Workplace difficulties

by Rod Smith

When difficulties arise in professional relationships there are prescreening questions I encourage people to take a few days to answer – preferably in writing – before they enter into what may be necessary conflict or confrontation. The exercise usually results in creative solutions rather than in reactive or polarizing positions:

Who immediately (person, team, or committee) is empowered to address the difficulties? Avoid going above anyone or short-circuiting avenues already in place. Going “to the top” is tiring for “the top” and leads to mistrust.

What is my role in the creation of the difficulties? Difficulties do not arise in a vacuum. What have I chosen to ignore that has contributed to the difficulties?

• Am I making something personal that is not personal at all either about another or myself? Am I able to distinguish between what is about me and what is not?

• What can I do to present possible solutions rather than point out problems? Blaming others is seldom helpful or accurate.

• Am I regarding myself as one who is empowered and trusted or as one who is a victim? The former are usually inspiring to work with while the latter drain the joy out of the most inspiring of jobs and workplaces.

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