Impracticable approaches to projects and tasks have certainly been the topic of many a gripe session between employees. The conversation often begins with one of them busting out with, “He’s never even done this job before,” and the other person responding with, “Really! What does he know?!” Having unrealistic expectations with your staff, boss, or coworkers can easily place you in the center of such a conflict.
If you’re experiencing push-back about your expectations, try a new approach. Learn more about what’s involved in a process so you can break down the steps and then discuss the specific points that are causing the disagreements rather than getting into a back-and-forth about the entire project. If you’re not comfortable starting from ground zero, let others tell you what is possible and negotiate from there.
If you feel a coworker or boss is asking you to do too much with too little, spend time planning (and practicing) how you’ll communicate your concerns without sounding like you’re whining or trying to get out of doing work. Providing solutions that include prioritizing are always a good thing. If you’re suggesting something should go to the compost pile, talk about both the downside and the upside for letting it go so you present yourself as seeing the big picture—not just advocating for your side. And, of course, if there’s a better, smarter way to accomplish a task, be sure to share your ideas as neutral as possible.
There’s an old saying in business that says you can have things fast, good, and affordable. Problem is, the best you can usually do is two out of three so decide which two are most important to you and go forward from there. Fast and affordable may not be good; and fast and good will probably cost you more than you’d like to pay. Expecting all three each and every time may be, well, unrealistic.
Vivian Scott is a Professional Certified Mediator and the author of Conflict Resolution at Work For Dummies. She spent many years in the competitive and often stress-filled world of high tech marketing where she realized resolving conflict within the confines of office politics was paramount to success. Through creative solutions to common conflicts she was able to bring various entities together, both internally and externally, for the betterment of projects and a productive working environment.
Prior to retiring from Microsoft in 1999 she developed the “America at Work” video series, a six-part program featuring small businesses employing technology in attention-grabbing ways. “America at Work” aired on the USA Network and received the Silver Screen Award from the International Film and Video Festival for outstanding creativity. Using discerning negotiation, mediation, and problem-solving skills, she successfully worked with others to co-create “How-to Guides”, “Seminar in a Box”, and even one of the first on-line Guerrilla Marketing books.
Since her retirement, Ms. Scott has gone on to earn a B.A. in Interdisciplinary Arts & Sciences with a concentration in American Studies from the University of Washington. She completed an extensive practicum with the Dispute Resolution Center of Snohomish & Island Counties where she has mediated numerous cases, helping parties resolve conflict in workplace, family, and other disputes. Her private mediation practice has handled cases ranging from assisting business partners in ending their relationship to creating a new working environment within a law firm. Ms. Scott is a member of the Washington Mediation Association and spends a majority of her time advocating embracing peace in a volatile world.
Her book, Conflict Resolution at Work For Dummies, can be found in bookstores, on www.amazon.com, www.dummies.com, or any number of on-line bookseller sites.