Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Conflict Coaching in Organizations

Organizational conflict coaching: Informal, independent, neutral conflict management and dispute resolution

“The Organizational Ombudsman is like a smoke-watcher, if we see signs of smoke we will investigate and, if there is a fire we will make recommendations on putting it out and preventing future fires in that area. No one expects fire, but if it does occur we need a trained eye to direct us to the source, quickly, expertly and safely”.
Dr David Miller. Organizational Ombudsman, The Global Fund. Geneva.
Conflict Coaching in Organizations

Introduction to Conflict Coaching in Organizations

We all deserve a positive work environment, a place where we can enjoy our work for a job well done. When handled constructively, conflict is a normal and useful part of life. In fact, conflict can be good for business and can increase innovation. However, if left unresolved people may not feel their workplace is positive. It will lead to low morale and you may even notice that productivity is lost. In extreme cases, people may have health problems associated with conflict. This is especially true in the case of workplace bullying.
Many organisations have a formal conflict management system in place, encouraging staff to use the process if they get into workplace conflict. As with many formal processes, staff can be reluctant to engage due to fear of  retaliation, loss of relationships or other consequences.
The work of the Organizational Ombudsman as a conflict coach  is a complementary addition to an existing formal system. The informal nature of the conflict coach fosters conflict management and resolution of disputes quickly whilst reducing the cost of conflict both in dollar terms and human cost. Conflict coaching can help parties manage conflict escalation and resolve conflict.

What situations at work could I sort out with coaching?

  • My supervisor is grumpy with me all the time. I don’t understand why.
  • The foreman seems to have favourites and I’m not one of them.
  • The person I work with goes too slow and ignores my plea to work harder.
  •  I think I’m being treated differently than other people because I’m from another country.
  • I’m feeling bullied by the others. There is so much gossip where I work.

What does workplace conflict coaching offer?

  •  Strengthen your ability and confidence to take steps to resolve issues.
  • Assist with negotiations between people
  • Listen and help you develop options to address issues and assess the consequences of these options.
  • Provide information and clarification on company procedures and practices.
  •  Identify other avenues of help outside the workplace.
  •  Give the organization valuable insight into the issues facing staff so they can address systemic problems. (via anonymous reporting with consent)

What is a typical workplace coaching session?

In well-resourced organizations, the office of the Ombudsman is available for personal visits and contact by phone. For example, in New Zealand where the use of conflict coaching is new, enlightened organizations offer a limited service relaying on set days when the coach will be on site. In this situation, the coach offers to be available by phone on other days and will agree to meet with staff privately away from the workplace. They might also be available through video conference in email, such as within Online Dispute Resolution.

Conversations between coach and client are a one-to-one process so the client can increase competence and confidence to manage their interpersonal conflict and dispute. It is a future-oriented and voluntary process that focuses on the client’s conflict management goals. Conflict coaching is not counseling or therapy. The coach will not provide advice or act as your agent, representative or lawyer. Usually there will be several sessions, the first used to reach agreement about the boundaries of coaching and the client.

Primary role and responsibilities of the coach include:

a)      Help the client identify conflict management goals and steps required to reach them.
b)     Co-create a relationship that supports and facilitates the client’s efforts to reach their goals.
c)     Assist the client, manage or resolve a dispute or prevent one from escalating unnecessarily.
d)     Help the client strengthen their knowledge, skills and abilities to engage more effectively in conflict.
e)     Manage the coaching process through a step-by-step process where appropriate.

The client agrees to:

a)      Communicate honestly with the coach.
b)     Be willing to co-create the relationship and identify the best way to collaborate to ensure progress.
c)     Be open to the coach’s observation and input.
d)     Provide feedback to the coach on their experience of the coaching process and the working relationship.
e)     Be accountable for doing the work required to reach their goals.
f)      Be solely responsible for their decisions and actions regarding their goals.

The coach will maintain complete confidentiality about the content of the coaching sessions unless:

a)      Disclosure of the information is authorized by the client in writing.
b)     The client reveals intent to harm others or themselves.
c)     The information is required on an anonymous basis for educational or statistical purposes (no identifiable names and information are used).
d)     Required by applicable laws.

About the Author - Conflict Coaching in Organizations

Wayne Marriott.Conflict coach; Mediator and Conciliator. Wayne is based in New Zealand. He offers services face to face in New Zealand and by phone everywhere.

Friday, April 10, 2015

Coaching Services and Conflict Resolution

Coaching Services and Conflict Resolution 

“Coaching is not about teaching the caterpillar how to fly, it’s about creating an opening for it to see the possibility.” – Paul Lefebvre

The fields of coaching and conflict coaching are developing rapidly across the world. As part of this collaboration, we would like to tell our readers more about Coaching Services, what’s involved and why you should try it to make changes in your life and resolve conflict.

Mediate2go: Coaching Services and Conflict Resolution

What is coaching?

Coaching is a process where a professional coach works with an individual on a one-on-one basis, helping them work towards a goal of their choosing. Coaching can help someone see things about themselves in a new light, in addition to the people around them.[1] Coaching is challenging, and encourages inner reflection and future orientation. Instead of staying stuck in the past, a coach can help individuals move forward in their lives – however that might look like. Interestingly, coaching is often about realizing insights and skills that someone already possessed, but have just not yet honed in. Coaching is not therapy, as the parties do not delve into deep emotional and psychological problems, nor is it mediation, as only one party is involved.

What are some situations that I should seek coaching for?

  • Difficulty dealing with a challenging workplace situation as a manager or employee;
  • Difficulty asserting yourself with those around you;
  • Difficulty giving and receiving feedback to and from others;
  • Desire to move on and/or escape from a situation, such as a toxic workplace to find a new job;
  • Difficulty feeling motivated at work;
  • Feeling stuck in a relationship;
  • Desire to fix a relationship;
  • Desire to change careers;
  • Desire to set boundaries with negative family members or friends;
  • Desire to improve oneself in a particular area, such as building confidence;

What does coaching offer?

“The coaching process is both transformational and experimental—a voyage of personal and professional discovery and growth.[2]

Coaching can do the following:

  • Help someone become self-aware and build skills to meet challenges; [3]
  • Help someone become flexible and highly adaptable to manage difficult decisions; [4]
  • Help someone improve problem solving skills;
  • Help someone prepare for and effectively resolve conflicts; [5]
  • Help someone identify challenges or motivational issues to better achieve their goals;
  • Help someone enhance their leadership skills and improve their management style;[6]
  • Help someone achieve success with advice and feedback;

 How do coaching and conflict resolution work hand-in-hand?

Conflict often becomes unhealthy, negative and escalatory if parties do not know how to identify issues and resolve conflict effectively. Conflict escalation complicates interactions to make things much harder to address. One might not be able to identify the real problems in the situation, and might even contribute further to tensions by not addressing these concerns effectively.

Coaching can help individuals address issues that might lead to conflict escalation. It might even help people prevent the conflict altogether, or simply provide them with tools to better address it. 

Examples of coaching helping parties resolve conflict

  • A manager does not have sufficient training and comfort in giving feedback to employees. During a performance evaluation, the manager gives feedback in a way the leaves the employee feeling unappreciated or insulted. The employee files a complaint with the organization. Coaching might help the manager learn how to provide and listen to feedback so the employee feels motivated and understood, leading to improved performance;
  • An employee seems to complain about colleagues to their manager on a daily basis, leading to increased frustration for the manager. The manager is concerned about gossip in the workplace and increased tensions between team members. The individual becomes angry on a regular basis and disruptive in team meetings. Coaching might help the employee learn how to set appropriate boundaries in the workplace, and how to better adapt to those around him or her, which may improve their integration in the team. In other words, the coach might help them become a self-leader;
  • An employee seems to have lost motivation to do their job. They no longer try as hard to solve problems in their role, leading to the frustration of colleagues who need to shoulder the burden. A coach could help the employee identify challenges in completing their tasks, and work with them to align their personal goals to those of the organization to improve motivation and thus performance;
  • A high level executive believes that the leadership team isn’t doing enough to achieve organizational goals. She starts to express anger disrespectfully at meetings and begins micro-managing those around her. People around start discussing ways to remove them from the team. A coach could help the executive learn how to address this person, or work with them directly. In this situation, the coach would indirectly help prevent unnecessary conflict in the organization.

What is a typical coaching session?

Coaching is customizable, based on the needs of the client and style of the coach. This is the general process, although your coach can explain the process they will use.

  1. Client contacts the coach, who describes the process and discusses fees;
  2. If the client agrees, they meet and discuss the process further, and the coach helps the client set a goal, or several goals, based on their needs;
  3. Client and coach work together to help find ways of achieving that goal, which might be over one or multiple sessions over many days or weeks. Various techniques might be used, such as brainstorming, goal-setting, homework, visioning and role-playing;
  4. After the goal has been achieved, or the coach and/or client otherwise agree, the process is ended.

European Mentoring and Coaching Council

Monday, April 6, 2015

Cheating in Relationships - Advice on Adultery

Cheating in Relationships - Advice on Adultery

Adultery, infidelity, emotional adultery, affairs, cheaters, emotional infidelity or simply cheating in a relationship. In the words of Sam Smith, "I know I'm not the only one". What do you do about it? How do I resolve this conflict?

"Why do women cheat?" "Why do men cheat?"

Individually, our need for affirmation and attention, how we manage our boundaries, and how capable we are of being loyal to our partner are all relevant. Attention is powerful. We all want to feel wanted, and some people are more vulnerable than others to the advances of someone outside the marriage. Some individuals are better able to make decisions about healthy boundaries (and poor boundaries can lead to situations that are dangerous). And some people just aren't capable of having the empathy or loyalty needed to be true to a partner.

In the relationship, having unmet needs can be part of the picture. If we are lacking affection or connection, we can be more vulnerable to situations and personal urges.

Situations arise that are simply dangerous. Private conversations that seem harmless... working intimately with someone...having someone else make advances that we aren't prepared for...can all contribute to why an affair happened. I believe that the crazy "connected" world we live in has led to an increase in opportunities to create connections outside our relationships. (see my blog on how social media threatens marriages). 

I often meet people who either suspect their partner is cheating, or have discovered they are. Let's talk about how to manage those situations.

Signs of Infidelity  

Looking for emotional affair signs?  How to catch a cheater?

How Can I Tell? Be careful not to make assumptions. 

You can't know for certain, unless you have evidence. Most typically, affairs leave evidence; they do get discovered if you are paying attention. Gut instincts are often accurate, but there are also many reasons partners pull away or change.

Pay attention to your gut, and to your partner's behaviours, but only express what is REAL, and don't make accusations. So it's appropriate to say "I feel less connected to you lately", "It worries me that your phone is never around", "We're making love less and I don't know why", "You used to cuddle up against me at night and you've stopped."  Try to stick with what is really happening, and not make accusations based on fears alone. See where that goes. You might get important information about what they're experiencing or need. This can help you fix your relationship, without a fight going bad.

If there's been cheating in the past, it's okay to say "when you ___, I get scared that I'm not enough...that it will happen again".

What should I do if I my partner cheats?

Digging/snooping is both understandable and disrespectful.

If you truly believe your partner is cheating (if you've expressed concerns and in return get defensiveness, blame, or denial of a problem), then I wouldn't judge you if you did some digging, but in general...if you want to build trust with your partner... act in a trusting way.

I often have clients who rhyme off the fears they have and what supports their fears, then they say "Wait a minute...I truly don't believe this is happening." They want to be helped into a more trusting place. In this case, focus on the evidence that your partner is loyal, and stop snooping. It will feed your mistrust. In this case, don't spy on your spouse!

If you Discover an Affair.

If you discover your partner is cheating, clearly you both have some decisions to make about what you want. There are no rules; some people can't stay together after a small incident, and some couples can rebuild after a major breach of trust. Seeking a good therapist can help you sort out your reactions and needs, but no one can make this decision for you. 

If one person leaves before it's talked about, often the other person is left with unresolved emotions and unanswered questions. Again, a therapist can help you make sense of what's happened, even though you may not ever know the full truth. 

If you decide to leave, then read our blog about when to choose therapy and when to divorce, and then consult a mediator.

If you're staying together...know what you need and ask for it. 

Should I stay or Should I go? How will you move on?
  • Ask. Many people in your position need information about the affair. You might ask yourself, why do men cheat, or why do women cheat? It depends on the person. You deserve to know why, and if the relationship is to be repaired, it's vital for all your questions to be answered. Remember, don't stay in a destructive relationship.
  • Needs. You might need comfort and to be reminded that it's not your fault. It's easy to be angry, but expressing your vulnerable needs to someone who just hurt you isn't easy but it can help the healing process, if they can respond with care. Also, your partner isn't your only source of support. Spend time with people who love you. 
  • Express Respectfully. You certainly will need to express all kinds of emotions, and your partner can be expected to hear and tolerate those emotions if they're expressed safely. Belittling, verbal abuse or relentless punishing won't help you rebuild trust and will cement resentment. Don't let conflict escalate, as it will just make things more complicated.
  • Request Transparency. You will likely benefit from greater transparency. If you're not already, sharing email, phone and social media passwords is a strong gesture of openness that builds trust. 
  • Don't Avoid. Affairs that aren't addressed quickly create cavities of despair and mistrust in the life of a marriage. Burying it in the sand and not addressing it is dangerous. If you have trouble talking about it, seeing a qualified therapist can help start the conversation.

"I cheated on my husband." "I cheated on my wife."

You need to be honest with yourself and your partner. Maybe it was impulse, or it happened over a long period. You might feel a great deal of guilt. Seek the help of a trained therapist to know what to do next. 

Cheating in Relationships - Mediate to Go

About the Author – Cheating in Relationships - Advice on Adultery

Lynda Martens is the Wabisabi Therapist and a contributor to the Mediateto Go Blog. Please read her other contributions by searching on this page for Lynda Martens.

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