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12.5.08 Issue #352 Forward This Newsletter To A Colleague

Dr. Nancy Haller
Dentist Coach
McKenzie Management
coach@ mckenziemgmt.com
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Build A Stronger Team Through Conflict

With so much negative media, it’s no wonder that we fear conflict. However, the real problem isn’t conflict. It’s when we ignore conflict and let it build that disagreements between people escalate into battles.

Considering the cultural, ethnic, racial, religious and even psychological diversity in the world (and in your office), it’s no surprise that people see things differently. Diversity is strength, if those differences are managed constructively. Conflict becomes destructive when it takes attention away from important activities, undermines morale, polarizes people and groups, and leads to irresponsible or harmful behaviors.

Early indicators of conflict are recognizable, and there are strategies for resolution that are available and DO work. In other words, although inevitable, conflict can be minimized, diverted and/or resolved. A good way to begin chipping away at the conflict in your team is for you and your employees to identify your styles of dealing with conflict. Encourage employees to answer these 15 questions on their own, and then discuss the results in a staff meeting.

For each statement below, mark the number that is most accurate, from 1 (rarely) to 5 (always).

1. I argue my case with my team members to show the merits of my position.

1

 

2

 

3

 

4

 

5

2. I negotiate with my team members so that a compromise can be reached.

1

 

2

 

3

 

4

 

5

3. I try to satisfy the expectations of my team members.

1

 

2

 

3

 

4

 

5

4. I try to investigate an issue with my team members to find a solution acceptable to all of us.

1

 

2

 

3

 

4

 

5

5. I am firm in pursuing my side of the issue.

1

 

2

 

3

 

4

 

5

6. I attempt to avoid being put on the spot and try to keep my conflict with team members to myself.

1

 

2

 

3

 

4

 

5

7. I hold onto my solution to a problem.

1

 

2

 

3

 

4

 

5

8. I use "give and take" so that a compromise can be reached.

1

 

2

 

3

 

4

 

5

9. I exchange accurate information with my team members so we can solve a problem together.

1

 

2

 

3

 

4

 

5

10. I avoid open discussion of my differences with my team members.

1

 

2

 

3

 

4

 

5

11. I accommodate the wishes of my team members.

1

 

2

 

3

 

4

 

5

12. I try to bring all our concerns out in the open so that the issues can be resolved in the best possible way.

1

 

2

 

3

 

4

 

5

13. I propose a middle ground for breaking deadlocks.

1

 

2

 

3

 

4

 

5

14. I go along with the suggestions of my team members.

1

 

2

 

3

 

4

 

5

15. I try to keep my disagreements with my team members to myself to avoid hard feelings.

1

 

2

 

3

 

4

 

5

Write your scores next to the number for that statement. Then total up the columns. Your primary conflict style is the category with the highest total. Your secondary style is the category with the next highest total.

 

Style A

Style B

Style C

Style D

Style E

 

 6.__

1.__

 3.__

 2.__

 4.__

 

10.__

5.__

11.__

 8.__

 9.__

 

15.__

7.__

14.__

13.__

12.__

Totals

____

____

____

____

____

Here’s what the scores suggest:
If you are Style A, you use Avoiding. It is likely that you tell yourself that it’s not worth the effort to argue, but conflicts worsen over time. Stop being a turtle or an ostrich. Get out of your shell and take your head out of the sand: Learn to be assertive.

If you are Style B, you are Accommodating. You tend to give in to others, sometimes to the extent that you compromise yourself. Conflict worsens over time, which causes conflict within you because there is an element of self-sacrifice in this approach.

If you are Style C, you are relying on Competing as a conflict strategy. You try to get your way, rather than to clarify and address issues. Competitors love accommodators. Although conflicts seem minimal on the surface, turnover and negativity are likely in the team.

If you are Style D, you are Compromising. You use a mutual give-and-take process to resolve conflict. This is most effective if two people both want exactly the same thing and it can be divided up or shared. Otherwise it’s better to work a little longer to find a mutually pleasing solution.

If you are Style E, you are a Collaborator. Congratulations! You try to get everyone working together, meeting as many current needs as possible. In all likelihood, you cultivate ownership and loyalty.

Strive to develop a collaborating culture in your office. Encourage everyone on your team to acknowledge, deal with and appreciate their differences and disagreements. Address conflict up front. It will lead to more open communication, higher productivity and increased professional and financial success for everyone.

If you would like to improve your ability—or your team’s ability—to manage conflict constructively, contact Dr. Haller at coach@mckenziemgmt.com.
Interested in having Dr. Haller speak to your dental society or study club? Click here.

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