(This was originally posted on December 14, 2020, but it’s still relevant.)
My goal is to keep you out of court and build your conflict resolution skills. So today, what I want to talk about is hostile work environments. It’s a pretty common conflict.
I think we can see that from what’s going on in the world and how it may very easily end up in your workplace.
Some of you are going back to work for the first time since the pandemic shut down.
Look, a lot of people have been dealing with the frustration and confusion, financial strain, and literal fear for their lives and the lives of their loved ones. And it’s normal that we’re going to have some reaction to that. So you want to proceed with caution.
I’m going to give you three tips that are based on neuroscience. We’re looking at things, like Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, that suggest when your survival needs are threatened, you’re not always thinking way up at the top of the hierarchy. You’re not operating at your highest capabilities.
How do I be the best part of myself?
What happens in the brain is the amygdala back here gets triggered. So again, you want to proceed with caution when you’re moving into discussing conflict with other people, and that’s including online.
Here are my three tips for you:
- Make the seven choices. They’re intended to get you grounded in what’s going on with you—before you engage with someone else. It’s being aware of your own biases, including implicit biases about where the coronavirus started, who’s bringing it in, who is wearing a mask or not wearing a mask, who you think might be infected, who is more dangerous than someone else, and who’s taking you into consideration. You want to get connected to all of that. Process it, and let it go.
- Pay close attention to Choice Number Seven (my favorite), which is to listen with your third ear. That’s your heart. Listen compassionately for things that you can heal. It’s especially important to do that now. Imagine how powerful it can be to shift to “How can I resolve these issues? How can I heal someone’s hurt instead of looking for how to judge them and make them wrong so that I feel better about what I’m doing?” We’re all confused dealing with a lot. It’s completely human to do so imperfectly. As Author Jon Acuff has reminded those of us in his community several times, this is our first global pandemic. We’re still learning.
- Define the conflict really succinctly when you’re ready to engage with another person. If you’re not at a point where you can do that in a simple framework, something like “I disagree with Jackie about X”, then you’re probably not ready yet to engage that other person. Just stop and go back to those Seven Choices again. Look at where you’re still struggling a little internally and ask for help. Regardless, stay healthy and mentally strong.
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Nance L. Schick, Esq., is an employment attorney, ethno-religious mediator, conflict resolution coach, and diversity trainer based in New York City. Her goal is to keep managers and small business owners out of court and build their conflict resolution skills–so everyone has a better work experience. She is creator of the Third Ear Conflict Resolution process, author of DIY Conflict Resolution, and an award-winning entrepreneur acknowledged by Super Lawyers (ADR, 2018, 2019 & 2020), the New York Economic Development Corporation/B-Labs (Finalist, Best for NYC 2015 & 2016), U.S. Chamber of Commerce (2015 Blue Ribbon Small Business), and Enterprising Women Magazine (Honorable Mention, 2014 Woman of the Year awards).