What’s the purpose of conflict coaching? To resolve the conflict! But to do that, you need to be thrown-off balance. The status quo isn’t working for you; business as usual simply perpetuates the cycle of conflict you’re experiencing. You need to break out of that, and this is what a conflict coach can help you do. It is, and has to be, uncomfortable. But just how uncomfortable? Some coaches seem to model their practices on a Hollywood version of a drill sergeant, while others offer a more moderate approach. Which is the more effective style?
“Hey, Manager. I’m having a conflict with John and Sue. Can’t work it out. Let’s get a conflict coach in here.”
If you can say this openly and directly to your manager/supervisor, you’re lucky! Many people are reluctant to admit they cannot resolve a dispute that a situation has escalated past a manageable point or even that they have a conflict at all. You may have come to the conclusion that a conflict coach will help – but how do you ensure your manager comes to the same conclusion?
When you are asking for a conflict coach, you have to be able to phrase it in the right terms to the decision-maker(s). You have to make it sound like it’s for their benefit, which is certainly not a stretch in this case. What’s in it for them?
In a word, money. Conflict impacts the bottom line by:
Conflict in the workplace is a serious issue that can result in absenteeism, reduced productivity, high turnover, and lost revenue. Often employees don’t have the tools needed to effectively deal with conflict and many find it difficult to keep what could be minor, isolated incidents from becoming chronic or widespread.
“How do we fire someone and not have it come back to bite us?”
While businesses may couch this question in more delicate terms, that’s essentially what they’re asking: how can we get rid of this person? For labour and employment lawyers, this is a standard question, and it comes with some standard responses. As they say, when you’ve got a hammer in your hand, every problem is a nail. Could it benefit both you and your clients if you were able to throw a wrench into the mix?
As a professional, it’s nice to stumble upon someone in your field who really gets it, who is committed to and passionate about our work. Through LinkedIn, I was fortunate enough to connect with Cinnie Noble, a widely respected mediator, conflict coach, consultant, speaker, and author. She is also the creator of the Cinergy coaching model, which, in many ways, aligns with my philosophy of conflict resolution. The foundation of this model is to “provide individualized assistance for building conflict competence.” This is a skill that too often we are not taught or encouraged to procure.
I would never waste valuable work time on Facebook. LinkedIn, on the other hand, is dangerous. You can easily get wrapped up in discussions, completely work-related though they may be! One discussion question, posed by Cinnie Noble, conflict management coach and founder of Cinergy, was along the lines of: what if you have a client with whom you are meeting as a conflict coach and you learn early on that this person has no intention of resolving the conflict? In fact, this person intends to continue to fight until it gets him/her fired. What do you do?