still tried to clear everything from my ‘to-do’ list. In my haste, I didn’t follow this rule and it led to an uncomfortable and embarrassing situation.

2. Spell and grammar check your all correspondence

You have only 3 seconds to make a great first impression. Do you want that first impression to be based on a spelling or grammar error in an email or text? Having a disclaimer at the bottom of an email doesn’t change the fact that you misspelled a word or used the wrong tense in your sentence.

Take pride in what you are writing; it says a lot about who you are. If you aren’t paying attention to what you are saying and how you are saying it, how does your client, customer or colleague know you will pay attention to details related to work?

3. Remember email and texting aren’t conversations

What you write must be both concise and clear. The person reading your email will probably have written and answered tens of emails between the first one you sent and the follow-up. They may not know or remember what you are referring to.

Avoid saying ‘thanks,’ ‘yes,’ ‘no,’ ‘I agree’ and other such comments when responding to an email without clarifying your statement. Those words need to be attached to the reason you are making the comment. ‘Thanks for the introduction to John Smith.’ ‘Yes, I can make the 9:00 a.m. meeting at Starbucks.’ ‘No, Friday won’t work for me, but next Tuesday would be perfect.’

The reader won’t have to go back and find your last email or re-read all of the emails that are attached to the current one. The reader won’t feel confused and your intended message will be delivered.

4. Tell ‘why’ when commenting, making a request, or replying to a statement

I always told my students they needed to tell my why, which lead them to believe my favorite word was ‘because.’

By explaining and supporting a statement, the reader will understand your thinking. The tone of an email is in the mind of the reader. You want the reader to clearly understand what you are saying, which avoids confusion and averts an argument.

Avoid accusing the other person. ‘Why would you…?’ If discussing a sensitive or difficult matter, try to use softer words.  When writing about feelings, beliefs or values it is helpful to use I statements rather than You statements. Sometimes adding emoji can help set the tone and prevent any misunderstandings.

5. Call the person rather than lots of back and forth emails/texts

Email and texting have a time and place. We probably can’t live without them. Yet they aren’t really a conversation, which is defined as a back and forth of spoken words. When a message is read vs. heard, the speaker’s tone is in the mind of the reader. This may result in an unintended message being delivered. It is important that the message sent is the message received. By placing a phone call and having a conversation, the intended message is more likely to be delivered and in a more timely manner.

6. The goal is to effectively communicate!

Effective Communication will only occur when verbal and non-verbal messages are in sync. This means speakers/listeners have the opportunity to ask questions, clarify comments, and make statements. Words are less than 10% of any message. So when the message is only what is written, the majority of the message is not being delivered. This can easily lead to misinterpretation. If you are only emailing and texting, even if you think you are having a conversation, you aren’t. So in order to have an effective conversation and avoid a message is misunderstood or misinterpreted, pick up the phone or if possible arrange a face to face meeting.