If you’re a reporter, you’ll eventually be called a pot-stirrer. Conflict is inherent in the definition of news, so I suppose it was accurate. But I’ve always found it ironic that my occupation for so long was based on something I tried to personally avoid. I really, really don’t like conflict. How much? I will illustrate shortly below.
However, let me begin by being explicit: Today’s column is promoting the latest Lead Up leadership development workshop presented by the ALL Alumni Association and The Ohio State University at Lima. “The 3 C’S: Communication, Conflict, & Change,” will feature Dr. Jeff King, director of the OSU Leadership Center. Jeff is really good at his job, and I hope you can join us. ALL alumni receive priority registration until April 24.
So, how deeply do I try to avoid conflict? When Jeff King last summer administered an assessment on how we approach conflict, I initially didn’t fill it out. It sat blank for a good long while. Thirty questions, each with an A answer and a B answer, and all I had to do was pick which one was more like me.
Here’s an example:
I am usually firm in pursuing my goals.
I try to do what is necessary to avoid useless tensions.
And I wasn’t going near any of it. But then just enough of the responsible Heather crept in (“I’m the executive director of the darn presenting agency! Get yourself together!” my brain signaled) and as fast as I could I picked, A, B, A, A, B. There are four conflict mode descriptors. My top two were tied for most dominant: compromising and avoiding. The third, not far behind: accommodating. Told you.
Each descriptor is tied to an action word. Compromising goes with sharing. OK, so far. Accommodating goes with smoothing. Uh-oh. Avoiding goes with withdrawing. Nail.In.The.Coffin.
Jeff asked for volunteers to share their scores and I did a really stupid thing. I shared. He came and sat down next to me, and I felt my neck and face flush. We did a little role playing, and other than feeling as if I could lose my box lunch at any moment, it went pretty well.
Jeff’s workshop left me with new tools in my toolbox. When I approach a situation with conflict, i now have ways to approach it and navigate the conversation. The whole thing still gives me the shakes, but I can manage it. I’m getting better.
“Communication and Conflict Management” is our afternoon session. In the morning, we tackle “Leading and Change: Strengthening Your Capacity to Lead Others Through Change.” We’ll discuss how you approach change, and how to communicate more effectively with people who don’t see things the same way.
These are both excellent signature workshops that you would otherwise have to attend in Columbus. Through a partnership with The Ohio State University at Lima, we’re bringing this opportunity to you. We’re at the Lima Campus June 8. You can find out more about the day, and get details about each workshop at http://www.allenlimaleadership.com/events.html. Scroll down to “Lead Up.”
As I’ve taken on a career change and am now engaged in leadership development, I’ve tried to practice what I preach, that we can get better, little by little, every day. If I can do it, you can too.