Amongst all of the varied ways by which people work, there are usually a few consistent workplace dynamics, and with those dynamics expectations that come with them. In many ways, unmet expectations are one of the most fundamental causes of interpersonal conflict, because our expectations speak directly to how we view and value the world. Our ability to balance our and others’ expectations is directly related to our ability to prevent conflicts before they even occur, and to understand and resolve them when they do.
“How do I deal with my narcissistic boss?” is the most common complaint I get about high conflict people in the workplace. They are everywhere, and seem to be increasing these days – from the lowest supervisor to the self-destructive owner of the business.
That I am writing this article tends to prove the thesis of this article—different generations have different goals and priorities regarding career, life, and workplace. In the spirit of full disclosure, I border Generation X and Y, and identify with characteristics of both groups. In line with Generation X-ers, I believe there is more to life than one’s job or career, and I make time to write articles because it is fulfilling in a way that my career as a litigation attorney is not. This article is intended to provide the briefest of primers on how generational differences can play out in the workplace to create conflict.
Option identification is an essential step in the process of resolving any conflict, including seemingly intractable situations. In a conflict resolution scenario, once all parties to the conflict have identified the issues under contention, they should systematically list ALL options that they see available to them for advancing their interests.
Conflict assessment is the essential first stage in the process of conflict management and resolution. A primary goal of such assessment is for all concerned parties to gain a deeper understanding of the dynamics inherent in their relationships. This understanding not only clarifies one’s own interests and positions, but leads to an acknowledgement of the basis for the interests and positions held by others, and thereby promotes reflection by the stakeholders.
We mediate not in the abstract, but within a given society and culture which define the parameters of what is possible and acceptable. These parameters are paradigms, which limit our capacity to creatively respond to conflict. For this reason, Amilcar Cabral said “liberation is necessarily an act of culture.”
Mediation is a unique way of resolving a dispute. While Arbitration and Litigation focus on a person authorizing or “handing down” a decision to resolve a conflict, negotiation and mediation are about parties coming together to resolve a dispute. Unlike negotiations, mediation involves a neutral or advocate who assists the parties.