Jim Morrison column: Be prepared, positive dealing with conflict

6:29 PM, Nov. 17, 2013  |  Comments
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Last article we talked about scheduling a 20-minute meeting with a supervisor to discuss a conflict you feel you are having. Once the meeting is scheduled, the more prepared you are the better chance of getting a more positive response, not guaranteed but improved chance.

Here are some ideas for that preparation.

Write down the problem as you see it. You can also write down several other options as to what the problem is that you have considered but have eliminated and state why you eliminated them. Then state from your perspective what you feel is the problem.

You should write out as much as you can with the idea of leaving this with your supervisor when the meeting is done if he/she would like to keep it. This will avoid any future misunderstanding and make it easier for the supervisor to refer to a document rather than try to remember.

State the problem from the positive side as much as possible. What do I mean? Let's say your conflict involves lack of communication on a project from the supervisor. You may say something like, "You never tell me what is going on and I feel out of the loop. How can I do my job when I am in the dark? I need the information."

Or you might say something like, "I know how busy you are and that there are a lot of people involved in this project. Sometimes I think you unintentionally forget to include me on information or maybe assume that someone else is providing it to me. But I prefer to get it directly from you if at all possible so I am up to speed with everyone else and know I am getting everything I need to do the project correctly. Do you think that is appropriate or am I missing something?"

Some of you are now yelling, "What a panderer," or some more graphic name. I hope not, but if someone approached you, what perspective would you more likely to respond to?

This positive approach usually keeps the supervisor from feeling that he/she is now on the defensive and has to take an argumentative position as you have basically said they were not doing things right. The approach from a positive way allows the supervisor to acknowledge something as more of an oversight than something done wrong.

You have to be prepared for a response that is not what you were hoping for. What if the supervisor tells you that there was good reason to not give you information directly and why? You should feel ready to ask for more clarification and give some of the reasons you still feel it is important giving examples that may not have been considered.

Or you may hear that this was completely unintentional and that the supervisor can say that he/she had assumed that some other person would be informing you. See how you let them off the hook by not accusing them directly but addressing the problem from a need and result standpoint?

Or you may also hear that some checking needs to be done and someone would get back to you. If no time frame is given you can politely ask if any certain time line is anticipated so you can adjust accordingly.

And maybe best of all is the answer that is a question. "What would you think is the best way to solve this to make sure we get it right?" This tells me the supervisor and you feel the two of you are in this together and working toward the same goal. I hope here you are prepared to answer in detail enough to make sure everyone gets the message. You can offer to draft a memo for the supervisor to review that will address the problem as you want it solved and hope it remains unchanged.

What's your take on the Packers Family Night change?

Retrieving results.
Watching practice is fine.(Your vote)
579 votes
I'd rather watch a scrimmage.(Your vote)
862 votes
I don't want to pay to watch practice.(Your vote)
1025 votes
It doesn't matter to me.(Your vote)
1279 votes

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Football fans

If you've ever answered "Who has the ball?" with "It's halftime," you might recognize The Airhead. Check out the characters in our cartoon gallery of oddball fans.

Special Reports