Managing emotional crises at work well. This book is a treasure chest of quick help in crisis situations at the workplace. It provides concrete, pragmatic solutions for all situations in which emotions have been running high - for differences of opinion with the boss as well as for conflicts at employee level. With exercises, practical tools and step-by-step instructions, readers learn how to quickly find a remedy for anger, injuries, insults, disrespect, etc. In this way, a goal-oriented approach to clarification can be found for every crisis.
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Knowing is not enough, you must also apply; to be willing is not enough, you must also do.Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
Me and my colleague(s): Sharing an office – between honeymoon and War of the Roses
1 “Know me”
2 The place you have never been to
3 Temporary withdrawal – in word and deed
4 Classify: The levels of escalation by Friedrich Glasl5
5 Take good care of this day
6 The photo in the drawer
7 Appreciation at the touch of a button
8 The “Ten Commandments of Serenity”
10 The four levels of listening
11 If we carry on as always
12 The GRIT method
13 Analysis: The “two souls in my breast“
14 Accepting: Dissonances and negative feelings
15 Reality check
16 Gut feeling versus the “cinema in your mind”
17 Values and worlds
18 Shaper or victim
19 Hold up your thoughts
20 Making conscious decisions
21 “Royal Jelly”
22 The SUNSHINE Diary
23 Put a record on
24 I don’t know how to put it
25 The four levels of humour
Me and the boss: And the chief spoke – about specifications and sensitivities
26 The label
27 Short meditation
28 Thoughts are free
29 In the boss’s “moccasins”
30 Four steps to get started with a constructive conflict discussion
31 Wish list: Leadership at eye level
32 Feedback in three steps
33 Ask questions
34 Self-reflection à la tango
35 What goes around, comes around?!
36 Instead of “business as usual”: Understanding business!
37 Language: Always nice and positive
38 Emotions? Pay attention!
39 On “strength paths”
40 Hear others out
41 Occasional “ego stroking”
42 Your voice makes for the atmosphere
43 The royal road
44 The atmosphere counts!
45 Small talk – a small talk with a great impact
46 Diplomacy is trumps!
47 Ensure stress relief
48 Your body has a say
49 Structure, structure, structure!
50 The argument tree
51 Don’t forget examples!
52 Precise whereabouts
53 Here’s to the written form!
Me and the team: Herd dynamics – leaders of the pack, meerkats and lemmings
54 Your hand on your diaphragm
55 What says more than a thousand words?
56 A “U” – not an “X”: The “U” process
57 Thank you for the music
58 We are all different
59 “Peer feedback”
60 How does the team clock tick?
61 Music meets egos
62 “Strike!” for the team
63 Take a shower: In strengths instead of with water
64 An instruction manual for ourselves
65 About change and its “rooms”
66 Cappuccino or beer?
67 The security zone
68 Four lists
69 Walk and talk
70 About children and dogs
71 Meetings: Start with quality
72 Sitting is the new smoking – stand-up meetings
73 Meetings: Never better than with rules
74 Meet but prepare
75 Meet with a flash: The flash feedback method63
77 Meet but follow up
78 Pit stop
79 The four phases meeting
80 Performance booster
81 Different glasses
82 A silent greeting
83 Resources marketplace
84 Instead of treasure hunting: Collect treasures
85 Goals rather than problems
86 A speedy update
87 Smartphone organizer
88 Take a snapshot
89 CCC – The criticism and communication chart
90 Idea slam
91 Like at the scene of a crime: The eye sees too
92 The “listening circle”
93 Picasso as a “cross-functional problem-solver”
94 Gossip and tittle-tattle at its best
95 Pro democracy: The distribution of tasks after opposition
96 Pauses are music too
Me and the customer: The customer is king – How many spikes does the crown have?
97 The empty chair
98 Yoga nose breathing
99 The story behind it
100 The list of annoyances
101 Glass! Handle with care!
102 The customer AVEA
103 Here’s to the “explain bear”
104 The zoo of annoyances
105 The four levels of service quality
106 Life goes on beyond the horizon
107 The white lie
Me and corporate culture: The “dream ship” is a rowing boat – I think I’m following the wrong course
108 About the purpose of the company
109 Four levers to change a corporate culture
110 In the event of conflict: A concept
111 Fresh cells: The hallmark of agile organizations
112 Tips for a constructive error culture
You don’t need to be a prophet to predict that we will have to deal with more conflicts in the coming decades. In fact, at all levels: with individuals, between people, in groups, in organizations and associations, in governments and international alliance systems. For, alongside the achievements in the natural and engineering sciences over the past two hundred years, we are now increasingly noticing the downside of this progress: the effects on the climate, the depletion of natural resources, intervention in complex nature processes causing irreparable damage, to name but a few important examples. These devastating consequences concern us all!
We are all therefore challenged to find fundamental and sustainable solutions to the various problems. However, this can only be achieved by working together, not by pursuing selfish or national interests. The most diverse interests, explanatory models and solution concepts will clash in the process. So we are heading for a period of time full of tension. In plain terms, this means that there will be more and more conflicts.
It is therefore of great personal concern to me to support people in solving their conflicts and, furthermore, to develop people’s ability to deal with conflict and to promote conflict resolution in organizations, wherever possible.
Although this book intentionally doesn’t focus on the aforementioned major conflicts of our time, it is nonetheless invaluable for it provides a treasure chest with many practical methods with the help of which people learn in an amazingly easy way to deal constructively with conflicts in their everyday life. It is by no means just a matter of a few simple tricks. No, when trying out the methods, it quickly becomes clear that even the best technique can only have a positive effect if it is supported by empathy and an attitude of respect for the human dignity of fellow human beings. And this attitude is the fruit of true self-awareness and consistent work on one’s own recognized strengths and weaknesses.
Whoever tries this will be encouraged by the experience of the first, perhaps initially only small, triumphs to face even more difficult conflicts and to make use of the latent opportunities for development within them. When people gradually become capable of dealing with conflict, they can avoid resorting to violence out of conviction because violence can’t really solve the problems in the long term but only creates new ones over and above. I hope that these insights, attitudes and skills will also gradually rub off on the influential people in industry and politics and have them act responsibly.
In this way, these small stones can create the mosaic of a new conflict culture.
Univ.Prof. Dr.Dr.h.c. Friedrich Glasl
Seekirchen near Salzburg
“Ms. Goj, do our bosses get a conflict management seminar with you as well?” I have been asked that question quite often over the past 15 years. Almost as often my answer to the question was no because in most cases my job in these seminars was to train the newly hired employees, and not their bosses, in communication and especially in dealing with conflicts.
That is how the idea for this book came about: to bring together everything that each individual can do or prompt, even at employee level (!), when there are tensions in the office, with the boss, in the team, with customers or with the company culture. In other words, a book that aims to promote personal responsibility and also competence in dealing with conflicts in your professional life.
I experience it as a fortunate circumstance the fact that we all work in a world in which – inspired by the IT sector – hierarchies are becoming increasingly flatter, so-called work hacks and agile methods are gaining ground, which make our cooperation more flexible, more modern and more customer-focused. Because this development boosts personal responsibility and broadens scope, at employee level as well, and thus supports the core statement of this book. Gone are the days when it was all about waiting for a “top-down” decision with the right “wind direction” to come at some point. With all the current demands in the professional environment, any incentive that aims to enhance quality and performance should, in my opinion, be welcome today – with all the challenges that in particular flatter hierarchies and the related “letting go” entail, for managers too. Much is changing and needs room for reflection, exchange and reorientation with regard to identity and one’s own self-conception.
When compiling the “tools” I benefited from my twelve years of professional experience as a therapist as well as from the fifteen years as a freelance coach in a national and international corporate context. Therefore, both meditative approaches and tools for reflection, prevention and simple action have their place in this book, separately and together.
Leafing through this book instead of reading it in one go is explicitly desired as is the creative use, exchange and combining of the tools from the individual chapters. Of course, there are no limits to your imagination!
The main thing is: You as readers benefit and feel encouraged to actually try out one or the other of the tools. As a result, you are likely to develop personally and professionally and in conflict situations you abandon the victim role and become more actively involved – a significant difference.
Bonn, June 2018
It can be wonderful when you look forward to going into the office every morning. When the cooperation between you and the person or people you share the office with is simply harmonious. When you can “stand” each other, no matter how many of you there are, and can therefore easily manage such issues as the supply of fresh air at any time of the year.
In many cases things are different in the offices here in Germany: you knew from the very first meeting that it wouldn’t be easy with that colleague, that “the chemistry isn’t right” between you and that you would have a hard time ever taking to each other and “getting on the same wavelength”. As a result, after a few more or less half-hearted attempts, you only talk to each other when it is absolutely necessary. The boss has to be consulted for the airing arrangements and you can only really take a deep breath after work.
Sometimes nobody knows exactly how your first impressions came about! But you as affected parties leave the situation as it is because you are unsure or helpless as to how it could be improved. Thus the same communication and behaviour patterns repeat themselves again and again. The images and impressions that you have of the other become firmly established until nobody tidies up or questions the “drawer” in which the colleague has landed with you in the meantime – and you with him.
A reflection topic, which in such constellations can very often lead to the first “aha” moments and which has been around for quite some years already, will be explained here in advance: Projection1 or transference2 – both terms from psychology or psychoanalysis and thus from good old Sigmund Freud.
Projection describes the all too human process of attributing to other people unpleasant characteristics that we unconsciously (!) don’t want to acknowledge about ourselves.
If, for example, your colleague gets on your nerves because he never gets to the point: just see if this by any chance could also be one of your human weaknesses.
There are even more dynamics involved with transference: Here, for example, it could be that the “difficult colleague” unconsciously reminds you of your difficult older brother who always “teased” you. And, hey presto, the colleague has a “bad deal” with you to begin with.
It can help if you always make it very clear to yourself: Your colleague isn’t your brother. So he deserves the chance for you in the course of time to discover completely different, completely new traits and behaviour that have nothing at all to do with your brother. Maybe your colleague and you will even become really good friends?! There is a chance of that!
And now: Have fun trying out the “colleagues’ tools” in this chapter!
This first tool is for reflection only and has purposely been placed at the very beginning of this book because it is of such great importance.
The author, Peter Fischer, describes it as “knowledge about oneself” for top managers or those who are about to become top managers. I consider the competence of knowing yourself with your strengths and weaknesses as well as possible to be a key aptitude for everyone who wants to succeed and develop professionally.
After all, we all have to deal professionally with other people, colleagues, bosses, teams and customers. We communicate with all of them, with many of them there will be friction, at least from time to time. So it helps a lot if, for example, you know whether the accusation “you never really listen” actually has something to do with you or if it more probably arises from your colleague’s stress situation.
So: The know me, the self-reflecting never stops, you should always be willing to carry this out again and again even if it is sometimes tiresome or inconvenient. It is important to keep focusing on your own personality with its virtues and drawbacks. I am as convinced as Peter Fischer: This is the basis for success in your job – today and tomorrow.
I can acquire know “how” in terms of methods and skills and know “what” in terms of expertise all my life but know “me” requires a decision time and time again.
When it got to the point again where you could have “hit the roof” because of your “dear colleague”4, then there is one thing you need first and foremost: Distance! And that in a very practical and real way!
The best way to do this is to go to a place in the company that you have never been to before where you can be alone for a few minutes, even if it happens to be the cleaner’s room, the server room or the archive – it doesn’t matter! Because you won’t stay in this place for hours …
Take time here to take a deep breath and mumble the answers to the following questions, preferably in a low voice:
What things do I see here?
At eye level but also down on the floor or up towards the ceiling? Describe them!
What sounds do I hear?
Perhaps close your eyes: And what if it is a fly that has got lost here…
What do I smell?
Detergents or disinfectant?
What do I taste right now when I quickly lick my lips?
Maybe some leftover chewing gum or cough drops? Nothing at all? That is alright too because it is all about taking stock of what you perceive or feel at that moment!
What does it feel like here?
What am I touching? It could be a server cable, a heavy-duty shelf, rubber gloves…
What matters here is that your whole self is occupied with new perceptions via the five senses and this takes your mind off what just annoyed you about your colleague.
After a few minutes you go back to your workplace full of new impressions …
If a conversation with a colleague is “making big waves” or is about to escalate, you can counteract this, for example, by stating very clearly:
“I’m getting quite upset right now. Please leave me alone for a while with this topic, I will get back to you”. (This sentence of yours is considered your “word”).
Afterwards, you also abide by this, work quietly by yourself for a while or talk to him about other topics. (This action would be your first “deed”).
Behaving like this prevents further escalation but at the same time you aren’t postponing continuing the conversation “until the twelfth of never”. Moreover, you also protect yourself from any further comments from your colleague on this topic because you make it clear that you will get back to him and not vice versa.
It is important that you actually approach him in the foreseeable future and address the topic again. (This action is considered your second “deed”). In doing so, you prove that you are reliable and you earn “sympathy points” even if your colleague doesn’t tell you so explicitly.
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