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Conflict Resolution Styles

It is said that conflicts can be either destructive or they can be constructive. The difference lies in how they are resolved! Every individual has their own preferred style of resolving conflicts. Also, different situations and scenarios have their own apt conflict resolution styles. We shall understand a few over here now.

To understand the conflict resolution styles, let us first know what conflicts are and how they are formed. A conflict is a deliberate and conscious intent to oppose another. Conflicts get created when two or more individuals oppose one another in a personal or professional or social situation. This happens when the individuals need to work together but may have different goals. This also happens when the both individuals want the same thing that is scarcely available. Every individual always aspires to maximize his/her gain in any situation, sometimes even without due consideration at the expense of another person involved in the same situation. This invariably leads to a struggle to wanting self to win and keeping others from achieving their win, thus resulting in a conflict.

When a conflict is resolved properly using the appropriate style required at that time, it provides a clarification and problem solving quality that increases involvement and enhances growth and strengthens relationships! Research establishes five popular conflict resolution techniques:

1. Withdrawal – when one retreats from a conflicting situation or a problem
This happens when an individual shows less value and importance for both their goal as well as their relationship with the other individual. The individual is then said to be behaving much like a turtle that withdraws into its shell to avoid any conflict. Sometimes when the conflict is not relevant to self or when the other individual is purposefully instigating an individual, it is better to behave like a turtle and avoid the conflict altogether.

2. Smoothing – when one tries to focus more on common areas of agreement or no conflict and attempts to avoid getting into areas of disagreement or conflict
This happens when an individual gives a lot more value to the relationship at hand than to one’s own goals at that time. The individual is then said to be behaving much like a teddy bear which would want to be accepted and liked by other people and do not like to damage relationships. This is the route to take up to avoid conflicts with close ones and live a life of harmony

3. Compromising –when one searches for a solution that appears to give a certain level of satisfaction to both parties, while ignoring certain other criteria of the conflict
This happens when an individual gives moderate importance to both goals and relationships. The individual is then said to behave as a fox which usually tend to give up part of their own goals in order to persuade others in a conflict to give up part of theirs. In these situations, both sides gain a middle ground between two extreme positions. Situations when a balance needs to be worked out for the common good a compromise is a good solution.

4. Forcing – when one attempts to push or force one’s view or stand of the situation onto the other thus creating a sense of winning while the other loses in the process
This happens when an individual gives a lot of importance to their goals and very little importance to their relationships. The individual is then said to be behaving as a shark that would try to overpower opponents by forcing them to accept their solutions to the conflict. When the goal is very important and critical for oneself, it is at times, vital to fight for one’s rights.

5. Confrontation – when one directly addresses the issue at hand by talking with the other party and discussing amicably to create a mutually agreeable and acceptable solution
This happens when one highly values both their goals as well as their relationships. The individual is then said to behave as an owl that views conflicts as problems to be resolved and seeks out a solution that helps both people involved in the conflict. When it is important to seek out solutions that satisfy everyone, it is important to work out a conflict by confrontation.

The above categorization is based on how much one values one’s goals and priorities vs. how much one values one’s relationships and associations. Just as each individual has their own preferred style, also each style is effective in certain situations.

Be aware of one’s and other’s conflict resolution styles! Resolve your conflicts…
You have the power!

Published in The Hans India on 18th Aug 2011


August 30, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | 1 Comment

The Wrong Handshakes

In today’s corporate as well as cultural scenarios, maintaining certain accepted etiquettes are important. Etiquette can be defined as the forms, manners and ceremonies established by convention as acceptable or required in social relations, in a profession or in official life. Etiquette gets formed right from the word go and the initial handshake to the sustenance of perceptions over time. Technically, a handshake is known as a short ritual in which two people grasp one of each other’s opposite hands, in most cases accompanied by a brief up and down movement of the grasped hands.

As per a display in the Pergamon Museum, Berlin and other places, right from the 5th century BC times of ancient Greece, shaking hands while meeting has been a tradition between two soldiers and represented a truce where neither side wielded a weapon. The handshake slowly moved into the western culture and into the area of corporate etiquette. It is important for one to know how to successfully wield the customary handshake in a corporate scenario. Thus it is important to also know how not to give the ‘wrong’ handshake!

A handshake can reflect and let the other person perceive a lot about your personality. There are so many wrong ways to give a handshake. Some of them are as follows:
The Dead Fish: Patricia Rossi, the author of ‘Everyday Etiquette Made Easy’, calls this “The worst handshake in the world,”. This is when the hand is floppy and flimsy and project insecurity and non-commitment.
The Politician: This is when one shakes with the right hand and cover the shaking hands with their left hand. According to author Matthew Rothenberg, this feels too personal and too early in the relationship.
The Wrestler: This is so vigorous a handshake that can almost rip the other person’s arm out. It may convey that one is too eager and pushy
The Queen or The Fingertip: This is when one extends just their fingertips to another person. It conveys the feeling that the individual does not want to touch the other person.
I’m stronger than you are: This is crushing the bones in the other person’s hand so much just like trying to wring all the juice from a lemon. It makes it look like one needs to prove themselves.
The Oww!: This depicts an overeager person who may catch the other person so much by surprise on the handshake, that it becomes awkward for the other person.
Oh ok, I’ll just pretend to care about meeting you: This handshake can be very limp and apathetic and very awkward for the other person, and gives the impression that one is disinterested
We’re now bonded together for eternity: This is when a handshake does not end and just feels like eternity. This happens when people are a little too happy to greet you or who are extremely nervous and forget to let go. You do a few hand pumps…and then some more…and some more…and finally, hopefully, your hand is let go!
Aha! Am sure you didn’t see that one coming: This happens when the individual does something different, mostly out of nervousness. For instance, this can be when one is putting the left hand out for a handshake when everyone usually uses their right hand. This can lead to fumbling and even embarrassing situations. In these scenarios, it is a good idea to follow the crowd and use the right hand.
A good proper hand shake is called a ‘winning handshake’. It consists of a firm but not bone crushing grip and lasts about 3 seconds while maintaining good eye contact. The person has to be approximately 3 feet away. The hand has to be angled towards the chest with thumb pointing upwards. The other person’s hand can be ‘pumped’ once or twice from the elbow and then released, even if the introduction of the person continues.

Learn to meet, greet, part, offer congratulations, express gratitude, or complete an agreement well. Master the ‘right’ handshake!
You have the power!

Published in ‘The Hans India’ on 11 Aug 2011

August 30, 2011 Posted by | RevathiOnline Learning, The Hans India Newspaper | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Performance Coaching – The STAR Way

From the era of Ramayana and the Mahabharata in the times of Rama, Krishna, and Drone, performance coaching is an age old tradition in India. In today’s modern world of Shiba Maggon and Gary Kistern still follows the very same principles of the yester years coaching.

In the corporate scenario today, coaching works wonders in helping individual performers and teams achieve excellent results by introspecting within and working together. This not only contributes to the entire persona of the individual, but also and helps organizations move towards sustainable growth.

Coaching as a practice is not about telling one what to do. It is more about understanding the situation by asking questions and aiding the individual to arrive at the right solutions.

Corporate executive coaching requires working with an individual on a particular goal or result area in their professional development. It is usually a creative and thought provoking process by which the coach enables the coachee to think and maximize his/her potential and performance in the goal or result area under consideration. The various goal of coaching can be in areas of career management, performance enhancement, managing personal, professional and organizational changes, enhancing problem solving and creativity, effective conflict resolution, amongst many others.

A trained professional uses many techniques and methods of coaching, one of them also being the STAR model i.e. (a) Situation (b) Task (c) Action and (d) Result model.

The STAR (Situation, Task, Action, Result) format, an avid interviewer’s powerful tool can also be used as a coaching technique that can be used by executive coaches to help individual and teams enhance performance and productivity in specific areas or situations.
The STAR model can be used when the coach needs to help the coachee to re-visit an experience, learn from the same, and implement in the future.

For example, when there are conflicts occurring in a team, or certain organizational changes like mergers etc, this model works effectively. This is construed by making the coach and the coachee/team to sit together, explore the various facets and avenues of the existing situation through a series of questions, thus gather all the relevant information and there after arrive at a most applicable and sustainable possible solution.

• Situation: Take an example of a situation that can either work as a positive situation or a challenge. Explain and elaborate the situation with all specific details of all the tasks and individuals involved in the situation. Example: the recent disagreement of the employee and their supervisor over a client presentation.

• Task: The various tasks that led to this situation and can lead away from the situation are explored. By asking the appropriate questions such as: Why has this situation occurred in the first place? What has the individual done so as to be in this circumstance? What learning can we take away from the present situation, for the future? What can be done to arrive at a solution in this present scenario? Various options of possible further steps are enlisted.

• Action: What did you do? The earlier actions are re-visited, examined, and evaluated. The coach helps the coachee to identify the aspects in self that created the current situation, understand why it happened, and analyze on what action can be taken to (a) overcome the challenge now, as well as (b) learn to avoid repeating similar scenarios in the future. The various alternative action plans are drawn up and evaluated.

• Results: How was the current situation the outcome of the individual’s past actions? How did the past actions work against the objective the individual had? Once the individual is aware and has eliminated these same aspects in the current possibilities of action, further exploration into the possible outcomes or results of the action to be taken are analyzed. What will be the outcome of the current set of actions? What can the individual achieve through these actions to meet his/her objectives. How can the individual implement the learning from this experience?

The important aspect for a coach to remember while using the STAR model is the ability to ask the right questions and wait patiently for the coachee to explore the situation for possible answers. As a coach, one must always note to remember Winston Churchill saying “Personally I’m always ready to learn, although I do not always like to be taught.” Helping one learn themselves from their experience is the core of any coaching process.

Follow the STAR process, and coach away!
You have the power!

Published in ‘The Hans India’ newspaper on 4th Aug 2011

August 5, 2011 Posted by | The Hans India Newspaper, Training and Learning | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment