How to manage conversations about conflict

Great talking with you. The last conversation was certainly stimulating and I'm sure that listeners, some of them had those aha moments just to pay better attention to the way we use and interpret words. Let's go deeper on that topic today and let's deal with with how we deal with if there's a best, how best to deal with with controversy and conflict.

 Because ideally, we want our words to make things better, not create wounds. So how can we. Fix and move toward that goal

Speaker 1 (00:02:54) - So I'm listening to you. George is using some of the techniques that we talked about in the previous podcast about how some people want to move away from a problem and some people want to move towards. And George was using both of those languages. So if you're interested in how to use that kind of language to engage people, we covered that in the last podcast. So you're talking about controversy and conflict and everyone has noticed people take definitive positions and then somebody argues with them and it escalates incredibly rapidly online to people calling each other's names. And then as you know, you're you're a Hitler or you're a Nazi. It ends up that way often enough. People can be really. Unsure of how to answer. You can see I was unsure of what to say there. And should they reply? Is there anything you can do that's helpful? But and those are good questions.

Speaker 1 (00:03:45) - You don't I don't think you always need to reply or you always should reply. But sometimes if you're involved in a group and you say nothing, it's really like you're condoning what's going on and you don't always have to get involved in the content of the issue. You can pull things back to a higher level. You can zoom out and think about, listen, if we want to have a productive or a more productive conversation, maybe it's easier to do it this way. Or if you want to avoid things escalating. My suggestion would be that we handle it in a particular way, and that's what I want to talk about. What is that particular way? So first of all, is it a good idea to intervene or not? Then realize if you don't intervene, whoever it is that's doing those things believes they have your tacit approval and everyone else that's in that particular group. Very recently I was talking to a friend who is involved in a online coaching group and someone made a very racist remark and I was talking to somebody else in that group.

Speaker 1 (00:04:50) - I'm not in that group. And he said I was really uncomfortable and I didn't say anything. Well, the third person in the conversation who's a person who is black of color, she says, I am so tired of these remarks. I'm having to be the only one who says anything and no one says anything else. And I thought, they don't say things because they're uncomfortable and they don't know how to talk. But the problem with not speaking up is it's approved. The last comment was approved. Nobody disagreed with it. And so I think it's important to know how to disagree. And of course, you don't always have to jump in on every fight. You got to pick your fights. But how to disagree? And the easiest thing is to zoom out and look at the conversation. And in this case, what was happening was clearly violating the values of that group. So someone could come in and say, listen, when you said this, it was, in my opinion, and stand behind your opinion.

Speaker 1 (00:05:50) - It's violating this and this values of this group. And in this group, we want to aim for this kind of thing and not do that kind of thing. If you come out, you go, you're a racist. That doesn't get anybody anywhere. And sure, there may be a person who's a racist. There may be a person who was thoughtless or wasn't thinking about the implications of what they were saying, somebody who didn't mean to exclude anybody. But these aggressions hurt people. And that's what I think a lot of people don't realize. If you say nothing, other people get hurt and you're left wondering, should I have said something like, what are my values? Like? Is it important for me to encourage people to communicate well, like or am I just going to stay out of this fight and then come whatever happens, I have no impact on? So there's a lot of philosophical questions as well as tactical and strategic questions to answer. I don't know. What do you think, George?

Speaker 2 (00:06:47) - Is that? Options, Language.

Speaker 2 (00:06:49) - What do you think?

Speaker 1 (00:06:50) - Yeah. Yeah, I was thinking about different ways of looking at this. Very good. You're just picking up my patterns now. Yeah. Okay.

Speaker 2 (00:06:57) - Yeah, I'm a I'm studying that at the feet of the great master. What do I think? You know, I'm. I'm. Well, I don't really know. I don't know. I know that when people say things, and if I'm part of a group, I expect everyone to show respect for the people. They're each every one of us. Both. Both with the things we say and the things we do. And whether or not it's a formal group, you know, like a coaching group or whether it's just an informal gathering, there are still some rules. Implied rules of engagement of, hey, where people here are individuals who each have value. And just because you don't like what someone says, it doesn't mean you label them or you make you make an inappropriate, racist, sexist comment. So I think.

Speaker 1 (00:07:50) - One of the people in a group where I was actually pointing out some good deeds of a particular government, somebody else then came in and, you know, told me all the reasons why I was long and then wrong and then called me a lefty shrill. So my response was, well, as a lefty, shrill. And then I responded back. So and now when this person talks to me, I jokingly refer to myself as a lefty, shrill. And that's one way of dealing with it. You don't have to take everything so seriously. Right? And and I notice he's more polite with me. Like I made my point, but in a funny way. Right.

Speaker 2 (00:08:30) - That's clever. That's clever. And more people probably don't think of doing that. And they should. So instead of defending and attacking, use the the words in a in a funny way and just show them that it doesn't offend you. You know, silly comment like that. Come on. And that's who I am. If that's who you want to paint me as.

Speaker 2 (00:08:50) - Okay, then I'll I'll play.

Speaker 1 (00:08:51) - That's okay for me to do it with me. But I don't think that's okay. If somebody made a sexist or racist remark or attacked someone else, I'm not going to then make a joke of it because I don't agree with those tactics. So there is that timing and that kind of thing. And in that case, I mean, you probably asking yourself the question like, Oh, well, what would you do then? And then I would say, hey, you know, let's have a conversation about this. Let's not attack people. Would you be okay to do that? Like let's and invite people to let's continue the conversation because people had interesting ideas. And if we're just attacking people, we're not actually exploring anything. Now, you don't have to invite them to continue the conversation. Maybe the conversation was really stupid and people were exposing extreme views. You can just make your point about how to talk about it, and if you do that consistently, people who will, who are participating in those forums on whatever forum it is, know that you're going to make that comment afterwards and they tend to self edit a bit more and become and it's not overnight like there's a process involved.

Speaker 1 (00:10:03) - They tend to, in my experience anyway, to become more factual and less personal attacking.

Speaker 2 (00:10:13) - What about what about conflict in the workplace?

Speaker 1 (00:10:18) - That's a big question.

Speaker 2 (00:10:20) - It is a big question. And the question let me be more specific. Let me drill down a little bit. How how do you when you work with organizations, you you work with organizations all around the world, you help them with their communication issues, everything from marketing to internal communication. When you work with an organization and they say, Shelly, can you come in? Our team is just not working Well, everybody hates everybody. They're fighting. Do you tell them? Well, maybe just fire them all?

Speaker 1 (00:10:53) - Yeah, you just stop it. Yeah. And that solves everything. No, no, no.

Speaker 2 (00:10:57) - Just put your foot down and tell them. Well, this is going to end right now.

Speaker 1 (00:11:01) - Yeah. Really? Yeah. So what often is going on is that the meta conversations are not happening. And you see this in families too.

Speaker 1 (00:11:12) - We don't talk about certain things. We feel tension and people are walking gritted teeth or they're, you know, they're civil and polite and then behind each other's backs or with a knife. And and a lot of that can be solved by earlier finding out what the disagreements are and making sure it's okay. So I want to talk first about prevention and then cure. I have a small team. My team is multicultural. They work from different countries around the world. Some of them are digital nomads. Some of them are not. So some of them you don't know where they are until they tell you. And some of them are on completely different time zones night and day. And for me, it's really important that we be effective, productive, and that we have fun. I'm only in this because it helps other people and it's fun and I want to be both productive and fun, have fun. And so one of the things we institute in our team and I've seen this in really great teams is permission to disagree.

Speaker 1 (00:12:15) - Permission to say, you know, I'm not very comfortable with this. And I actually frame it so that my team knows how to talk about something and look at people. If their face is going, you know, like you can say, I get the sense you're not comfortable with something. Can you tell us like be invitational and ask people to tell you more? Because usually in there somewhere, even if it's originally expressed as a negative, is a great suggestion about something. And this way I don't believe I have to know everything. Be in charge of everything. I'm counting on people to tell me when they're not comfortable with something because it usually puts us on a on a better path. So that's kind of prevention is to really encourage that meta talking. And I also give a lot of praise and feedback when it's due. People need to be encouraged and supported, particularly from their leadership.

Speaker 2 (00:13:11) - Now, interesting you used the phrase permission to disagree, and I associate that phrase with the military because maybe I've seen that in movie.

Speaker 1 (00:13:20) - Permission to disagree, sir? Yes.

Speaker 2 (00:13:23) - Which I always thought is a great phrase. If only more organizations would make that phrase a standard operating procedure for everyone to be able to to tap into. And that would make it less of an argument in a conflict and more of. Well, it's just a disagreeing of opinion.

Yeah. So wouldn't you rather have a conversation than a confrontation?