July 28, 2012

Experiencing Conflict & Effectively Managing It

- Think about any disagreements, or conflicts, you have recently experienced or are currently experiencing at work with a supervisor or colleague, or someone in your personal life. Share at least two strategies you have learned about that might help you manage or resolve the conflict more productively, and why these strategies might be effective. For example, could you suggest a compromise? Could you look for a broader range of solutions to your disagreement? Could you use some of the principles of nonviolent communication or the 3 R's to better help you resolve this conflict?

     In my work setting, I have had an ongoing problem with communication to my supervisor. I have found it challenging to address some of the concerns I have about the future of our center without feeling belittled by my boss. Recently, I sat down to compose an email with a list of all of the things that I feel are hurting the school’s reputation for being a quality early childhood program. I am very passionate about what I do, and it pains me to see the school quite literally spiraling downward. In my list of concerns, I offered some ideas that I thought could help the school. I thought this was an effective strategy that could help resolve some of the issues. However, after I sent the email, my boss took over two weeks to respond and talk with me about them. In the two weeks leading up to our meeting, I felt like we were walking on eggshells and she barely spoke to me some of the days.
     When we finally met, she actually criticized my choice of emailing her over meeting with her in person. However, when I told her that I organize my thoughts more clearly in writing, she appreciated it, as I didn’t come storming through her door when frustrated on the day I composed the email. In order to compromise in this situation going forward, I could mix both strategies by bringing my composed list to an in-person meeting with my boss. This would utilize the idea of reciprocity in meeting both our communication needs in resolving further conflicts.

- Also, if appropriate, ask your colleagues for their input and advice regarding, if not specific problems, how they have learned to be more effective communicators as it relates to conflict resolution skills.
     Regarding being a more effective communicator, I learned from my boss in the situation above that she would have appreciated me coming to her first. I can be a more effective communicator by putting my thoughts into writing for myself, and then meeting with people in person as email can sometimes lose the emotional aspect behind the words. 

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