When one person gets better conflict skills, the whole organization can shift
When someone at a workplace, particularly in a leadership position, learns how to understand and manage conflict better, it doesn’t just change them for the better, but ripples out in a bigger way in the company or organization.
Conflict Management “Takeaways”
Last week was the final class in the first offering of the new conflict management professional development certificate program at Sonoma State University. For me, it was bitter sweet to say goodbye to the amazing students who participated in the program I had designed. But at the end of the evening, when I asked students to share their biggest “takeaways”, I was encouraged and heartened by their responses.
Some of them referenced topics that were particularly meaningful to them, such as understanding conflict, giving feedback, facilitating meetings, understanding the impact of gender and culture, understanding negotiation and mediation basics, letting go of grudges. Several said it was one of the richest and most meaningful classes they’d ever taken in their lives. And, most amazing of all, several of them said that the changes they had experienced by doing this work had rippled out into their workplace!
Skills Ripple Out
One student who leads a team, said her whole team had noticed the change in her and appreciated how she led them and dealt with problems in a better way. Another, a leader in her department, who had paid for the class herself, said her boss was so impressed with her increased ability to deal with difficult personalities and navigate conflict, that she offered to reimburse her for the class. Yet another of my students, a college professor, said her students had noticed and positively commented on how she managed her classes and gave feedback differently.
These comments touched my heart, and affirmed my goal to spread this work as widely as possible. We all know that persistent unresolved conflict has a toxic effect on any workplace. Over time, the negative impact widens and affects more people. How delightful and amazing it is to me that the opposite is true also! I got to hear concrete examples demonstrating that when one person in a corporation or organization learns these skills, it can have a healing and harmonious effect on their co-workers, direct reports, and even supervisors.