Understanding different communication styles – Informational vs Relationship focussed.

Wednesday, March 28th, 2012

Workplace conflict and misunderstanding can come through failure to comunicate well. For this reason we need to improve our understanding of different communication styles. One common difference is between Informational & Relationship focussed communication.

All communication between people has two aspects to it: the exchange of information and the development of a relationship. Some people are more focussed on the information while others are more focussed on the relationship. These preferences are partly influenced by culture and gender. Typically, the Western preference is more towards information, while Indigenous cultures are more relational. Similarly, men tend more towards information exchange while women are more relationship orientated. But across all cultures and genders, individual people will have different preferences on the spectrum.

This can lead to all kinds of problems. (more…)

Conflict analysis – four causes of conflict, part 4. Past pain

Tuesday, February 14th, 2012

Past pain

This is the last of a four-part series on conflict analysis looking at the four causes of conflict in the workplace. Part 1, different information, looked at the conflict when two or more parties have different information. Part 2, different interests, looked at the conflicts arising when each party wants something different or wants a different outcome. Part 3, different personalities, looked at the clash of different personalities and personal styles.

The fourth root of conflict is past pain. In many ways this is the most difficult one to deal with.  Probably all of us can recall a situation where a conflict simply appeared, as if from nowhere. Afterwards we scratch our heads and ask ‘what was that all about?’ (more…)

Listening – the best tool for resolving conflict in the workplace

Wednesday, February 1st, 2012

Listening ears (photo: http://www.flickr.com/photos/niclindh/1389750548/)

Have you ever had an experience of trying to communicate when someone is not listening to you. How did it make you feel? Hurt? Rejected? Frustrated? Angry?

What about when you have been listened to – the kind of listening when someone has given your full attention without interrupting, judging, telling you what you did wrong and what you should do?

Unfortunately, that kind of experience of listening is not too common for most of us. But when we get it, just the act of being listened to make us feel better – less angry, more in control and capable of sorting our own problems out. (more…)

Conflict analysis – four causes of conflict, part 1. Different information

Saturday, January 28th, 2012


When you are in the middle of a conflict, it can be hard to see a way out. Conflict analysis is a useful tool to understand the different causes of conflict in the workplace and navigate your way towards a resolution.

Conflicts can be caused by various things, and often the thing that sparks the conflict is not the real cause.

The American psychologist M Scott Peck came to realise that most psychological illness is overdetermined – by which he means that there is more than one cause. He found that addressing the apparent cause of the psychological distress that one of his patients was suffering rarely resulted in a “cure”. (more…)