Have you tried Dynamic Facilitation?

You've probably been in at least one meeting with a facilitator who used one white board to capture ideas.

I use 3!

Dynamic Facilitation provides the framework to have a difficult conversation successfully. 

In Dynamic Facilitation, the facilitator uses three charts at once:  Perspectives, Solutions, and Concerns.  Each person who speaks provides his/her Perspective on or data about the problem.  The person is also asked to provide a potential Solution to the problem.  If a person has a Concern about a potential Solution, that is included as well.  Then the person is asked, given that Concern, what the potential Solution could be.

Dynamic Facilitation is solution-focused, but not in a way that is stifling.  Dynamic Facilitation moves people from focusing on the problem, which can cause feelings of helplessness, frustration, powerlessness, to focusing on the solution, which motivates action-oriented, powerful change. 

1.       Dynamic Facilitation is useful in coaching, as it moves a person from stuck into action.

2.       Dynamic Facilitation is useful for having a difficult conversation between two or more people.  It gets the issues out onto the table to be dealt with and it provides the participants with concrete solutions for those issues.

3.       Dynamic Facilitation is useful for a team working on a tough problem.  It provides the necessary framework to gather data, generate potential solutions, and highlight concerns that may come up.

If you are struggling with a tough decision, if your team is stuck and unable to move forward, contact me.  Let's see if Dynamic Facilitation can help you to move from stuck to solution.

moving workplace conflict from dysfunctional to functional

When I get a call about workplace conflict, I often find that:

1. The situation has been brewing for a long time.

2. There have been repeated violations of social norms.

3. The person monitoring the situation tends to want to avoid conflict.

4. A quick fix is most desired.

It is unlikely that there is a quick fix available in this scenario.

The quickest fix might be to coach the person monitoring the situation.

Teaching people how to handle conflict respectfully and functionally is a process.  Having people learn new ways to handle conflict and actually implement these new procedures and keep acting on them until they become habits takes time.  A lot of time.  It takes 21 days to cement a habit and that's when you're doing the action daily.

When you are looking at conflict, you have to look at what is happening in the system, not just what is happening with respect to one or two individuals.  What are the unspoken rules with respect to conflict in the organization?  Are there certain people who are allowed to be "high maintenance?"  I have seen this with high performers, owners, friends of owners, those with tenure or seniority, and more.  Is the company really going to do anything about these people's behaviors?  Or are the rest of the people simply expected to tiptoe around these people?

Is the company so hierarchical that there is no place for true discussion among those of different ranks?  Is the expectation simply that those below will do what they are told to do by those above?  This often means that those below will be blamed for the conflict and told what they need to do, without anyone above taking a moment to listen to why this is happening.

Is there an unspoken rule that everyone gets along, that there is no conflict in the organization?  This can drive conflict underground and you will see it coming out in passive-aggressive ways.  This also can result in no accountability for bad behavior.

To move workplace conflict from dysfunctional to functional, you have to look first at what is causing the conflict. 

1. Put on your investigator hat and start asking questions.  Be curious.  Be open-minded.  Make your questions as open-ended as possible.  Don't presuppose that you know the answer -- you will start to hear only things that support your answer and discount everything that doesn't.  Get an outsider's perspective. 

2. Call in someone else, like me, to do the investigation for you and/or to talk the situation through with.

Only after you know what is causing the conflict, both from a systems perspective and at a personal level, can you effectively address the conflict and move it from dysfunctional to functional.

 

Post-Election Conflict

We have been through the most divisive election I have seen in my lifetime.  I am still trying to make sense of all of it -- the lead up, election night, and the country as it stands now, still sharply divided.

I have seen posts from people across the nation whose families are sharply divided as a result of this election.  There are marriages on the rocks as a result of this election.  There are families whose members celebrated Thanksgiving apart as a result of this election and will likely celebrate Christmas separately as well. 

People are moving as a result of this election.  Hate crimes are up.  Anonymous threatening letters are left at residences, at mosques.  Children chant, "Build that wall," at other children in school. 

People are protesting as a result of this election.  They have taken to the streets, and what was supposed to be a peaceful protest has turned violent in many instances.

Martin Luther King, Jr., said, "Riots are the voices of the unheard."  This election has brought forth a lot of voices of the unheard on both sides.  The Alt-Right and KKK are celebrating, seeing Trump's victory as a victory for them, for their unheard voices.  Clinton supporters are protesting, seeing Trump's victory as a quashing of their voices.

Many of us feel unsafe in our own country, more unsafe than we did before the election.

At work, things are no better.  Hate speech has increased.  While some workplaces have been quick to crack down on hate speech, I would imagine that others are more inclined to let it slide.

Trust has been eroded on both sides.  Clinton supporters are shaken by Trump's rhetoric and his Cabinet postings.  Clinton supporters are horrified that all of Trump's negative qualities were so easily ignored by his supporters.  Trump supporters are shaken by Clinton supporters' protests.  Trump supporters want to move on as we have in the past after other elections, want Clinton supporters to just recognize that Trump won and let it go.

There is a quote from "The Way We Were," that keeps running through my head:

Hubbell Gardner: People are more important than their principles.

Katie Morosky Gardner: But Hubbell, people ARE their principles.

There have been calls for people to reach out to those with whom they disagree.  This would be the Hubbell view of the world -- people are more important than their principles.  See the good in them, despite the parts with which you disagree.  After all, we are all people.

There have also been calls for opposition against those with whom they disagree.  This would be the Katie view of the world -- people ARE their principles.  See people for all that they are and judge accordingly.  Don't give them the benefit of the doubt just for being people.

I am wondering if there is a way to hold both Hubbell's view of the world and Katie's view of the world at the same time.  People ARE their principles.  At the same time, PEOPLE are more important than their principles.

We have learned a lot about each other this election season.  We may not like what we have learned, but we do have the opportunity to grow from it if we learn from it.

We need to have discussions with people with whom we disagree.  At the same time, we have to expect that during those discussions, we will disagree.  We need to find a way to be open to hearing what is being said by the other person, while also ensuring that we are heard as well.

Martin Luther King, Sr., said, "Don't hate.  It's too big a burden to bear."  It's true.  Hate eats away at you over time.  It can be easy in the immediate, but it's hard to maintain.  We cannot move forward together if we hate each other at the same time.

Martin Luther King, Jr., said, "The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy."  We are in a time of challenge and controversy.  We have been tested by this election.  We will be tested by this election.  We all have a choice to make -- where do we stand?  Can we hold both Hubbell and Katie in our hearts at the same time?  People ARE their principles.  At the same time, PEOPLE are more important than their principles.

 

What to do with an annoying person at work

Let's be honest.  Even if we like our jobs and we like the majority of our co-workers, we all have at least one person we have to be in contact with at work that we would rather do without. 

If we are lucky, that person is external, rather than internal -- clients, customers, other business people from other organizations, etc.  We don't have to see them on a regular basis and we can grit our teeth and get through it when we need to.

When the person is internal, though, we are in a different position.  We may try to grit our teeth and get through it, but the constant gritting of teeth can lead to jaw pain or even a cracked molar.  Moreover, our body is constantly triggered into fight, flight or freeze.  Over time, we become a little extra sensitive or hyper-vigilant to the other person's behaviors which annoy us. 

We may find ourselves actually looking for that little bit that annoys us most just to prove to ourselves that yes, that person still is incredibly annoying and justify our dislike of that person.

We may find ourselves avoiding that person and praying that person avoids us as well (then perhaps noting that they did and feeling left out).

We may find ourselves making snarky comments about the person to other people and/or to the person directly.  Even if we are able to keep from making a snarky comment with our out loud voice, we may still be thinking plenty of snarky comments and our facial expressions may give us away.

So, what can we do about this annoying person?

I know that you want to have a magic wand that will make the other person less annoying.  You don't have that level of control over the other person.  You do have that level of control over you, though.

Take some time to answer the following questions for yourself:  What is it that you find annoying about the other person?  What behaviors of theirs are particularly challenging for you?  Why are they triggering for you?  Should you even be around this other person?  What can you do to be less triggered in this situation (if anything)? 

When you process what is annoying you and why you are triggered, you are able to move from responding only emotionally to analyzing the problem intellectually.  You may find some parts of yourself that you didn't realize existed and might not even like very much.  You may find that if you make a list of the positive attributes of the person and remind yourself of those attributes when you are triggered, you are better able to see the good in the other person and be less triggered.

1. Do you have the ability to fire the person?  If so, that is an option.  You could instead a. try to work it out with that person, b. find a way to move past it yourself, c. build in small, measurable goals for that person that have to do with changing the behaviors that are most annoying to you (and see if that person can meet those goals).  If not, then....

2. Does the other person have the ability to fire you?  If so, you can a. try to work it out with that person, b. try complaining to a person above that person (if any), c. find a way to move past it yourself, or d. look for another job (before that person fires you).  If not, then....

3. Are you on equal footing with the other person?  If so, then you can a. try to work it out with that person, b. try complaining to a person above that person, c. find a way to move past it yourself, or d. look for another job (before you crack a molar from gritting your teeth).

Please note, however, that sometimes we are triggered by people who may actually be dangerous to us, whether emotionally, physically or sexually.  While most conflicts result from good people with different ideas as to how the world works, there are also conflicts that result from one or more people behaving in a toxic manner.  If you are in that situation, your choices are limited.  It is unlikely that you will be able to work through the conflict with this person.  You may find a way to move past it yourself.  You may find that you don't feel emotionally and/or sexually and/or physically safe in the workplace as a whole or around this person in particular.  If you are in that position and your complaints to upper management have been for naught (or there is no upper management to whom to complain), then your options are 1. stay and be miserable or 2. leave.  There is no third option.