Archives For Leadership

I think that as I have become older I have learned to channel my anger to grow and learn.

Anger in Conflict

In the past I might have repressed my anger and tried to make it go away by diminishing the importance of what was angering me. However as I have become older, I am learning to grow and look at what part of the incident might have been my fault. When I take time to think back on a scenario I am able to look at what I might have been able to do to prevent the event that led me to become angry.

For example, one of the ways that I channeled my anger in the work example I shared yesterday is to think, “What could I have done to defend myself better on the spot?” I realized that I should have said and done more that would have let her know in the middle of the confrontation that what she said needed to be changed. I channeled my anger as an opportunity to grow and learn about how to deal with conflict. I also channeled my energy from the anger to confront the woman about what was said. I experienced what a textbook describes: “Anger can be a wake-up call, a motivator, and an energizer—a source of empowerment (usually) for the person who feels it.”[1] Anger definitely served that purpose for me in this scenario. Confronting others is not easy and it takes courage so I used that anger as energy to confront my coworker.

The material from a course I took called, Conflict Transformation in Ministry, has been helpful to me in thinking about how I want to change how I deal with conflict. As Dr. Dunn shared in almost every lecture, “Dealing with conflict starts with me.”[2] I can definitely say that I now understand myself better in how I deal with anger and navigate conflict. I have noticed that when I encounter anger it is often mixed in with sadness as well. I am not sure why this happens, but it does.

For example, at the height of my anger with my coworker I began to cry. I think that the pain that comes with that sadness is also what drives me to fix the conflict and work through it. I realized this sadness might actually help me in conflict when I learned in our textbook that, “Sadness and depression may help in conflict resolution because the feelings are so unpleasant that we are moved to find new solutions to problems.”[3] The hurt and pain that I felt was plenty of drive for me to want to fix the problem. Two other lessons I have learned about my own anger in conflict are that it is ok to express myself in confrontation, and when I express my anger, it needs to be purposeful. Expressing anger just because you feel it does not mean the anger will go away. Our text teaches us, “Venting does nothing to help the conflict process . . . If you feel the need to vent, do it with a safe friend, a counselor, or a designated third party—not the conflict partner with whom you are attempting to work. Venting can feel wonderful for a while—but the price is usually too high to warrant the ‘Yes!’ feeling of telling the other person off.”[4] Thankfully based on my own prior growth, our class, and the text we have been reading, I now feel better equipped to deal with my own anger and conflict.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Dunn, Ph.D., Larry. “Understanding Conflict: Introduction, Orientation, Theology.” Lecture, Fresno Pacific University-North Center Campus, Fresno, CA, December 1, 2011.

Wilmot, William and Joyce Hocker. Interpersonal Conflict. 8th ed. New York: McGraw-Hill, 2011.


[1] William Wilmot and Joyce Hocker, Interpersonal Conflict, 8th ed. (New York: McGraw-Hill, 2011), 202.

[2] Larry Dunn, Ph.D., “Understanding Conflict: Introduction, Orientation, (lecture, Fresno Pacific University-North Center Campus, Fresno, CA, December 1, 2011).

[3] William Wilmot and Joyce Hocker, Interpersonal Conflict, 8th ed. (New York: McGraw-Hill, 2011), 204.

[4] Ibid., 208.

Anger has had a variety of parts in my life. As a young boy my mom says that I often became angry and fought with my classmates in elementary school.

Anger in Conflict
At that time I seemed to express my anger at others, but as I have grown older I slowly shifted my anger expressions less towards others and more towards myself or alone by myself.

One event that has had a deep impact on me and how I deal with conflict is when I was a freshman in high school and I was engaged in a fight that caused me to be suspended from school for five days. (You should have seen the other guy!) If I was more calm, self-confident, and intelligent I would have dealt with the situation differently. However, when a Junior classman who outweighed me by about 90 pounds decided to push me I fought back. As a result, I was suspended and rightfully blamed in the matter.

After that event I started to direct more of my anger inward. Instead of lashing out in anger at others I started to spill out my anger towards myself while alone. If I was angry with my cell phone not working I would throw it against the dash board of my truck. If I did not play a good round of golf I would cuss and throw my clubs. It has been over 10 years since my fight in high school when I first realized I had an anger problem.

Now, at the age of 26 I am known as the even keeled guy who is always calm and under control. I know myself, I know what angers me, and I know how to handle it.

I have seen anger displayed when my dad would become angry at someone or something. Often he would express his anger with his verbal words in front of me or in a public place. Another setting I saw anger in was when playing golf in high school and college. I saw many kids display anger in healthy and unhealthy ways. Some kids were always even keeled, and even if they were frustrated, they did not express their anger in harmful ways to themselves or the people they were playing with. Unfortunately I witnessed some of the kids expressing their anger in harmful ways by yelling cuss words, throwing their clubs, being mean to spectators, breaking their clubs, and being mean to competitors.

I have seen anger dealt with negatively and positively at work between co-workers. At our office there is a tendency for coworkers to express their anger to a coworker who is not involved in the incident.

For example, if Jessica is angry at Jeff, Jessica has a tendency to express her anger to Janelle. The constructive way to share anger is to talk with the person directly about it.

I believe a good way to deal with anger is when the two people gather together one-to-one with a closed door and express their anger. This allows those people to:

  1. know who is angry;
  2. know what the anger is about;
  3. keep others out of the conflict who do not need to know about it;
  4. find a resolution.

I have been involved in both of these ways of dealing with conflict and anger at work.

In fact, just recently I was involved in a conflict at work when a coworker cussed towards me regarding a personal character quality that I have. The event happened when the coworker (who is not my supervisor, does not work with me on any projects, and who has no authority over me) used a cuss word to describe my eating habits. She expressed it to me in front of our Human Resources Manager and other coworkers. I quickly said something to defend my eating habits, then walked to my desk. Even though I had defended myself about my eating habits, I did not address this person about the disrespectful way she talked to me. It was the end of the work day so I was not able to talk to her about it, but the more I thought about the incident, the angrier I became. I started to rehearse in my mind what I was going to say to her. I had two ways I could have dealt with this anger: 1) tell my coworkers, girlfriend, and boss about it to share with them what I went through; or 2) talk to my coworker directly about it to resolve the conflict and my anger. So, the next day at work before doing anything else I went into this woman’s office and asked if she had a few minutes to talk. And that is what we did: talk about it. I asked her to remember what she had said to me the day before, and then I shared how that made me feel. I shared with her that it was disrespectful to be talked to like that and I that was not going to allow that to happen. We talked through it for a while, she apologized a few times and, then all was good. Because I took the time to express with her one-to-one what had angered and hurt me we were able to come to peace together on it (that peace happened mostly because she apologized for what she said).

Reflecting back on that experience has led me to realize that anger is not always present on the surface. In dealing with the hurt feelings I had of my coworker, most of the time I was angry when thinking about what was said and how it made me feel. 

Question: How do you deal with anger in conflict?

There are several strengths that I have in conflict as an Analyzing/Preserving and Affiliating/Perfecting person.

  1. One strength is that I am willing to forego the expression of personal feelings to facilitate the forward movement of a project.[1] This means that I do my best to look at the success of our organization at United Way or a project first even if it means I need to bite my tongue and not speak my mind.
  2. Another strength is that I rarely confront others abruptly or harshly.[2] This does not mean I do not confront others, because I do. (Actually, I just confronted someone last Friday after they cussed towards me.) It simply means that I do not confront them without first thinking about what I want to say. When I do confront someone, I do it in a calm, controlled way without lots of emotion. This allows conversation to take place and for the other person in conflict to not feel attacked.

Like most things in life, the strengths that I have in conflict as an Analyzing/Preserving person can also become weaknesses if they become excessive. The main excess I experience is becoming overwhelmed by others’ emotions. When I get into emotional situations I often feel paralyzed not knowing what to say or do. Another excess I have is struggling with others’ pressure for me to speed up. Whether it is something I need to get done quickly at work, to make a quick decision, or someone pressuring me to play faster on the golf course, I struggle dealing with the pressure to speed up.

Thus far I have shared how I perceive myself in conflict, but how do others perceive me in conflict?

Others, I think, experience me as someone they can have constructive conflict with because I do not react to conflict abruptly or harshly (as I described earlier). This allows people to more easily engage in conflict because they know conflict with me is a safe place. They know they are not going to be attacked, torn down, or criticized. I also think some people might suspect they can overpower me verbally and emotionally because I need time to process information and think through what I want to say.  However, later in a conflict people will learn that I have standards and values that are non-negotiable. If the conflict touches on those, then the other person quickly learns I cannot be overpowered like they might have thought at first.

There definitely are some areas for growth and change that I can make in the way I have conflict.

  1. One of the goals for growth that I have is to respond more decisively and quickly to defend myself when someone criticizes me or makes a statement that I disagree with. Earlier I shared with you that I have a tendency to withdraw in conflict, especially when I am presented with information that is new to me. I think I can have more productive conflicts if I am more assertive to tell the person that I disagree with him (once I have listened and heard him out) in a strong and assertive way. Even if I need time to think through what they have shared, I need to clearly state that I need more time to think instead of giving them an impression that I agree with them.
  2. Another goal for growth and change in my conflict style is to no longer adopt the characteristic of the Accommodating/Harmonizing style which can “adjust to and absorb differences and difficulties.”[3] When in the heart of conflict I have a tendency to shrink back from my position. When talking I have a tendency to say, “It’s ok,” or “You are right,” as I hear what they say and how it differs from my own view. A goal for my own growth is to learn to take a firm stand for what I believe in and not back down.

Question: How do you think others perceive you in conflict?

BIBLIOGRAPHY
(for both blog posts)

Dunn, Ph.D., Larry. “Personal Styles of Conflict.” Lecture, Fresno Pacific University-North Center Campus, Fresno, CA, December 15, 2011.

Gilmore, Susan K. and Patrick Fraleigh. the Friendly Style Profile: a guide through calm and storm.Eugene, OR: Friendly Press, 2004.


[1] Susan Gilmore and Patrick Fraleigh, the Friendly Style Profile: a guide through calm and storm (Eugene, OR: Friendly Press, 2004), 22.

[2] Ibid., 22

[3] Ibid., 10

 

My personal style of responding to conflict seems to be primarily based in the Analyzing/Preserving and Affiliating/Perfecting categories according to the Friendly Style Profile (Gilmore & Fraleigh, 2004). Here are my scores:

  • Accommodating/Harmonizing – Calm at 22 and Storm at 25
  • Analyzing/Preserving – Calm at 28 and Storm at 27
  • Achieving/Directing – Calm at 24 and Storm at 21
  • Affiliating/Perfecting – Calm at 26 and Storm at 27

Conflict Among Others

Deducing which of these categories I fit into during conflict is difficult because I find a little bit of myself in all of them. As Dr Dunn stated, “The odds are that you will probably see a part of yourself in most of these qualities.”[1] I think my scores being evenly distributed is a relevant and true reflection on me. Who is involved in the conflict and where the conflict is at determine how I respond to the conflict. Since I am a calm and easy going person who is very relaxed it makes it hard for people to know how I might respond in a conflict situation. (At times, I am even surprised in how I respond.) Continue Reading…

Leaders have conflict. No matter how good a leader is, conflict is an issue that leaders must learn to deal with and navigate. And within conflict there are specific sources of power I would like to share with you and learn about.

Strength
Power, like anything else, can be abused if it is used too much. Since the sources of my power are more silent and not as obvious, I am not sure if I have “used” or “abused” my power very much. I think there have been a couple of times when the defining questions I asked were slightly manipulative.

At times, I allow my strength of listening and asking questions to direct the conversation in a way that gets the person I am in conflict with to agree with me. Or my questions might manipulate the person to agree with my point of view and say that I am right without me evening sharing my point of view or statement of what I believe is right. Even though I have only abused these sources of power a couple of times, it has been hurtful to me and the other person in conflict because it breaks down trust.

Power in American culture seems to be something that people admire when they think it is used for something that benefits them, and they view power as something bad when they feel power was used inappropriately over them. One book describes power in this way, “Humans have long craved control. They have understood the potential power that comes with working together. They have also used power for self-preservation and self-promoting.”[1] People in American culture seem to view power as telling someone else what to do with no option to do otherwise. Or they view power as when they tell someone that they are going to do something with no option for anyone else to do otherwise.

However, as I have shared, my sources of personal power are more subtle and silent than how the world often defines and looks at power. Based on my experience of using good listening, defining questions, building cooperation, and clearly stating what I want, I have good sources of power that are very effective.

Question: Do your sources of power help or hurt when you engage in conflict?

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Dunn, Ph.D., Larry. “The Dynamics of Conflict.” Lecture, Fresno Pacific University-North Center Campus, Fresno, CA, December 8, 2011.

Schrock-Shenk, Carolyn. Making Peace with Conflict: Practical Skills for Conflict Transformation. Edited by Carolyn Schrock-Shenk and Lawrence Ressler. Scottdale, PA: Herald Press, 1999.

Wilmot, William and Joyce Hocker. Interpersonal Conflict. 8th ed. New York: McGraw-Hill, 2011.


[1] Iris de Leon-Hartshorn, Making Peace with Conflict: Practical Skills for Conflict Transformation, ed. Carolyn Schrock-Shenk and Lawrence Ressler, Scottdale, PA: Herald Press, 1999), 132.

Leaders have conflict. No matter how good a leader is, conflict is an issue that leaders must learn to deal with and navigate. And within conflict there are specific sources of power I would like to share with you and learn about over the next two days.

Strength
My sources of power in conflict are listening, asking defining questions, building cooperation, and clearly stating what I want. These sources of power are what you might expect from an introverted man because they are more subtle and silent than what most people have. Let me explain to you in more detail why I believe these are my sources of power.

I feel that I am good at listening, and that gives me power and influence with someone because when a person feels heard, he might be more open to hearing what I have to say. Another source of my power in conflict is that I am good at asking defining questions. After doing a good job of listening to someone, I think I am pretty good at asking follow up questions. These follow up questions help me correctly understand what the person is saying which helps them feel not just heard but also understood. This gives me power because someone who feels heard and understood is more likely to listen to me and allow me to influence them.

Another source of my power in conflict is building cooperation. When working with someone, I know that in order for us to come to a conclusion there needs to be some win/win situations. And that means I need to find a way to cooperate with the other person where we agree on something that we can both benefit from. This gives me power because when I help us cooperate together it communicates to the other person I do not want them to get bamboozled. It shows them that I care for them and want them to positively benefit from the conflict just like I hope to positively benefit from it.

My last source of power in conflict is that I feel that I am good at clearly stating what I want. We have learned about goals and how those change the way we navigate conflict. When I am able to share my goal for an issue, the focus on interests (or goals) allows individuals to seek shared solutions to common interests.[1] This gives me power because when I state my goal in a clear and non-threatening way, it allows the other person and I to work towards it.

These sources of power – listening well, asking defining questions, and attempting to build cooperation – have definitely defined and positively affected various relationships in my life.

I say this because when I listen to people, they feel heard and at a minimum they feel a little respected. When I ask them defining questions they feel understood. When I work with the other person to build cooperation, it allows us to work together and feel that we are positively trying to resolve the conflict. Also, if there has been hurt feelings or pain involved in the conflict (which there usually are), this process of listening, asking defining questions, and clearing stating my goals allows for those feelings to be shared. And if nothing else, sharing those feelings is going to help that person release some of his own anger and angst resulting from the conflict.

I would like to add to this that if people are allowed to be heard, feel understood, and encouraged to cooperate with me, it helps them to not feel victimized. Victimization is an issue to be navigated around during conflict because in class we learned “people in conflict (often both people) feel victimized.”[2] Even if the other person and I do not resolve the conflict, the sources of power that I use at least allow non-threatening conflict to happen, which positively helps people know that I listened, tried to resolve the conflict, and that I respect their opinion even if it is different than mine.

I have learned that conflict transformation is not always about completely resolving the conflict because, “Sometimes all we can do in conflicts is to keep the destruction from spiraling out of control, or negotiate an uneasy ‘balance of terror.’”[3] I think that because of my style of displaying power in conflict can be seen passive and non-confrontational, sometimes people might see me as weak. This sometimes leads people to think they can run over me with power. When people begin trying to overpower me it becomes difficult to have productive conflict because I have to be strong, powerful, and raise my voice often. Even if it is in front of other people, that assertiveness and direct confrontation style needs to be done sometimes to show others that I am not going to allow them to overpower and bully me.

Question: What are your sources of power in conflict?


[1] Lawrence E. Ressler, Making Peace with Conflict: Practical Skills for Conflict Transformation, ed. Carolyn Schrock-Shenk and Lawrence Ressler, Scottdale, PA: Herald Press, 1999), 104.

[2] Larry Dunn, Ph.D., “The Dynamics of Conflict” (lecture, Fresno Pacific University-North Center Campus, Fresno, CA, December 8, 2011).

[3] William Wilmot and Joyce Hocker, Interpersonal Conflict, 8th ed. (New York: McGraw-Hill, 2011), 103.

Leaders have conflict. No matter how good a leader is, conflict is an issue that leaders must learn to deal with and navigate. 

Conflict
There are several values and principles that have informed my beliefs and actions about conflict.

I believe that we all can get along no matter what we are doing. I have learned from reading that “we can’t always choose the conflicts that come into our lives, but we can choose our responses to those conflicts.”[1] I also agree with what one professor states that “conflict is never fully and finally realized.”[2] Conflict is something that comes up again and again, which means we need to keep working through it. I also believe that conflict needs to be addressed quickly.

Several months ago I overheard a statement my landlords made about some lights I had sitting in the room I rent from them. As soon as I heard them talking about my lights, I guessed they might be displeased with me storing the lights in the room I rent from them. Within ten minutes I walked outside to explain to my landlord why I had a bunch of four foot long florescent lights in a small room. This is evidence that I want to resolve conflict when I know it exists. And finally, I believe that conflict can cause long term pain, issues, and division. Too many times I have observed conflict that was not handled well which resulted in loved family members distancing themselves from each other and coworkers leaving their jobs specifically because of one person with whom they could not manage to resolve conflict.

I have three personal conflict related goals. The first goal I have is to be able to effectively function in conflicts with my supervisor in a productive way so we can both look towards the goals we have and discuss how to get there. (Skill Domain—Functioning.) At work I sometimes feel that my supervisors and I have a goal to raise funds for our community; however, we have different ideas and strategies of how we think we should get there. At times, my feelings resonate with Wilmot and Hocker who write, “Too much losing [with conflict in the workplace] will not build character; it builds frustration, aggression, or apathy.”[3] I think it is ok to lose a little bit in conflict at work, but when it happens several times a week and even several times on some days, it begins to discourage me. I believe this class will help me develop the communication skills useful for resolving and transforming conflict that I have on a regular basis at work.

The second goal I have is to increase my awareness of my conflict styles, tendencies, and strategies. (Affective Domain—Awareness.) “We need to learn to manage ourselves” and“dealing with conflict starts with me.”[4] Thus far, as part of the exercises we have been through I have increased my awareness of my own conflict management style. I have noticed that I have a tendency to want to work through conflict when it already exists, but I also have a tendency to shy away when I need to do or say something that will create conflict. I hope to become more aware of these and other tendencies I have so I can positively work through them to improve my ability to navigate and resolve conflict.

The third goal I have is to have a deep understanding of the different theories and methodologies within conflict. (Cognitive Domain—Translation/Application.) For example, what power imbalances are there? What is going on? What method is best applied here? Where is power playing a part? Having a deeper knowledge of what causes conflict and the skills that it takes to deal with it will help me to translate what we learn into application to the world and areas I serve in.

BIBLIOGRAPHY (for both blog posts)

Dunn, Ph.D., Larry. “Understanding Conflict: Introduction, Orientation, Theology.” Lecture, Fresno Pacific University-North Center Campus, Fresno, CA, December 1, 2011.

Schrock-Shenk, Carolyn. Making Peace with Conflict: Practical Skills for Conflict Transformation. Edited by Carolyn Schrock-Shenk and Lawrence Ressler. Scottdale, PA: Herald Press, 1999.

Wilmot, William and Joyce Hocker. Interpersonal Conflict. 8th ed. New York: McGraw-Hill, 2011.


[1] Carolyn Schrock-Shenk, Making Peace with Conflict: Practical Skills for Conflict Transformation, ed. Carolyn Schrock-Shenk and Lawrence Ressler, Scottdale, PA: Herald Press, 1999), 30.

[2] Larry Dunn, Ph.D., “Understanding Conflict: Introduction, Orientation, Theology” (lecture, Fresno Pacific University-North Center Campus, Fresno, CA, December 1, 2011).

[3] William Wilmot and Joyce Hocker, Interpersonal Conflict, 8th ed. (New York: McGraw-Hill, 2011), 128.

[4] Larry Dunn, Ph.D., “Understanding Conflict: Introduction, Orientation, Theology” (lecture, Fresno Pacific University-North Center Campus, Fresno, CA, December 1, 2011).

Leaders have conflict. No matter how good a leader is, conflict is an issue the leaders must learn to deal with and navigate. Becaus conflict is an important issue for leaders I am going to dedicate the next two weeks of blog posts to that topic.

Conflict
My experience with conflict is that I often want to resolve it once I know it has occurred, but I hesitate to do actions or say things that I know will cause conflict. I have had conflict in life, but often the conflict I experience is with a boss at work which means that I have to submit. I can push back (if the area and time are appropriate) and share what my thoughts are, but the ultimate decision-making authority is not mine. This has been tough because it affects how assertive I am on a regular basis which then affects my character and personality while at work. One book says that “conflicts at work present important challenges that affect your career development.”[1] This definitely has been the case with me as an employee at the United Way of Stanislaus County where I have learned to create conflict when necessary while also having to back down from conflict in order to show respect and support for my boss.

Growing up, I saw my mom in conflict with my dad on many occasions. However, observing the positive conflicts they worked through later in their marriage has helped me to realize that it is ok to work through conflict once it has already been created. I definitely feel my family life has oriented me into types of conflict now that I know “our family of origin socializes us into constructive or destructive ways of handling conflict….”[2]

As an introverted young man, I avoided conflict. I would hold my tongue, not speak my mind, and not take a physical action if it meant it might create conflict. And if I did anything that caused conflict, I would often apologize too quickly and too often. On the flip side, when I was in second and third grades, I often got into physical fights with other boys when we had a conflict. I do not remember much of this, but that might be another way I dealt with conflict as a young boy.

I believe that conflict is going to happen in anything you do. When you have people working together as a team towards a common goal, conflict is going to come up, especially as you mix in different age groups, sexes, philosophies, theologies, and leadership styles. When conflict does come up, I believe that violence should never be allowed or excused. Sometimes I think we try to excuse violence with the passion God has given us as if it stems from a supposedly good quality that we have. However, violence—whether it be is physical, verbal, or psychological—should not happen. If conflict does happen, we need to work on developing healthy habits to allow positive conflict resolution to happen.

In a Christian Ministry and Leadership class, my faith might (and should) play a role in the beliefs I have shared about conflict. My beliefs about conflict have slightly been shaped by faith within the church context by the positive and negative examples I have observed in churches. I have seen positive examples where church leaders and members knew they had a difference on an issue, and they consciously took time to talk about it, gather a mediator to assist, and even attend counseling together as a way to deal with church issues. Those have been some great examples of how the church positively works through conflict in a biblical and practical way.

However, I have also seen examples where church leaders develop conflict and stop talking with each other, publicly oppose each other, and even fire the other person. Being a somewhat new Christian I need to take some time to think about my faith and knowledge of the Bible in order to develop my beliefs from a biblical perspective. I know there are several ways conflict is handled both positively and negatively in the Bible, and maybe that is something I can and should dedicate more time to studying and thinking about. However, I do agree with our class discussion on Jesus’ instructions in Matthew 18 about how to deal with conflict.

Question: How do you deal with and navigate conflict as a leader?


[1] William Wilmot and Joyce Hocker, Interpersonal Conflict, 8th ed. (New York: McGraw-Hill, 2011), 4.

[2] Ibid, 2.

 

Today’s post is the final of 4 blog posts from the book of Philemon about how a leader extends his or her influence for the benefit of his or her follower.

A Leader Extends His Influence for the Benefit of His Follower

Photo Credit: chimothy27

Similar to Paul, I can utilize my influence among others based on what I have done for the community as a whole (serving the needs of families, similar to Paul serving the church). Continue Reading…

Today’s post is part 3 of 4 blog posts from the book of Philemon about how a leader extends his or her influence for the benefit of his or her follower.

Here you can read part 1 and part 2 to catch up on my thoughts about how a leader extends his influence for the benefit of his follower.

A Leader Extends His Influence for the Benefit of His Follower

Photo Credit: chimothy27

When reading and studying the text of Philemon, we can argue that Onesimus was useful to Paul and the church at that time, which happens to be the Hebrew meaning of his name.[1] Continue Reading…