3 Ted Talks Conflict Resolution in the Workplace Can Benefit From | Pollack Peacebuilding Systems

December 18, 2020by Vanessa Rose

Everyone loves a good Ted Talk. Storytelling is a source of connection, entertainment, and education so when we’re talking about a rupture in interpersonal connection through conflict in the workplace, the humanity in a Ted Talk can be the perfect facilitator of growth. There are many Ted Talks conflict resolution in the workplace can benefit from but here we’ll share 3 that can be helpful within your organization.

Ted Talks Conflict Resolution in the Workplace Can Benefit From

Getting different perspectives on solving employee conflict is important since no two people are entirely alike. If you’re managing a team of different personalities, you may want a variety of tools to apply to potential conflict. Here are 3 Ted Talks conflict resolution in the workplace can reap the benefits of.

Why There’s So Much Conflict at Work and What You Can Do to Fix It

In this talk, Liz Kislik, management consultant and business coach says “people can be very annoying, but they’re really just the part of the story that’s easiest to see.” Her philosophy is that we believe conflict wouldn’t exist if the annoying people around us could just work themselves out. But this attitude causes us to say and do things that perpetuate conflict and damage relationships, as well as the larger organization. When we see people inherently as the problem, as the cause of conflict, we in fact create it.

Instead, she suggests, we should look at the structures that live under the conflict. The policies and procedures, habits and company culture, the tools available for effective work, the org structure and hierarchy of power, the channels of feedback and trust between employees and employer, the values and priorities of the organization and each individual, fears and anxiety. Kislik says it’s unfair to blame people for conflict entirely, when conflict may instead be an indication of necessary structural changes.
To address this, Kislik offers 5 steps to resolve conflict at work:

    1. Address Human Sources: She suggests ruling out any dysfunctional people that may actually be causing the problem. This means not blaming people for structural issues but recognizing when there are people who are actually dangerous to collective growth.
    2. Ask the Right People the Right Questions: Don’t start at the top, Kislik says. Ask the people who are on the frontlines doing the work every day to share different perspectives on the challenges of their work.
    3. Get Aligned: Get clear about expectations for change. What behaviors should be changing? Who makes the decisions? Who is expected to do what to whom? How are new changes going to be carried out? Who will be responsible for following up?
    4. Find Allies at All Levels: Engage folks from all levels of the organization to support the implementation and maintenance of identified change.
    5. Teach New Habits for Maintaining Differences: Offer your team the tools they need to succeed in an ever-growing environment. This includes communication skills training and building new habits for regulating work stress, emotional distress, and anxious thinking.

What Productive Conflict Can Offer a Workplace

In this Ted Talk, Jess Kutch, a labor organizer, discusses her perspective on the benefits of conflict. She runs the website coworker.org which aims to join colleagues in effort to organize for improvements in the workplace.
Kutch says that people engage in conflict when they care, not the opposite which is so often assumed. She also shares that the uncertainties that can arise with conflict are actually opportunities to find the issues that persist in your workplace. “We all need to be shaping and participating in the future of work,” she says, which means all levels of the company need to be contributing to change. As a manager, be open to feedback and the concerns of your employees because it’s an opportunity to build a better workplace, which has larger impacts on work culture and the economy.

3 Ways to Resolve Conflict

This Ted Talk has Project Manager Dorothy Walker sharing 3 steps to conflict resolution for employees through managing emotional energy. “Your energy and emotions are contagious,” she says, and for better or worse we’re sharing those with each other. This is a process she calls energy transference, and we’re likely to have experienced this when one grumpy coworker sinks the mood of the whole meeting or one energized sports fan can amp up the crowd around them.

Walker says that all parties of the conflict must want to work it out in order for resolutions steps to be effective. But if they don’t, unstick a conflict and move it forward with positive energy with the following steps.

    1. Prepare: Don’t jump to solutions when emotions are high. Plan ahead for a time when emotions can settle so the conversation can be more productive.
    2. Diffuse and Move forward: Observe, listen, validate, and ask questions to diffuse tension and allow some positive energy to be exchanged through productive conversation. refocus on new ideas rather than fixed points of view.
    3. Make an Agreement: Once the energy is neutral, get a consensus and have all parties agree to a plan of action.

As seen from these 3 Ted Talks, conflict resolution in the workplace doesn’t have to feel overwhelming or out of reach. There are several ways to approach solving employee conflict and if finding the right one for your team feels challenging, get support from neutral and experienced professionals who can diffuse rather than ignite the tension at work. Contact Pollack Peacebuilding Systems today to get the right solutions for your team.

Vanessa Rose

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