In a recent Harvard Business Review article: How Powerful Low Status Jobs Lead to Conflict the authors point out that people are the source of conflict in the office. They go on to talk about how low status, high power people are often unhappy and dissatisfied which leads them to be less excited with their work and less helpful to their coworkers. They go on to say that one key to resolving this issue is by recognizing these low status, high power workers for the strengths and gifts they bring is a road to resolving the conflict within the work environment.
The research they point to supports the notion (which I support) that people just need to be recognized for what they bring in any situation. How can we fail to stop and smell the roses? That is, if we think of every individual as a potential rose in bloom, or rose about to bloom, we can’t help but take a moment to recognize this fact. Roses have thorns, but beyond those thorns is still something precious.
So, how can we stop and recognize someone? Here are a few tips.
Find at leaast one positive, constructive fact a person brings to your business: Everyone has some strength or key skill that can be highlighted. Think of at least one or two and stop to thank that person for it. I have found that appreciating the strengths people bring to the table opens up a world of possibilities. There is always some one thing, even for people I don’t get along with. The skill in this tactic is to be genuine. Make sure that what you are appreciating is real and sincere.
Make it a regular practice. If you are going to open the door to good relations at work and at home, make sure you recognize people on a regular basis. Pay attention to the small things people do that are positive strengths that move your organization (or community, or home life) forward. After all, the small things matter a great deal.
Find a way to truly value everyone.
That’s all fine and dandy, but what if the other person is impolite and downright nasty? Here is where recognition really counts. If you can take a step back and reflect back what they are saying, it may help pave a path to understanding. For example, if you say, “You sound angry (reflect the feeling they are expressing) when I asked for these orders to be placed. Is there something you would like to talk about?” Open the door for them to voice their frustrations. If they are frustrated, listen. Listen and reflect, don’t judge or get defensive. There may not be a real solution to their frustration, but listening and helping them think it through may change how both of you approach the issues next time.
Watching people resolve their own disputes in mediation has made me realize how important it is for each of us to listen to one another and to recognize that though we may not agree, every opinion is valued.