Managing Conflict with Assertiveness Stephanie Dean, LPC-MHSP, CEAP Assistant Manager Work/Life Connections EAP
The Truth about Conflict • Conflict is “ok” - natural and inevitable. • Conflict often makes people uncomfortable and defensive. • Unresolved conflict can do significant harm to relationships. • Conflict needs to be addressed. • There is no one “best” way to deal with every conflict. • We can limit opportunity for conflict escalation by engaging each other in an open, respectful way.
Strengthens relationships and teams Encourages open communication Deals with real issues Calms & puts focus on results Supports a respectful workplace Facilitates openness and permission for service recovery Damages relationships Results in defensiveness Wastes time & resources Focuses on blame Can be loud or hostile Results in employee and patient dissatisfaction Missed opportunities for improvement Constructive vs. Destructive Conflict
Conflict Management Styles • Accommodating • Avoiding • Competing • Compromising • Collaborating
So What’s Your Type?What Factors Affect Your Style? • Gender • Self-Concept • Expectations • Situation • Position (Power) • Practice • Life Experience • Communication Skills
Assertiveness Assertive behavior promotes equality in human relationships, enabling us to act in our own best interests, to stand up for ourselves without undue anxiety, to express honest feelings comfortably, to exercise personal rights without denying the rights of others. (Alberti, 2001)
It’s Not What You SayIt’s How You Say It • Eye contact • Body Posture • Physical Distance • Gestures • Facial Expressions • Voice tone, volume • Fluency • Listening • Thinking • Persistence • Content “I messages” • Timing • Target Audience
Reaching out Positively • A warm smile • A firm handshake • Use positive statements: • Thank you • I like what you did. • I can tell you worked hard on this project. • I’m glad to see you.
Reaching out Positively • Give and receive compliments • Apologize
Dealing with Anger The central point of effective anger expression should be to achieve some resolution to the problem that caused the anger. Some strategies to cope include: • You are responsible for your feelings • Anger and aggression are not the same thing • Get to know your “buttons.” • Develop and practice coping strategies: exercise, rest, relax, hobbies, etc. • Pick your battles
Assertiveness and anger If you decide to take action: • Verbally express concern • State your feelings directly • Stick to specifics of the present situation • Work toward resolution
What really happened? How much does it matter? How important is the relationship? Can I get what I want? Do I just want to express myself? What are your options? Can I get a positive outcome? Do I have the skills? Do I have the energy? Have I counted to ten? Would it be better to wait? What will happen if I do nothing? Will I be upset if you don’t? What are the risks? Benefits? Consequences? Deciding when to be assertive
What about work? • Be honest and avoid playing games • Listen (especially if you disagree) • Wait before responding angrily. • Express opinions, but know that others may not agree. • Accept responsibility for your mistakes • How would it feel to be in the other person’s shoes? • Timing
Assertiveness and Common Sense • Assertiveness is not about “getting your way.” • Be yourself • Persistent, not a pest • Practice, but never perfect • Take care of yourself
One Step at a Time • Observe your own behavior and emotions. • Set a realistic goal. • Pick a situation. • Observe an effective model. • Imagine yourself handling the situation.
Communicating Cooperation University of Colorado researchers have documented behaviors that generally elicit cooperation: • Avoid assumptions • Acknowledge the other party’s perceptions whenever possible • Acknowledge any responsibility you have • Indicating the other party “has a good point” (if they do) • Identify any areas of agreement • Make appropriate eye contact • Active Listening • “I” statements rather than “you” statements • Reflection
During times of higher stress, some people need additional resources. Medical Arts Building Suite 018 936-1327