1WE4 's BLOG

Blogging on Conflict Management and Negotiation

Contrary to popular opinion

Q : I am on a taskforce that is working on no longer term goals and strategies for the company, and there is one individual who has a contrary opinion to everything the rest of us agree upon. No matter what approach we take, he seems to pride himself on criticizing it and pushing for things to be done his way. How do you deal with someone such as this?

59290_FullA : Contrary to popular belief, there are many circumstances where are contrarian is an important asset in group decision-making. However, a great deal depends on your contrarian. If he is simply displaying self-oriented behavior and voicing his input either to hear himself speak or to control the group, that is a real problem. An honest look at his inputs can be very telling in this regard.

The positive side of having this type of individual on the taskforce is that he can prevent the group from nodding into a state of agreement without carefully considering a broader range of options. If he is truly focused on helping the quality of decisions by the group, his comments, criticism, and suggestions can actually be a source of innovative and creative solutions.

The best step in this case is to look honestly at the group and at this individual. It is also important to remember that groups that operate without any disagreement or conflict can often point to a lack of interest, involvement and passion on the part of the members. Disagreement in a group is often healthy, even if some disagree with this fact.

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September 30, 2009 Posted by | Q & A | Leave a comment

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September 30, 2009 Posted by | Definition, negotiation, Q & A, Types of conflict, Uncategorized | , , | Leave a comment

The snap decision

Q : My manager snapped at me in public and I snapped back at him. I know he’s upset with me, but i’m not sure if I should let it pass and avoid turning it into a bigger issue, or if I should meet with him to discuss it. What do you think?

A : If you and your manager snapped at each other, you should definitely meet with him to discuss what happened, and make it snappy. At this point, your encounter is an open wound, and if you leave it untreated, it will only become worse.

image0_tb01Instead of wondering if you should meet with him, the real issue is what to say when you sit down with him. before doing so, organize your thoughts as to what really occurred, and be prepared to deal with fact and behaviors, and not opinions and assumptions.

Open the discussion by thanking him for taking the time to meet with you. Tell him that you are most interested in working productively with him again. Walk him through the specifics of the incident, and tell him how you honestly feel. For example, if you were embarrassed or humiliated by the public reprimand, tell him. if you feel that your performance did or did not merit some negative feedback, tell him. And, if you feel that you may have overreacted by snapping back at him, tell him that too. The fact is that you both made a mistake. He should not have reprimanded you in public and you should not have snapped back at him in public.

Let him know that you will do all you can perform at a level that does not merit any reprimands, while committing to demonstrate more self-control when  receiving such feedback. Having made these conciliatory commitments, tell him that you and your fellow employees can be far more productive when feedback is provided in private. Ask him what he thinks and then be quiet and listen.

If he makes a commitment in return to try to privatize the public feedback, that is step in the right direction. However, if he cannot manage to make this small step, the fact is he cannot manage. This does not call for a snap decision on your part but it does have implications regarding your near-term career plans.

September 30, 2009 Posted by | Q & A | Leave a comment