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Microsoft word - teamwork - handling conflict in teamsTeamwork - Understanding the hindrances
What are some common hindrances to teamwork?
A. An overemphasis on hierarchy and red-tape.
Genuine teamwork does not focus on level, hierarchy or status.
B. Reward structures that are not team-oriented.
You get what you pay for– if you want teamwork, you must reward it. Exhorting team
effort while rewarding stars will get you more stars. Most organizations reward individual
success, making real teamwork extremely difficult.
C. Unhealthy conformity.
It is important not to stifle individuality and healthy conflict in the name of teamwork.
Avoid ‘groupthink’ by rewarding openness – thank people for bad news and for disagreeing
with you. Frowning and being defensive about your views will turn teamwork into
D. Lack of openness.
This openness does not mean one should go to the other extreme of accepting endless
discussion. Genuine teamwork reduces isolation and makes change less frightening.
E. Lack of ongoing self-assessment.
Effective teams use a process to review regularly how they are doing.
F. Too many generalists and not enough specialists.
Team members contribute specialist knowledge, but they should be encouraged to be
generalists in the way they behave in the team– at different times leading, enhancing
harmony, and generating new ideas.
G. Low emotional competence.
Good leaders understand how team members differ in terms of their personalities and
H. Perpetuating a team environment that is dysfunctional
5 Dysfunctions of a team – Patrick Lencioni:
1. Inattention to Results
2. Avoidance of Accountability
3. Lack of Commitment
4. Fear of Conflict
5. Absence of Trust
1 Corporate Legends 2013, Paul Nyamuda
Techniques for Handling Conflict
Hamlin (1988) outlines why people get hostile when it comes to asking questions in a public setting, and how this can be handled in such a group setting: 1. Passion – we can and do get worked up over issues and some people have less self-
control than others. Those who are guided by gut reactions more than logic, whose families were given to more volatile responses, are most prone to this. 2. Fear and threat – Thinking, “My life or work will change because of this message.
Maybe I can’t handle it,” causes some real agitation and attendant loss of control. 3. Self-protection – Attacking the messenger is an ancient problem. In an effort to focus
on “Whose idea is this anyway?” and “Why should I change?” belligerence and a need to blame someone follow fear and threat. 4. Defensiveness – People sometimes start out calmly enough to discuss something they
disagree with, but then lose their cool when they feel outclassed by logic and hard facts, and become defensive, then aggressive. Hostility covers embarrassment. 5. Lack of information – sometimes people build entrenched positions based on bias or
one point of view. They can cleave most passionately to this, especially as part of a group. Not having information about the other point of view or the people who have it causes hostility when they are confronted with it. You also draw hostility by simply representing the hated other side. 6. Sense of impotence – Feeling unable to halt or change something with its resultant
sense of loss of control can have the effect of despair for some and real change for others. 7. Resentment of opposition figures – Images of someone with more power, influence,
money, status and information can cause resentment and jealousy to the point of hostility and anger. 8. Isolation – We all need a sense of constituency or identification in a group. Being the
only one who feels differently sometimes causes overreaction and anger. What are some guidelines for dealing with confrontations?
A. Have a clear and systematic methodology for dealing with confrontations.
1. Seek first to understand before being understood (Ask for the other view point to be 2. Explain the situation the way you see it 3. Describe how it is affecting performance 4. Agree on the problem 5. Explore and discuss possible solutions 6. Agree on what each person will do to solve the problem 7. Set a date for follow-up if necessary 2 Corporate Legends 2013, Paul Nyamuda
B. Learn to manage your hostility.
Hamlin (1988) outlines that in a public setting one of the major goals in confronting hostility
and resolving it is to show your audience that you can stay in control of your feelings and
your facts, and to continue to convince them, even if you are verbally assaulted.
Techniques for handling hostility when answering questions are outlined below:
1. Take a breath
When tempers start to fly, our typical next step is to fight back. This is not useful and not
recommended as the best response. And, you actually have the time and room to decide on
a course of action. Your opponent is already hostile; you are not. So you are at a much lower
level of emotion than he or she is. Therefore the first step in handling hostility is to buy time
so you can calm down and think.
2. Identify the hostility
Suppose your trousers dropped around your ankles while delivering a speech. What would
you do? Try shuffling off the stage with a smile, pretending they’re not down around your
ankles? Or would you bend down, pick them up, and comment on how the audience is
getting to know more about you than just your subject matter? Choice 1 means you think
they are sightless, totally without feelings or quite accustomed to people losing their
trousers. Choice 2 says, “You and I both know what happened and how it feels. Instead of
trying to hide, what can I do now to put us both at ease?” The biggest mistake people make
when trying to handle a hostile questioner is to pretend its not happening. This makes the
audience more uncomfortable. They can see what just happened. We are all quick to
identify conflict. They are concerned about what you will do next. Going blithely on makes
you seem either too weak to handle it or too stupid to see it. When someone is hostile or
angry publicly you have to deal with it publicly.
3. Understand the anger
In understanding anger you ought to be able to name it. (E.g. “I see you are very committed to a point of view about this.”) This provides an immediate antidote. You have actually implied, “Its okay. I understand.” You have taken him out of the realm of feeling defensive about the fact of his anger or hostility and into the beginnings of talking about what he’s angry about. And you have saved face for both of you. So don’t put someone’s anger down, just say that you see it, you are sympathetic to it, then let them talk it out. By absorbing the reasons why people get angry and hostile you can handle them better. When you identify the real source of someone’s hostility, you can find a way to connect his or her anger to a point of view you can talk about. Pinpointing the discussion to the underlying issue helps cut the anger out of the conversation. The key is in maintaining a posture of honouring your opponent. 4. Get out of the personal realm
Since hostility often turns to personal attack, don’t start out defending yourself. The goal is to get to a factual level, not remain on the personal one. “I know your main goal is to get to the bottom of the issue, not necessarily to have a personal grudge match with me. Actually we don’t even know each other! So, as I hear it, you’re concerned about…” 3 Corporate Legends 2013, Paul Nyamuda
5. Find something common
“You know, although we seem to be disagreeing, we actually have something in common. We both care very much about the issue. I see why you are so worked up. So am I! 6. Ask for further clarification
This means you have to get your opponent to try to focus on the exact objection he or she has. Often when people are hostile they can become unfocussed and lack clarity. “To help me respond to exactly what your anger is about please tell me the essence.” 7. Settle for disagreement
There are times when you need to just agree to disagree. The aim is to end on a positive note, and to affirm that you have heard their opinions. In many such public encounters, the challenge lies in the fact that one is not just trying to handle the questions but one is also in a continuous process of managing one’s audience. What are some common miscommunication styles in conflict?
Discuss which of the following communication styles you use
A. The Avoider
The avoider refuses to fight. When a conflict arises, he’ll leave, fall asleep, pretend to be
busy at work, or keep from facing the problem in some other way. This behaviour makes it
very difficult for another to express his feelings of anger, hurt, etc. because the avoider
won’t fight back.
B. The Guilt Maker
Instead of saying straight out that he doesn’t want or approve of something, the guilt maker
tries to change his partner’s behaviour by making him feel responsible for causing pain. The
guilt maker’s favourite line is: “It’s OK, don’t worry about me…” accompanied by a big sigh.
C. The Subject Changer
Really a type of avoider, the subject changer escapes facing up to aggression by shifting the
conversation whenever it approaches an area of conflict. Because of his tactics, the subject
changer and his partner never have the chance to explore their problem and do something
D. The Mind Reader
Instead of allowing another to honestly express feelings, the mind reader goes into
character analysis, explaining what the other person really means or what’s wrong with the
other person. By behaving this way the mind reader refuses to handle his own feelings and
leaves no room for the other person to express himself.
4 Corporate Legends 2013, Paul Nyamuda
E. The Withholder
Instead of expressing his anger honestly and directly, the withholder typically punishes
his/her spouse by keeping back something – courtesy, affection, good cooking, humour, sex.
As you can imagine, this is likely to build up even greater resentments in the relationship.
F. The Trapper
The trapper plays an especially dirty trick by setting up a desired behaviour for his partner,
and then when it’s met, attacking the very thing he requested. An example of this
technique is for the trapper to say: “Let’s be totally honest with each other,” and then when
the partner shares his feelings he finds himself attacked for having feelings that the trapper
doesn’t want to accept.
G. The Gunny sacker
This person doesn’t respond immediately when he’s angry. Instead, he puts his resentment
into his gunnysack, which after a while begins to bulge with large and small gripes. Then
when the sack is about to burst, the gunnysacker pours out all his pent-up aggressions on
the overwhelmed and unsuspecting victim.
H. The Trivial Tyranniser:
Instead of honestly sharing his resentments, the trivial tyranniser does things he knows will
get his partners goat: leaving dirty dishes in the sink, clipping his fingernails in bed, belching
out loud, turning up the television too loud, and so on.
I. The Joker
Because he’s afraid to face conflicts squarely, the joker kids around when his partner wants
to be serious, thus blocking the expression of important feelings.
J. The Beltliner
Everyone has a psychological “beltline”, and below it are subjects too sensitive to be
approached without damaging the relationship. Beltlines may have to do with physical
characteristics, intelligence, past behaviour or deeply ingrained personality traits a person is
trying to overcome. In an attempt to “get even” or hurt his partner the beltliner will use his
intimate knowledge to hit below the belt, where he knows it will hurt.
K. The Kitchen Sink Fighter
This person is so named because in an argument he brings up things that are totally off the
subject (“everything, but the kitchen sink”): the way his spouse behaved last New Year’s
Eve, the unmade bed – anything.
Taken from Weinstein, et al: Communication Skills 5 Corporate Legends 2013, Paul Nyamuda
What is Your Primary Conflict-Handling Style Adapted in part from M A Rahim, “A measure of Styles of handling Interpersonal Conflict” Academy of Management Journal, June 1983, pp 368-76. *Please circle the number that is closest to your response:
1 = rarely
5 = always
1. I argue my case with my co-workers to show the merits of my position.
1 2 3 4 5
2. I negotiate with my co-workers so that a compromise can be reached.
1 2 3 4 5
3. I try to satisfy the expectations of my co-workers.
1 2 3 4 5
4. I try to investigate an issue with my co-workers to find a solution acceptable to us.
1 2 3 4 5
5. I am firm in pursuing my side of the issue.
1 2 3 4 5
6. I try to avoid being “put on the spot” and try to keep my conflict with my workers to myself.
1 2 3 4 5
7. I hold on to my solution to a problem.
1 2 3 4 5
8. I use “give and take” so that a compromise can be made.
1 2 3 4 5
9. I exchange accurate information with my co-workers to solve a problem together.
1 2 3 4 5
10. I avoid open discussion of my differences with my co-workers.
1 2 3 4 5
11. I accommodate the wishes of my co-workers.
1 2 3 4 5
12. I try to bring all concerns out in the open so that the issues can be resolved in the best possible
1 2 3 4 5
1. I propose a middle ground for breaking deadlocks.
1 2 3 4 5
2. I go along with the suggestions of my co-workers.
1 2 3 4 5
3. I try to keep my disagreements with my co-workers to myself.
1 2 3 4 5
6 Corporate Legends 2013, Paul Nyamuda
Insert the score you got for each number and then add up the scores in each category.
Integrating Obliging Dominating Avoiding Compromising
Your Primary Conflict Handling Style is: ______________
(The category with the highest total)
Your Back Up Conflict-Handling Style is: _______________
(The category with the second highest total)
“Conflict Management: Dyadic Sharing” by Marc Robert in The 1979 Annual Handbook for Group Facilitators, edited by John E. Jones and J. William Pfeiffer. San Diego, CA: University Associates, 1979. Steven L. Phillips and Robin L. Elledge (1989) “The Team-building Source Book.” San Diego, 7 Corporate Legends 2013, Paul Nyamuda
BUILDING TRUST AND MANAGING RISK: A LOOK AT A FELONY MENTAL HEALTH COURT Carol Fisler, J.D. Center for Court Innovation Director, Mental Health Court Programs Fisler, C. (2005). Building trust and managing risk: A look at a felony mental health court. Psychology, Public Policy, and Law, 11, 587-604. This article may not exactly replicate the final version published in the APA journal. I