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If you are afraid of conflict, you are afraid to grow.

We humans are stubborn.  Even those of us who claim to “handle change well” or “love learning new things”.   At some point or another (or maybe all the time), we avoid things that challenge our view of the world.  Most often, this challenge comes in the form of conflict.

“If you are afraid of conflict, you are afraid to grow.”

Some wise person sent me this quote. I’m not at all certain who it’s attributed to, nor where my wise friend found it… But isn’t it so true?

The situations that we find ourselves avoiding are typically the ones we learn the most from, once we face the challenge.   Every difficult person, challenging goal, or stressful project teaches us something.  We learn something new about ourselves, or maybe we find a new strength to leverage in the workplace.  No matter what type of situation it may be,  if it challenges the way you view the world, I can guarantee you’ll discover something new if you have the guts to experience it.

~Kristin (with a little help from Mr. Anderson)KristinMeezHeadshot66x66

Categories: conflict, diversity, learning

Change How You Deal With Difficult People

Everyone has someone who “bugs” them. Learn how to better handle these type of people, and have fun while doing it:

All Things Workplace: Change How You Deal With Difficult People.

How to Navigate Cultural Differences

March 10, 2009 1 comment


By: Emily Stevens

When running a kickoff meeting, it’s important to get down to business immediately, right? And when you complete that project, isn’t it great to take the team out to a nice steakhouse, and maybe even (in better economic times) buy them a round of drinks?

Or is it?

In some cultures, jumping right into a meeting without taking the time to know something about one another is considered rude and counterproductive. And what you think is a reward (steak and a martini) might create an awkward moment for a team member who is vegetarian or who doesn’t drink, for religious or other reasons. Clearly, it’s important to be aware of the friction points which can arise in a diverse workplace. You may be traveling the globe, or may simply have people from various cultures and backgrounds to work with here at home. Either way, here are some key distinctions to consider:

Tradition versus change: Here in the U.S. we tend to assume that we should “embrace change”. However, in other cultures there may be less willingness to assume that all change is positive. Be willing to spend time justifying change, and know that customers’ or employees’ objections and fears will help you better identify risk areas and mitigate them. Your change initiative can benefit from listening to those who are concerned.

Relationships: Do you get to know people before working with them, or is working together the means to know one another? Different cultures have different views. A good rule of thumb is to always take a few minutes at the beginning of a meeting to introduce people and orient them to each other. Even an established team can have fun with a few icebreakers which help them learn new things about one another.

Time: Is a culture punctual or casual about time? We are mostly a punctual society. If you have an employee who is less than punctual, the issue may be more cultural than attitudinal, so be friendly and fair, but firm about the need to be at work on time. That said, many workplaces today have less emphasis on being punctual, and more emphasis on simply being available, such as by Blackberry. Define your expectations and communicate them clearly.

Formality: Cultures are very different in how they approach formality in a relationship. To be safe, always start formally and become more casual as you build a relationship. Be careful about names, how quickly you go from a formal last-name-only greeting to first names. Also, be sensitive to physical distance, eye contact, and whether a friendly touch on the arm or pat on the back would be welcome or not. And, in any culture, never pat a pregnant woman’s stomach. Just don’t. There are other ways to communicate your support, congratulations and good wishes.

Communications: You can communicate very directly, meaning you are candid even to the point of not considering your listener’s feelings. The advantage of direct communications is that they are efficient and leave no room for doubt. Indirect communications may be more focused on allowing the listener to save face but may be less clearly understood. The best practice is to structure your message carefully and deliver negative messages privately.
Rewards and Recognition: Give a lot of thought to the rewards you bring into the workplace. There’s nothing wrong with checking with people on their preferred rewards—and what they ask for may actually be easier and cheaper than what you were planning. Food, after-hours celebrations, and even public recognition may be less rewarding than you think.

One final thought: how are you setting up meetings, if you have participants across the globe? Consider the effect on those in other time zones, and balance how frequently you ask them to accommodate early or late calls. And, it’s always nice to ask about holidays when setting up a meeting schedule. You don’t have to know every holiday in every country or religion, but you can be respectful of holidays as an issue.

Diversity in your workplace can be a great source of innovation and learning for your organization. Respect is the key word: it’s what makes the difference between conflict and synergy.

Developing Global Leadership Abilities

January 14, 2009 Leave a comment

Did you know that that 70% of global business ventures worldwide fail due to mismanagement of cultural differences? While our company quickly grows and continues to expand into various countries and cultures, its vital that global leadership is developed throughout the organization.

Eileen Wibbeke, creator of the GeoLeadership Model, states that in addition to extraordinary business leadership skills, a leader now needs cultural intelligence.

Wibbeke explains, “Learning how to interact in other cultures takes effort beyond just learning another culture’s language. For the American business leader operating in another culture, interaction requires a deeper cultural understanding about how things are done.” Read more.

Mentors Don’t Come From a Mold

December 19, 2008 Leave a comment

What do you picture when you hear the word MENTOR? Perhaps someone older than you? Someone with more seniority? More knowledgeable in your field?

What about someone fresh out of college, full of creativity, fresh ideas, and exploring the latest in technology and innovation? What about a friend with a particular aptitude for building relationships and networking? Or a colleague known for a positive management style?

True mentors do not fit into any preconceived mold. They can be anyone who possesses a quality or skill that you would like to improve upon. They can be younger than you, much older, less experienced, more educated, or even working in a completely different field than your own.

Leaders are on a constant quest to improve upon themselves, and recognize that they can learn from a variety of individuals. Don’t be afraid to reach out and mentor someone with a different background from you, and don’t be surprised when you learn quite a bit from that person, as well.

Divide or Conquer — Book Brief from BNet

October 15, 2008 Leave a comment
How Teams Rise and Fall on the Strength of Their Relationships