"How do I deal with conflict?"

By Katherine Hood on January 08, 2024


This post is an answer to a submitted question. It aims to provide help and solutions to overcome the issue.

Podcast version: HERE

Quote: It's how you respond that matters, not what actually happened. You can let this event shape your character rather than letting it break you down. It's all in how you perceive it.

Submitted Question

"I recently discovered that a man I had minimal interaction with described me as "difficult to manage," and I couldn't be more proud. I was unexpectedly assigned to work with this individual, who immediately assumed the role of boss but rarely made time for one-on-one discussions with me. From the very beginning, he expected me to unquestioningly obey his orders, disregarding my experience and the successful work I had accomplished prior to his arrival. He insisted on micromanaging every aspect of my job. Furthermore, he wasted no time in complaining to others about my alleged difficulty, doing so behind my back. If he had made the time to work alongside me, he would have learned that I have great time and task management skills. Deadlines motivate me, not fear of an "angry boss." I voice my expert opinion. I do so respectfully and expect feedback.  How do I deal with being called "difficult" to your face or behind your back?"

My Response if we were in a coaching setting. Although without being able to ask questions, I may assume or use scenarios to fill in the gaps.

I’m sorry that you find yourself in this situation, what I hear is a conflict at work is creating tension and disconnect. Working with other people can be frustrating and confusing, as a result can bring the quality of your work experience down.

I get the impression you’re proud of how you handled this situation, you’d even said you couldn’t be more proud, is that really true?

Are you proud?

Is this interaction building goodwill in this relationship or is it breaking it down by having expectations in your mind how things should be?

Is this the behavior you want to model to other employees, and the real boss?

By how things were handled was it creating healthy open communication or has it created positioning, defensiveness, and protection of ones way of doing things? Deeming one is right and the other as wrong?

How is this creating teamwork, building trust, working together?

You have power over your mind not outside events, realize this and you will find strength." — Seneca

Look within, figure out where your impressions, expectations, and judgments are coming from, with curiosity. Are you rigid in some way?

What would happen if you were more open, and invited collaboration? I get the impression they weren't leading with wanting to hear your thoughts, views and how you envision working on the project, it just takes one to shift the energy.

Expectations lead to disappointment every time.

Expectations are internal rules created via your thoughts, experience in life, and how you think things should be. No one is a mind reader.

Agreements, on the other hand, are rules of engagement that are created collaboratively by all parties. Open, healthy communication with a common goal in this situation is likely to bring people together to work as a team, tapping into each other's strengths, making time for each to express their thoughts and feelings, and getting things done efficiently and effectively. Everyone should feel included, heard, and that they have contributed to the overall mission of the organization.

I don’t get the impression this happened. How open are you to trying this new approach?

When we are open, and curious to how others see projects or assignments we can see each others strengths and delegation naturally takes place. Everyone works together in tandem.

Empathy is a skill that’s learned, takes being intentional and not always a natural skill for some they have to be more conscious and aware, no shade, it’s something I have to be aware of.

Seeking to understand another person, their perspective, how they envision things happening, how they feel, what’s important to them, their concerns, worries and really listening to them. I get the impression that you two don’t know each other, and both feel unheard. When ever I feel tension I purposely pull the person to the side and ask them to share with me their vision, give them the mic and have them tell me how they see things getting done. More often than not they have good ideas and things I never thought of.

If one feels the other is difficult that give the impression that they feel the other is closed off, not open minded, and willing to understand or listen to the other.  There may not be much if any goodwill and trust build in the relationship and this creates more tension, positioning and dissonance.

The energy we want to get in any relationship, we have to be willing to put it out.

Respect is one you’ve spoken of, what does respect mean to you?

Are you putting out energy to get respect in return?

This is communicated via your energy, your body language, facial expressions, your tone of voice, your words, your openness, availability and approachability.

There used to be a type of person I thought made me feel upset. After realizing no person can inject feelings into me, that all my feelings are created via my own thoughts I then realized I had to do my own internal work. It became clear there's nothing wrong with the other person they are just being and doing what they believe to be normal, in their mind they are right and they are working from their own impressions, expectations, and judgements.

Seek to understand verses being understood.

I hope this helps. I wish you all the best. Please share this with anyone you believe would benefit from the insights. Post a comment, I read and reply to them all. Thank you in advance!

If you want to send a question, please send to [email protected] please include:

  • A coachable question (something that addresses what's in your control, your thoughts, feelings or actions.)

  • And context, explain a situation in the past, currently going through, or worries/concerns of the future, giving me some details on your thoughts and feelings about it.

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