Open Forum

  • 1.  Workplace Conflict

    Posted 29-07-2022 11:00 AM
    Workplace disputes are so often ignored or mishandled and the consequences can be costly in time, effort, emotion, staff turnover, legal fees, lost productivity and lowered trust.

    What influences make us so inadequate at dealing with conflict ?
    Is it our broader Australian Culture of avoidance or all-in, and no middle ground ?
    Is it the specific ways of the particular workplace you're in ?
    Are people lacking in mindfulness to handle issues appropriately ?

    Are we able to influence a workplace culture so that its approach to conflict evolves ?
    If so, could this be done in the interview stage of a candidate, questioning them on their interpersonal style in conflict , thereby setting expectations around "this is how we handle conflict here" ?
    Is it possible that it's a matter of aligning strategy - position accountability and recruiting to ensure everyone has a clear purpose ?

    I think there may be some merit in such an approach to align strategy - position accountability and recruiting and setting expectations in the recruitment stage.

    What questions would you ask people vis-a-vis conflict handling in an interview, to attempt to assess what they have done in the past to handle conflict and to set expectations in how to handle it in the new place of employment ?

    Peter SInger
    Bond National 
    0402 422 922     

    Peter Singer
    Negotiation Strategist & Advisor, Mediator, Facilitator, Photographer, Dog Walker
    Bond National Pty Ltd
    Caulfield North VIC
    0402 422 922

  • 2.  RE: Workplace Conflict

    Posted 04-08-2022 09:37 AM
    Hi Peter, 

    Thank you for your very thoughtful question about recruitment. It gave me pause for thought, and my reflection is that recruitment is a two way process. The employer is looking for someone to fit, in the same way as the interviewee is assessing the organisation for its culture to see if it aligns with their ideal. For both sides, asking good questions that give information without raising too many red flags can be a delicate process. But I feel that asking the questions is critical, because they go to the workplace culture and decision making structures. 

    For both parties, being out of alignment on key cultural questions is costly, and often painful. 

    My thought is that the only real option for either party is to ask open, authentic and curious questions about the matter. "I'm curious to understand how differences of opinion are handled within the leadership team in this organisation". Or "I'm curious to understand if you've been in leadership positions where good alignment wasn't happening between leaders - and how you decided to interact in that environment". In both cases, the parties need to be a vulnerable. If the other party isn't able to respond with vulnerability and honesty, it's provides further information. 

    For the employer - having a discussion about the matter with referees is a possibility, and for the interviewee, seeking out people (if possible) in the organisation they are talking to can help. 

    The hardest part though, is that despite those questions, one or other party may still be out of alignment after recruitment has occurred. At that point it's having the courage within the leadership group and the culture of the organisation to be open and find ways to seek alignment. The challenge of creating environments where it's safe for all to provide thoughts and feedback, no matter if different or conflicting with other views. 

    Thanks again Peter, 


    Gillian Manson
    Business Owner
    Your Way Consulting and Coaching
    Croydon VIC

  • 3.  RE: Workplace Conflict

    Posted 05-08-2022 07:18 AM
    Great questions Peter-immediate thoughts.In my view,conflict at work is a major problem as most of us are conflict avoidant--dont see it as normal,never learned/trained about managing emotions (bosses often say:leave your emotions at the door:lawyers often say/think--i am only interested in the facts) or about how to listen to understand, not to respond.I am now on a mission to see kids at school taught respectful conversation/ effective communication and conflict management skills.Forty years of dealing with workplace conflict has shown that while disputants need to learn these skills and too often end up in conflict as they lack them-it is very hard to teach old dogs new tricks,so must start when they are puppies.As to interview Qs ,employers should ask--who do you know is a good listener and why do you think this.Ditto vis bad listener.How you you rate yourself as a listener-and why maxk

    Max Kimber
    State Chambers
    Sydney NSW