Wednesday, March 26, 2014

The Professional Woman's Guide To Conflict Management

My new book, "The Professional Woman's Guide To Conflict Management" is  scheduled to be published and released this summer by Impackt Publishers

Here is an excerpt from the preface.....
In the "perfect" workplace everyone gets along.  There are no disputes regarding titles, compensation, schedules, assignments, or environmental conditions.  There are no personality conflicts and there is no sexual harassment.  Each worker takes full responsibility for his or her actions and never attempts to place blame on another person or an external influence.  Do you recognize this place?  No?  You are not alone.

For most professional women, the "perfect" workplace doesn’t exist.  Instead many of us find ourselves working harder and longer with fewer resources.  Isolated from the support of the traditional extended family, we routinely juggle home and work responsibilities.  No wonder  our offices and organizations often feel like conflict breeding grounds.

As a little girl you were likely told to play nice, share, be polite, and avoid unpleasantness.  Actually, even if no one said these things directly, this is the message that most Western cultures transmit to their female children.  Additionally, scientists have recently determined that there is an evolutionary “tend and befriend” survival behavior that females (human and some other animals) have adopted in addition to the physiological “fight-or-flight” response we share with men.  In light of this “tend and befriend” programming, it’s no surprise that many women see conflict as such a negative struggle.

Looking ahead, as women continue to expand their influence and participation in the workplace it seems clear that issues such as sexual harassment, discrimination, health hazards, the negative stereotyping of a parent’s role in the workplace, and the competing demands of job and family will continue to cause workplace conflicts.  Additionally, unresolved and mismanaged conflicts driven by bruised egos, uncontrolled emotions, and mean-spirited behaviors have the potential to negatively impact your bottom line and your professional reputation.

Conflict can indeed be destructive when individual agendas are fulfilled by discrediting the other party (who is now designated as “the enemy").  There is, however, some good news:  it is possible to avoid the destructive consequences of workplace conflict!  You can, in fact, decode and deescalate the conflicts that are simmering and erupting in your workplace.  This book was written to give you a how-to road map.

Ultimately, the knowledge you gain from reading this book will lead to an increased sense of comfort and conscious conflict  ownership regarding your workplace disputes.  (I define conscious conflict ownership  as the ability to look at your conflicts and clearly see how you created or co-created the situation, where you are, and where you could be.)  Ultimately, as you increase your conscious conflict ownership you will be able to convey a stronger sense of commitment to the people, projects, and organizations you are connected to.  Amazingly, when we are able to embrace and work through everyday conflicts, the end result is usually enhanced productivity and connections.  These are conflict’s true gifts.

Instead of using the terms “dispute resolution” or “conflict resolution,” the term “conflict management” is used here intentionally.  Many conflicts, especially those where the parties involved have an on-going relationship, cannot be solved or re-solved on a permanent basis.  At best, these conflicts can be managed.  In this instance “managed” doesn’t mean to control or govern, it means “to care for,” like you manage your investments or “to handle,” as in, “he managed while his wife was out-of-town.”

The role that women play in the workplace is continuing to evolve.  Likewise, the strategies that we use to manage our workplace conflicts will need on-going evaluation.  After spending the last twenty-five years studying conflict and relationships I am still often amazed by the complexities in our interactions.  I am delighted to be able to share my knowledge and  philosophy with you.

The first chapter of this book lays out a foundation of conflict knowledge.  The subsequent six chapters will help you get the most out of this theoretical understanding by providing you with how-to  techniques and strategies that you can put into everyday practice.