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Managing Conflict

Beware the victim…and the rescuing hero

Beware the victim…and the rescuing hero

by Moyra Mackie on July 10, 2016

What happens when you experience conflict at home or at work?

If you’re directly involved, do you feel helpless and put upon; pretty certain that there’s nothing you can do?  Or do you feel angry; blaming the other side for everything that has happened?

Perhaps you’re slightly outside the direct conflict – a concerned friend, family member or manager.  Do you jump at the chance to help solve the problem?  This might mean taking sides or taking responsibility for coming up with a solution that seems right to you.

If any of these sound familiar, welcome to the Drama Triangle

Conflict is something that very few of us feel comfortable with.  Our emotions – whether we acknowledge them or not – are heightened. Dr Stephen Karpman,  a psychologist as well as an amateur actor, observed in his research that people in emotionally charged situations often feel they have only three positions open to them.

Karpman called the framework that emerged from his research the Drama Triangle, when it might well also be called the Conflict Triangle.

We choose an approach that feels instinctive but is learnt

Karpman’s research showed that when we feel under pressure we step into the triangle, rather as an actor steps onto the stage.  We play a role.

We may be entirely unaware it’s a role that we are choosing, because it’s a role that we feel strongly attached to.  It’s hard to recognised the choice we have because we’ve likely been responding to challenging situations in similar ways since we were very young.

The Victim

Victims believe they are not in charge of the speed or direction of their own choices.  They feel oppressed, helpless, hopeless, powerless and ashamed.  They seem unable to make decisions, solve problems or achieve insight. They are stuck.

Significantly, if Victims are not being persecuted, they will seek out a Persecutor and a  Rescuer who can save the day. This serves to preserve the Victims’ negative feelings and give them some kind of unconscious reward for staying stuck. read more…

Moyra Mackie

Moyra Mackie

Moyra Mackie helps leaders and teams to work with courage, compassion and creativity. She is an executive coach and consultant and the founder of Mackie Consulting.

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Workplace conflict – more please?

Workplace conflict – more please?

by Abigail Hunt on February 10, 2015

Conflict: the context

Stupefyingly difficult people cross and re-cross our path – the ridiculous boss, the toxic colleague, the impossible line report…

We also work with a much larger group of talented people who simply think, communicate and behave in a way that is very different to our own.

Workplace conflict and related tension are inevitable given the potent mix of our different personality types, backgrounds and strengths. Many of us suppress and so magnify a lot of our feelings because we:

  • fear conflict
  • don’t think it is acceptable to speak up
  • don’t trust ourselves or the other person to manage conflict well
  • feel trapped and powerless to change anything

How many difficult colleagues have you worked with?

More than 3? Less than 10? How many conversations did you have with these people about the issues, the resulting personal and commercial impact, your differences, new insights and possible solutions?

Few people relish workplace conflict

However, if we don’t tackle this important issue what is the impact on us as individuals, leaders and team members?

Are we also missing out on the competitive advantage and cultural benefits of encouraging differences, a more questioning approach and more constructive, if sometimes difficult, conversations? How many valuable new ideas and insights go un-shared in favour of mid-ground/status-quo thinking to avoid “rocking the boat”?
read more…

Abigail Hunt

Abigail Hunt

Abigail Hunt helps leaders to have courageous conversations. An Innovation Consultant and Executive Coach, she is an associate at Mackie Consulting and a member of Bridge Collaboration and Møller PSF Group.

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Conflict is fantastic. Discuss.

Conflict is fantastic. Discuss.

by Moyra Mackie on October 27, 2014

Conflict.  What comes to mind when you read that word?  How do you feel about conflict?

Almost every team I’ve ever worked with comes to me asking for help with both uncovering unvoiced conflict and strategies for dealing more effectively with conflict when it arises.

The way we deal with conflict – ignoring it, running away from it, confronting it – is a reflection of our early programming.

We bring our family of origin to work

The way we respond to power and group dynamics are echoes – sometimes very loud ones – of those we find in our family.  Indeed, our notion of leadership and what makes a team will also come from our earliest experiences of power and notions of “fitting in.”

Similarly with conflict.

We learn how to manage conflict by watching how those around us deal with it

Perhaps we had one parent who was quick to verbalise disagreement, who might be quick to anger, acting out strong convictions of being right?  Perhaps our other parent would be the oil on troubled water, quick to agree, eager to bring down the tension?  Or perhaps we had parents of the same type – two “shouters” or two avoiders?

In any of these cases, how many of us were able to witness on a regular basis resolution of difference?  Very often we might see our parents disagree – but what kind of process did they use to come back to a common understanding?

What we don’t understand controls us

Not understanding how to resolve conflict gives the very notion of conflict great power.

“In most organisations, managers and employees have learnt to sweep conflicts under the rug in hopes that they will go away. 

As a result, they have developed cultures that encourage people to NOT fully communicate what they really want and settle for partial solutions or no solutions at all.

Denying the existence of our conflicts does not make them disappear, but simply gives them greater covert power.” ~ “Resolving Conflicts at Work” Kenneth Cloke & Joan Goldsmith

I like to use the image of a bucket.  Every time we don’t speak openly – to either raise a point of disagreement or recognition – a drop falls into the bucket.  In no time at all, that bucket fills up and it’s only when it overflows, that the problem is acknowledged.
read more…

Moyra Mackie

Moyra Mackie

Moyra Mackie helps leaders and teams to work with courage, compassion and creativity. She is an executive coach and consultant and the founder of Mackie Consulting.

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Trust and teams: When is silence a virtue?

Trust and teams: When is silence a virtue?

by Moyra Mackie on March 8, 2014

I’ve been sitting in a circle for 3 ½ days.  And sometimes it has been a very quiet circle.

Which has led to me wondering, how silence – or not speaking up – contributes to group cooperation and outcomes.

And what it says about how much we really trust each other.  And trust ourselves.

Every day we sit in circles

Whether it is round the breakfast or dinner table, or round the boardroom table or polycom speaker.
read more…

Moyra Mackie

Moyra Mackie

Moyra Mackie helps leaders and teams to work with courage, compassion and creativity. She is an executive coach and consultant and the founder of Mackie Consulting.

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You’re in a meeting and

a) everyone agrees, so you all come to a decision quite quickly.  It’s really a no-brainer.

OR

b)  it seems as if everyone has a different view, the meeting drags on and eventually the boss has to make a decision.  He – or she – has the casting vote and in all likelihood votes the way he – or she – would have done before the meeting started.

Don’t you just love making decisions?

After all, isn’t that the point of meetings?  And which meeting process do you prefer?

I hope you said that neither was particularly appealing. Because I’ve got a better idea.

Try wearing a hat

read more…

Moyra Mackie

Moyra Mackie

Moyra Mackie helps leaders and teams to work with courage, compassion and creativity. She is an executive coach and consultant and the founder of Mackie Consulting.

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The Chimp, the Gorilla, the Dog and the Human

The Chimp, the Gorilla, the Dog and the Human

by Guest contributor Paul Jenkins on August 23, 2013

Recently I’ve been listening to the audiobook of The Chimp Paradox by Dr Steve Peters, and I’ve found it very interesting and useful (more of that later).

Professor Peters was the resident psychiatrist behind the unstoppable rise of Britain’s cyclists in recent years.

The book comes recommended by Sir Chris Hoy, Victoria Pendleton and even Ronnie O’Sullivan – and by Dave (actually now Sir David) Brailsford CBE, performance director of British cycling, general manager of Team Sky and a man who knows a thing or two about building winning teams.

The purpose of Steve Peters’ book is to help the rest of us to become happy, confident and more successful

He explains that there is a daily struggle that takes place inside us, and he offers a mind management model to help people understand how the mind works, control their emotions and manage themselves to achieve more success in their lives. read more…

Guest contributor Paul Jenkins

Paul Jenkins is a coach, speaker and trainer who helps good, experienced people who are struggling to find work to get the job they want and deserve.

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“What’s the difference between management and leadership?”

A variation of that question is keyed into Google more than 1.2 million times a month.

Do people want to know the difference or are they asking how to be better at what they are doing?

Leadership steps that managers must take to get better at what they do include:

So here’s a true story of one of the managers I worked with

Perhaps you could assess this manager against those leadership steps?
read more…

Moyra Mackie

Moyra Mackie

Moyra Mackie helps leaders and teams to work with courage, compassion and creativity. She is an executive coach and consultant and the founder of Mackie Consulting.

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When faced with an indifferent waiter and disappointing food, how easy do you find it to complain?

When someone at work has produced poor quality work, what do you do and say?  And more importantly, how do you feel?

These feedback moments are challenging for many of us because of the potential for confrontation and conflict.  We need to learn to respond while retaining control of our ancient fight or flight responses.

So let’s get acquainted with our Emotional Thermostat read more…

Moyra Mackie

Moyra Mackie

Moyra Mackie helps leaders and teams to work with courage, compassion and creativity. She is an executive coach and consultant and the founder of Mackie Consulting.

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