The Golden Ticket to Workplace Success

I’m involved with a number of intense conflicts—in my work life, in my civic engagements (vague enough?) and my non-work life (even more vague, must protect the innocent). Fortunately, I’m mostly a minor character in the conflicts which provides the opportunity to do a lot of thinking about patterns and themes. Conflict is no fun, but the silver lining is I’m learning lots about different types, common causes, and preventive measures.

This focus on conflict prompts thinking about how job seekers find work that pays a livable wage? And how do they stay employed over time? A higher education, a trade, specialized knowledge and skills all increase the odds of finding and keeping decent paying jobs.

Thanks for that Captain Obvious.

Less appreciated is the incredible value of in-depth knowledge of conflict and conflict resolution skills. If there is a “Golden Ticket” to work place success, this is it. Last week, I told my student teachers that if I was a principal interviewing them (or for that matter, a business owner hiring anyone for my business), I’d ask, “What’s your approach to conflict resolution?” I’d seek applicants who would help our school community have fewer conflicts and help resolve inevitable ones as skillfully and expeditiously as possible.

If interviewing you, I’d listen to how intelligently you talk about conflict, specifically assessing whether you’re knowledgable about the different types, common causes, and preventive measures. I’d also listen for references to active listening and perspective-taking, giving extra-credit if you mention one or both. I’d do all of this while studying your demeanor, specifically whether you’re poised and calm or harried and tense.

I might ask about a conflict you played a part in and what you learned from it. And how teams are better and possibly worse as a result of your presence. Be prepared for me to ask for a specific example or two.

The leaders in the conflicts that currently occupy my time, have failed to maintain positive working relationships with those they lead. In every instance, the end result has been anger, distrust, hurt feelings, and a decline in the team’s work.

The only constant in today’s especially fluid economy is interpersonal conflict. It is not rising or falling, it’s constant, like a heartbeat. And Artificial Intelligence will be no match for it.

Anxious about how to find or keep a job that pays a livable wage? Become an expert in conflict—what causes it; the different forms it takes; and most importantly, how to solve it. To do that, be more introspective than you’ve been to this point about your strengths and vulnerabilities as a human being in close relationship with others. Self understanding is a key ingredient to avoiding conflicts and thoughtfully solving them. The better you get at avoiding conflicts and thoughtfully solving them, the more valuable you’re going to be to your work teams. The more valuable you are to your work teams, the brighter your employment prospects.

Best of all, heightened self-understanding and specialized conflict resolution knowledge and skills are directly transferable to non-work, personal relationships; consequently, an especially fortuitous ripple effect is more harmonious personal relationships and a better quality of life more generally.

Blessed are the peacemakers.

2 thoughts on “The Golden Ticket to Workplace Success

  1. You are appropriately vague in this discussion but I wonder if you see conflict as something more than a problem to be solved or avoided. Are we ever really done with conflict or does it keep showing up in different shapes and sizes? When facing conflict I try to do two things simultaneously: (1) be clear about my own position and (2) stay connected with the other. Leaders who choose only one will soon be leaders in name only. The first is the “my-way-or-the-highway” leader and the second is the less principled, “let-me-lead-you-wherever-you-think-we-should-go” type leader who is really not taking people anywhere.

    As for the benefit this skill adds to my employability, I hope to let you know in the not too-distant future.

  2. It keeps showing up in different shapes and sizes. It’s illuminating in the sense that it accentuates the participants’ interpersonal strengths and weaknesses. In particular, everyone learns a lot more about the leader’s capacity to lead in one week of heightened conflict than in a typical month or three. Both of your points are excellent, especially the second because people in conflict almost always feel disconnected, not listened to, misunderstood. Of course I always begin with a position, but other people’s perspectives sometimes shift it over the back-and-forth required of active listening. I need the other’s best thinking to figure out the best way forward. I’m prolly a hippy dippy leader not taking anyone anywhere. :)

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