Focused Conflict

I’m a fan of conflict.  It’s good for us to disagree.  It leads to better overall decisions.  And for us to disagree, you have to open up about what you see and what needs fixing.

Where people go off track is here the perception that negative feedback is, in and of itself, good.  Some examples…

  • I disagree with the approach of your project, but I have no alternative to offer, so I will simply insist that your approach is wrong.
  • I want us to look at our work with a critical eye, except for my pet projects.  So I will deflect those questions with direct attacks on all the other project instead.
  • I have an issue with something unrelated to the topic of this meeting, but will hijack it as a platform for my own concerns because no one will come to my meetings.
  • I am not really interested in the topic of discussion, so I will spend my time objecting to the tragic lack of Mountain Dew on the refreshment table.

So how do you know if your feedback and concerns are worth voicing?

  • Are they directly related to the original topic of the meeting?
  • Are you offering an alternate solution, or at least a specific concern that can be addressed?
  • Are you saying something new (as opposed to repeating yourself or echoing the person across the table)?
  • If you don’t know the answer, do you at least have suggestions on resources that might help?

We all get off track sometimes.  It’s ok. Just learn to course correct.  And be willing to help your teammates get back on the rails, too.  They aren’t always as self aware as you are.

If you are done reading this, and you’ve already left a comment (you did leave a comment, right?), you should check out the latest Carnival of HR, hosted by our good friends at Pseudo HR.

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