You can spend upwards of 40 hours a week with your co-workers. Have you ever stopped to think that on any given weekday, you could be spending more time with your work family than your actual family? And unfortunately, you can’t choose who that work family is.
As is human nature, you’re not always going to like everyone you work with. It could be an insufferable micro-manager, a co-worker who does none of the work but takes all the credit, or a subordinate who knows how to push your buttons. Whatever it is, working with someone you don’t get along with can be distracting and demoralising, affecting not only your performance, but also your overall attitude and outlook. There’s nothing worse than dreading going to work. And often, avoiding that irksome colleague is simply not an option.
So how do you learn to work with someone you don’t like? Read on to learn about managing workplace conflict.
Using Whole Brain® Thinking to bridge the divide between co-workers
It might seem counterintuitive, but one way to ease the tension between yourself and a co-worker is to spend more time with them. By working more closely with someone you don’t like, you may gain a better understanding of why they act the way they do. Perhaps there are stressors in their life that you’ve never even considered.
Whole Brain® Thinking and the HBDI® assessment can give you the tools and techniques you need to better understand the people you work with. Often, conflict is simply a product of misunderstanding. By identifying your colleagues’ HBDI® profiles as well as your own, you can better understand each other’s thinking preferences.
Establishing greater understanding and appreciation for different ways of thinking is an effective way to bridge the divide between colleagues in conflict. Being able to understand the thinking that motivates someone to act the way they do can help you empathise with them and ease unnecessary conflict.
Whole Brain® Thinking also gives you the skills to adapt your thinking style when required, allowing for more effective communication with those who think differently to you. This is an especially powerful skill to possess in high-stress situations, such as during a high-stakes meeting or important project, when conflict is even more likely to rear its ugly head.
How to manage conflict in the workplace
But what if you’re a manager responsible for easing workplace conflict? Dealing with duelling staff members can be daunting, but if you’re unable to address conflict head-on, you risk enabling a toxic workplace that will affect employee morale and impact performance.
While the causes of workplace conflict can be varied, more often than not, they come down to communication. Maybe it was miscommunication over who’s responsible for what, a clash of ideas in a meeting, or simply differences in personalities. Whatever the problem, it can usually be attributed to a breakdown in communication.
Many businesses try to address workplace conflict by focusing on the behaviours, rather than the thinking that drives that behaviour.
Whole Brain® Thinking, on the other hand, can help your employees better understand each other and the way in which their colleagues prefer to communicate. Put a relational thinker and an analytical thinker on a project together, and their different thinking styles and communication preferences could cause the two to clash. For example, the relational thinker might want to approach a project with open discussions and storytelling, but this will do nothing for the analytical thinker, who’s only interested in facts and figures and is likely to tune out their co-worker “rambling”.
By helping team members understand how they prefer to think and how those preferences affect their approaches to communication and collaboration, you give them a shared foundation they can all agree on and a common, easy-to-use language to move forward with. That shared foundation also goes a long way towards building trust.
Download our case study to learn how Slagelse Municipality found common ground with Whole Brain® Thinking
These skills are even more critical when you have a diverse team. Diverse teams are more likely to experience conflict. That’s because they can bring widely different interests, values, opinions, perspectives and goals to a project or workplace. However, diverse teams are also more creative and are far better problem-solvers.
Conflict resolution should never involve removing diversity from your team. A business needs diversity to perform at its best. Besides, any business needs to be able to coordinate the interests of different stakeholders. But there is an art to managing diverse teams to ensure that their differences are a strength rather than a weakness.
Building Whole Brain® Thinking skills into the workplace is one way to leverage the full potential of a diverse team, giving employees the tools to improve communications and reduce conflict for better performance.
How to use Whole Brain® Thinking to create a high-performing, conflict-free team
If you’re looking for a way to bridge the gap between co-workers who don’t get along, Whole Brain® Thinking could be the answer to creating a shared language, understanding and empathy.
Enquire today about our ThinkAbout™ Teams workshop and how the program could help you build a more cohesive team.