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Workplace Conflict
The workplace environment is often a breeding-ground for conflict and misunderstanding.

 DILEMMA:
"Mark" was a respected, competent department manager.  Following a recent corporate restructuring, he now reported to a new director.  This new leader constantly criticized Mark’s work, overloaded him with projects that were not this department’s responsibility, undermined his authority over those he managed, and issued unreasonable deadlines.  When Mark decided, as a last resort, to seek out a coach, he was “a wreck,” and ready to quit his job, unless there was some other way around it.

HOW THE COACH WORKS:
Initially, Mark needed a sounding board for his emotions and frustration.  Given the charged and changed work environment, I could certainly understand his upset.  So offering empathy was a first priority to start building a relationship of trust.  There were two things that were important for Mark to understand.  That his view--his thoughts-- on the situation created his emotions, and his emotions created his reactions and behavior.  So he needed to come to a place of realization that his situation was not totally created by his boss, but that he was part of it too, being that he had strong reactions.  It is difficult for most of us to accept change.  And with some changes there are feelings of loss that we don’t identify or come to grips with.  “Things were great before this reorganization, and now things will never be the same,” stated Mark.  He’s right...things will never be the same. That is a truth, and a reality. We needed to address feelings of sadness and anger (at the old regime for allowing this to occur; some betrayal, here), so that we could move forward.  Interestingly, Mark realized his anger wasn’t entirely towards his boss.  We then agreed that Mark had two choices.  He did have choices.  He could resign, or he could choose to find a way to adapt to the departmental changes, that would not demean him, or compromise his professionalism, and that would comply with his comfort level.  Knowing he had choices diminished his feeling of “being the victim.”

Secondly, we needed to work on the difficult concept of “don’t take this personally.”   His boss certainly had a management style that was neither in accord with nor sensitive to Mark’s needs.  We needed to identify the boss’s style, motivation, personality, and where his director’s positioning fit in the pecking order with the organization's power players.  These would be reasons—not excuses —behind the bosses drive.  We worked on anticipating the director’s responses, so that Mark felt more in control—not off guard. We worked on assertiveness and honest conversations with the boss on power, authority, competency, and leveraging his strengths, differently.  We worked on techniques to manage Mark’s stress, so that he could feel in control under pressure, and maintain calm.

Coaching is a partnership- type relationship.  Mark felt supported by someone who, not only has a business background, but who could deliver a balance of directness with understanding.

 A coach can help you adapt to workplace changes, and conflict, even those that initially look like a losing battle. A coach can teach you skills to stay calm and productive, when you’re under pressure. You can develop the self control it takes to stand up for yourself, and resolve conflicts positively.

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