Showing posts with label Escalation. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Escalation. Show all posts

March 27, 2019

Having Those Difficult Conversations

Took an interesting class recently in having difficult conversations.

These are the conversations you need to have about performance, accountability, expectations, bad news, conflict, and so on. 

Often these are the conversations we tend to avoid, because we don't know how to have them without making things worse where things get emotionally charged, people become defensive, things gets misinterpreted, and they get escalated. 

And it's even more difficult when there is a discrepancy in power between the people having the dialogue. 

But it is important to have the critical conversations in order to solve the underlying problems!

Often problems are rooted in that we judge others too quickly and erroneously, or we just don't have all the facts. 

The data points we do have get filtered, interpreted, assumptions are made, conclusions are drawn, beliefs are adopted, and actions are taken that may be wrong (reference: The Ladder of Inference by Chris Argyris).

The key to having a productive conversation is to explain the issue and the impact, acknowledge your part in the problem, describe the desired outcome for the relationship and the work, and most importantly, give space for the other person to respond.

We need to get the other person's point of view, including the data points that we may have missed or misunderstood, generate options, and agree how to solve the issue.

Unfortunately, there are times when the other person digs in and isn't open to working on or resolving the problem, in which case you may need to decide whether to grin and bear it (i.e. live with it) or leave the relationship, because it has become too unproductive and toxic. 

The instructor said it well: This is about problem-solving. But life is too short to deal with jerks!  ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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July 25, 2017

Conflict - Resolution or Escalation

So I thought this was interesting on the cause of conflict. 

There are four main parts:

1) Deprivation - You believe that someone is depriving you of something you need or want. This could be something physical like money, or an object or it could be inanimate such as love or respect. The feeling of deprivation is anchored in a real or perceived feeling or being deprived of access to resources or the imbalance who has those resources. 

2) Name - You identify the person you feel is causing you this deprivation. 

3) Blame - You blame them for their role in causing you harm. 

4) Claim - You justify the accusation by anchoring it in a claim that the other person has violated some social norm such as taking something that doesn't belong to them or violating an agreement you have with them and so on. 

As the conflict comes to a head, it is clear that people are feeling hurt, that there is a desire to correct the situation, and that you are going to confront the (perceived) culprit and make your case on why what they are doing is wrong and how it should be resolved. 

If you have the wrong person in the cross-hairs, your justification is weak or you're not telling the whole story (i.e. maybe you played a part or harmed the other person too), or the person just won't give you a fair hearing and sincerely work with you to resolve it, then the conflict may escalate from here.  

Usually, it's best to listen, empathize, negotiate, compromise, try to be reasonable, and resolve the situation at the earliest point possible.

If there is a greater conflict or risk to either party involved, then heels may get dug in and all avenues to resolving it can be open including legal and even all out war. 

Conflict is no game, but in some cases it may be unavoidable--and then the ramifications can be earth shattering. 

What to do when you're in a conflict situation? Think before you act, and then think again. 

Ultimately, peace is one of the greatest of blessings. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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October 8, 2015

Please Tell Us Your Diabolical Intentions

So Russia is escalating in Syria (from devastating air strikes to sea-launched cruise missiles, and now a possible land offensive) and even considering expanding into Iraq. 


"We believe this is a fundamental mistake."  --Maybe a mistake for us, but not for Russia who is wielding their mighty bear claws and showing a decisive victory!  


"We are not prepared to cooperate on strategy."  -- Is this perhaps because we don't have one, and Russia apparently does. 

"Syria is not going to turn into a proxy war between the Russia and the United States." -- Okay, so the alternative is to capitulate and give the Middle East over to Russia, like with Crimea and Eastern Ukraine. And what then will we let over to the Russians, Chinese, and Iranians next (because there's no reason for them to stop there)? 

"One of the profound difficulties dealing with Russia in Syria or elsewhere is how opaque Putin's intentions are and how the Russia system lies about what they are up to." -- Gee whiz, we can't figure out what Russia is up to as they slam Assad's opposition (that we are supporting) into smithereens? We're expecting the competition to tell us their strategy, and why should they do that? 

This last one is perhaps the most bizarre as we all implicitly understand that an adversary is not going to divulge their strategy, and moreover are using misinformation and deception to throw us off balance and advance their objectives. 

It is time for us to bring sanity back to the military equation here.

Immediately...

- Establish a no fly zone over Syria. 

- Put our own base on the ground or military assets into sharp play. 

- Issue a cease and desist ultimatum and mean it. 

The time for losing is over, and the time for winning must begin. 

We can pretend that we can look the other way and simply avoid a conflict, but all we are doing is bringing ever more devastating confrontation that much closer as we lose ground, credibility, and allies (who fear the commitment and iron hand of Russia far more than our own wavering and dubious one)--and we deceive ourselves far more than our adversaries could ever deceive us. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

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January 30, 2015

Going To War, In The Office

So occasionally in the office, people perhaps forget where they are...

And instead of working together to solve problems, they go to war with each other and make more problems. 

Yes, there are power politics and plenty of my slice of the pie versus your slice of the pie--whose slice is bigger, whose got more cheese and toppings, and whose slice is pipping hot. 

Most often these office controversies happen behind the scenes or closed doors.

Behind the scenes, you can't see the knives violently slashing and behind paper-thin closed doors you (usually) can't hear the screaming!

But every once in a while the "passion" of the work spills over into the public domain--sometimes in a meeting, hallway, cafeteria, or the even the company picnic. 

In all these cases, the professionalism goes out the window way too fast and out comes the drawing of lines in sand, the I'm right and you're wrong (including wagers for a good lunch or even maybe a nice crisp $100 bill), and threats to escalate (as if this wasn't ugly enough already).

What comes over people in the moment--perhaps they simply feel like they are in the right or that they are simply defending themselves, or maybe there is spillover from problems at home, ego at play, socialization issues, or even personality disorders.

Whatever the reason, as one of my best friend's fathers used to say, "When 2 people fight, they are both wrong!"

Or some people say that "they both end up with black eyes"--even if one comes away worse than the other...

And I think if you've ever had a car accident with another driver, you would know that the insurance companies agree with this principle, and attribute some portion of blame to each driver--whether 50/50 or 99/1--everybody plays a part whether in an accident, dispute, or an all out brawl.

What's interesting watching these unfold is how the participants are almost in their own world with everyone else as bystanders, sort of just fading into the distance--so they do everything wrong:

They speak emphatically in absolutes (and maybe even yell a little), cite chapter and verse (but from different books), name drop (ever bigger executives in the organization whether they really know them or their positions on the issues or not), name call and make personal digs, and perhaps--although it should absolutely never come to this--get physical (like slamming their portfolios, coffee mugs, and doors, or I heard one person who even threw something at their colleague).

Aside from these folks typically losing the argument and whatever they were after, what's worse is they lose everyone's respect, and maybe even their jobs. 

The arrow of the workplace fight shoots way up, and comes down hard and fast right in their behinds...it's a stupid, but endlessly painful and deserved ouch.  ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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June 30, 2013

When To Build Relationships Or Burn Your Bridges

Why marriages (and relationships) fail is a topic of discussion in the book Fighting For Your Marriage by Markman, Stanley, and Blumberg.

The book is anchored in research from the University of Denver and their Prevention and Relationship Enhancement Program (PREP). 

So here are the four main reasons:

1. Escalation--People escalate the fight, rather than deescalate it. Harmful words and actions beget more harmful words and actions as each side tries to win the fight, rather than save the relationship. 

2. Invalidation--You put down the other person (their feelings, thoughts, and character) with sarcasm, disrespect, and contempt, rather than raise them up with understanding, concern, comfort, and encouragement. 

3. Accusation--Assuming the worst, you negatively interpret the actions and motives of another person, rather than looking at and accentuating the positive and giving them the benefit of the doubt.

4. Abandonment--Leaving the person emotionally and/or physically, you withdraw and avoid them and possibly even cheat on them, rather than engaging with and cleaving to each other, and working together to solve problems.

Essentially, these relationship issues all have to do with a breakdown of communication and trust--where instead of trying to work it out, there is a feeling that nothing can be solved by talking anymore and that there is no reason to even trust the other person.

Once trust and communication are broken--it is very difficult to go back and rebuild it.

Then instead of mending fences, people may choose the nuclear option: go to war, fight it out, threaten, hurt, or leave--and the relationship spirals to a timely demise. 

What was once a nuclear family, or close relationship (friends, associates, etc.), may end up a broken and shattered one, full of hatred and as enemy combatants, perhaps not much better than the Hatfields and McCoys. 

So the first thing is you have to decide whether you want to build the relationship or end it. 

If you love the other person and want to be with them (and they with you)--then say and do positive things to maintain communication and trust--give selflessly to each other. 

Relationships thrive when people behave as true friends, looking out for one another, sincerely--when they help their partners achieve their goals, grow as human beings, and find meaning and happiness. 

A relationship is not a business transaction, but a joining of hearts and an intimacy of soul--it is based on mutual respect and goodwill. 

If you really value the other person and the relationship--don't burn your bridges when things get heated, but cross and meet the other person (at least) halfway and embrace them with love and caring--most of the time, it will come back to you. 

But at the same time don't be a fool--if the other person is wicked and cruel, out only for themselves, and would throw you under a bus in a moment--get with it and quick because the bridge is already burning and at a very high temperature. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)


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