Friday, 27 August 2021

Constructive dominance

 Constructive dominance 

(Emotional Management for Personal & Professional Growth Series)

Two approaches will work when we have a conflict with the direct reportees or junior colleagues. One is the compassionate approach wherein we take the parent-child relationship, create awareness / provide perspectives, make them understand our views, and finally make the things done.As discussed last week, this approach has some limitations. Another approach is constructive dominance approach .
As mentioned, in any differences, we are looking at relative power, relationship and goal.

In the constructive dominance approach, we use the power to get things done when the following situation arises.
  • Either prolonged conflicts affect the organizational goal or in situations where direct reportees or junior colleagues are hostile or unmotivated to comply with your reasonable demands.
  • The other person is clearly against you even after applying the compassionate approach.
  • You need to maintain the relationship to reach your or functional goal.
For example,

 look at the incidence in one of the client organizations. There were some quality issues in the product, and the quality head insisted on stopping the machines for conducting experiments. The production in charge was against the experiment as it would affect  his delivery performance.

This conflict was continuing for some time. Whenever the business head used to review quality performance, both functional heads pointed at each other and argued from their standpoint. The conversations turned into personal ego issues than organizational problems.

At some point in time, the business head intervened by making a mandate to fix the timeline and made both people accountable to solve the problem. The conflict was resolved.

Here the business head did not apply compassionate conflict management; instead, he used his power to dominate for solving the differences among the people. That approach is required when the direct reportees are unreasonable and beyond any explanation.

Sometimes, we need to use the power to dictate what we want to achieve when we think that giving reasoning/education will never change another person's behavior. That approach is expected from the person who manages the people.

The drawback in this approach is, sometimes, work will get done as we want, but there is no place for innovation or the free flow of thinking by anyone. You became the owner of the decision and the outcome.
Some people  may get offended as they perceive it as a win-lose deal

However, you must apply this approach when the goal is higher than interpersonal conflict, and you have both the power and responsibility for the result.
This approach will work when you have more power than others, but how to manage the conflict when the other person or party has equal power like you?

Let us discuss next week 

Being compassionate to deal with junior colleagues

 Being compassionate to deal with junior colleagues 

(Emotional Management for Personal & Professional Growth Series)

As we discussed on the conflict dynamics, three factors like power, relationship, and goal will determine the approach in any conflict. Also, in an organizational environment, everyone has to face the differences with direct reports, colleagues, and bosses.

Let us discuss some of the practical approaches one can use in each scenario.

Dealing the differences with direct reportees or junior colleagues:

Assume that you are at a managerial level leading people.

In this relationship, you have more power in terms of getting things done, and the relationship is important as it is ongoing interaction. The goal also is shared as their success on the task will impact your performance.

The most effective approaches or choices you have as a manager are
  1. Compassionate approach
  2. Constructive Dominance approach
In a compassionate approach,

 It would help if you looked at the differences or conflict as the outcome of the other person's ignorance or lack of experience.  You need to look at the relationship as parent-child, teacher-student, supervisor-supervisee relationship than a competitor.

Since you have more power than others, you take responsibility for the problem, listen to the other side, and display constructive behavior like listening and concern for the direct reportees.

The outcome would be creating awareness or giving different perspectives to the person and ultimately making them understand your way of thinking and moving in a single direction.
I remember this approach adopted by one of my bosses when i worked as a layout engineer at the beginning of my career. I had prepared different options and defended one choice as it weighed high in all the parameters based on what i learned in the subject. However, my boss had a different view about my conclusion, and i had an argument for my selected option and was not comfortable with the discussions.

He had a choice to dictate one option as per his wish, and i  might have agreed to it as he had positional power. But he chose to listen to my views and educated me on the absence of softer aspects like communication and proximity of people working together in layout design options and convinced me of new options.

Here the key learning for me was his approach of looking at the ignorance of direct reports with compassion, patience to listen to other views, and educating with new insights, getting things done, enhancing the relationship.

The overall outcome of the approach was that he achieved the goal and ensured the relationship. I was also convinced, without any conflict thinking, it enhanced my respect and relationship with him due to new learning. The key is kindness and interest in teaching others with less power.

This approach needs patience and time to educate others when conflict arises.

When won’t this approach work?
Any approach will work only in a particular situation. When you use this approach every time, there is a possibility that some people perceive it as a weakness of you as you are soft. Sometimes, people's motives would be different than yours or the organization’s goal, in which this approach may not work.

But the "constructive dominance approach" will help.
Let us discuss this approach next week.

Understanding Conflict situations

 Understanding Conflict situations 

(Emotional Management for Personal & Professional Growth Series)

As we discuss conflict dynamics and an effective way of managing conflicts at the workplace, let us understand the different elements that lead to various conflict situations. The awareness of different conflict situations will help adopt different approaches to make win-win solutions from the differences.

The requirements or priorities may be different between people. For example, as a manager, you want to fix a problem with a quick-fix solution, whereas your junior colleagues would like to solve it in a structured way, which may take time. Even though you are in the same function, the approach to the problem leads to differences between two people.
Sometimes, the goal itself would be different. For example, your finance head wants to reduce the inventory to reduce cost, and your production head intends to increase it for a better service level.
So, the priority for each people differs, which leads to differences. More accurately, you pinpoint the priority differences and align the focus will help you to manage the conflict well.

It would help if you had a different approach and skillset to manage the conflict.

As discussed earlier, any significant differences leave a scar on the relationship; that is why people do not like to get into conflict most of the time. Some relationships are essential for our well-being and would like to continue forever. Some of the relationships are not that important, and we may be ready to forego.

Being aware of the relationship aspects will help you to improve your tone, communication style in managing the conflict.


In conflict management, the perceived or actual power plays a significant role in managing the conflict well. The power is nothing but the ability to get things done. In any conflict situation, how you are placed among others is an essential criterion to choose your approach.

For example,

when you are dealing with your junior colleagues, you have more power. You can manage any differences relatively well with your experiences, share perspectives with the right intention, and so on.

Suppose you are the functional head and have differences with your counterpart or colleagues from different functions. In that case, you need another skill set to manage the conflict because the perceived power is equal among you and your colleague.

You may have differences with your boss or your customer; you need different approaches to manage the conflict as the perceived power is less.

The key point is that we need to be aware of which part we need to address in the conflict, whether goal differences, dealing with different powers, or maintaining the relationship or the combination of all. That forms a conflict situation, and each situation calls for a different approach.
That awareness will help you to choose suitable approaches to deal with the differences.

The ultimate objective of conflict management is to get things done and maintain the emotional balance among the stakeholders.
Let us look at some of the practical approaches to deal with the differences in the coming weeks.

Tuesday, 3 August 2021

How do you look at Power to deal with conflict?

 How do you look at Power to deal with conflict? 

(Emotional Management for Personal & Professional Growth Series)


As we discuss the dynamics of conflict, the perception of power plays a significant role in dealing with the differences in the workplace. The meaning of Power or positional status is different for different people. In an organizational context, the straight definition of power is the ability to get things done.
One of the studies found that the relevance of power as perceived by self will significantly impact how one deals with conflict or differences in the workplace.

One may look at positional power as 
Fixed Pie or Abundance.

From a fixed pie perspective,

we believe that power is limited; once shared, we get less.

We think that by delegating the authority to someone, we lose control of others. This mindset will have a significant role in how we deal with conflict.

For example,
Someone at the colleague level suggests a good idea to improve the business performance. Even though we also think the idea is worthy of considering, we tend to defend and initiate the differences. We internally believe that we would be losing control or power by openly accepting the other's view immediately. In that way, we get into differences and end with either accepting or rejecting. However, we leave the scar of differences. ( debating is not a problem, but how we initiate and dealing the debate is important in a professional setup)

From an abundance perspective,

Alternatively, some people look at positional power as an abundance of resources. In this perspective, they believe that delegating authority to someone empowers. They believe that they can do more by collaborating with others. They widely accept the different views and are good at arriving at a consensus even when there are differences.

We might have observed some leaders move around friendly, mingle with anyone, and are good at getting things done. Even when the differences arise, they arrive at the consensus quickly as the mindset towards power drives them to settle things without the impression of personality differences.

The point is our perception of our power will have a significant role in initiating or managing the differences through our behaviors.
Changing the mindset on the perception of power may not happen immediately for all. 
Still, the awareness of our perception about the power and its significance on conflict management helps to deal with a collaborative approach to get a win-win situation than a competitive approach.

Understanding conflict dynamics

 Understanding conflict dynamics

(Emotional Management for Personal & Professional Growth Series)
As we have discussed the importance of developing conflict management competency to get things done and maintain the relationship with others in a professional setup, let us understand the dynamics of conflictThis awareness will help us to choose the right mindset before, during, after conflict moments and also allow us to choose the right approach or strategy.

1) Not all conflicts are negative consequences

The moment we think about conflict, we associate it with negative emotions. Not necessarily; all the differences are negative. Some disputes will end up with improved performance and relationships.

2) Conflict happens where we have more interdependent relationships 
Generally, we do not bother much about the differences with whom we interact occasionally. For example, conflict with a potential customer on the solutions approach, and we walk away without much regret.

Whereas we do get disturbed about the differences that arise with a person with whom we frequently interact—for example, conflict with existing customers or with partners or colleagues on the service quality. There, we struggle to balance between performance and relationship.

When we are aware of the need for balancing with more dependant networks, that will enhance our responsibility in handling the differences with the proper mindset and methods.

3) Being aware of Feelings when dealing with the differences

Most likely, we have feelings around
a) How do I feel about the outcome
b) How do i feel about me 
c) how do i feel about the proceedings
d) how do i feel about the relationship with others

When you are mindful of those feelings at that moment, either you can influence the proceedings or feel good about yourself, or you can treat others respectfully during arguments and be empathetic about others or sure about your expectation.

4) Conflict and Power :
Differences arise mainly due to POWER in an organizational setup. Power means the ability to get things done. The perception of power with relating to others makes a difference in the way we manage conflicts.

Let us discuss some of the interesting aspects of Power next week.

Book on Conflict management at workplace

 Book on Conflict management at workplace

(Emotional Management for Personal & Professional Growth Series)


Recently i bought this book " Making Conflict Work" to learn more about conflict management beyond textbook definition and conflict management techniques.

This book served the purpose as the authors had narrated the conflict management process through evidence-based insights, interviews and case studies from practicing managers and leaders in the real world.

If you would like to get more perspective on dealing with disagreement and reaching your goal of getting things done through people, this book can help.

Happy Learning and let us discuss some of the insights on conflict management next week!

Developing Conflict Management Competency

 Developing Conflict Management Competency 

(Emotional Management for Personal & Professional Growth Series)

As we discuss the People Management Skill @ workplace, one of the potential areas for competency development for managers and leaders is managing the conflict.
What is meant by Conflict?
One of the definitions says, “Any situation in which people have incompatible interests, views, goals, principles or feelings.”

By any definition, conflict means DIFFERENCES.

Differences could be on the values, principles, focus areas, means of achieving something, and interest.

Whatever the differences, the underlying factor in any difference is EMOTIONAL baggage like fear of losing the relationship, fear of rejection, losing control, perceived loss of respect, feeling small or low. You can name the destructive emotions that will exist when dealing with the conflict situation depending on the context and the person dealt with.

That is why most of us do not like to be in a conflict situation, as we inherently avoid the pain of handling the emotions during the conflict situation.

However, as a leader or manager, we cannot escape the conflict moments in day-to-day activity. We have conflicts that range from slight to immense magnitude of decision-making in our professional environment.

For example,
Can we have a review meeting on Monday morning or Saturday evening?
Should we give priority to payables or receivables?
Should we give importance to cost or customer service? 
Should we focus on GROWTH or PROFITABILITY?
Should I do the task or delegate it to someone?

The list may go on…
Why do we need to develop the competency?
We manage some conflicts efficiently and are stuck in complex conflicts that strain the relationship and work performance. We may end up with regret or guilt.
Somewhere i read that when we look at our life journey as success or failure, that will have a strong relationship with how we dealt with the conflict WITHIN ourselves or WITH OTHERS at some point in time. That may be true, and that is the consequence of conflict management.
Hence, the competency of conflict management is essential for managers and leaders, and let us discuss some of the insights next week  on 
Dynamics of conflict
How do we respond to conflict?
How to apply some of the conflict management techniques?

 Please recollect and share the recent conflict you encounter and the emotions you have undergone.

Saturday, 17 July 2021

Beyond Criticism

 Beyond Criticism 

(Emotional Management for Personal & Professional Growth Series)

As we discuss the topic of "People Skill at the workplace," let us discuss some of the proven processes to apply when dealing with people.
Last week, we discussed a mature process of criticizing by "beginning your criticism with praise".

I requote the example for quick recall,

Your team presents you with a proposal for a new initiative, and you find that it lacks data, analysis, and proper justification. Instead of scrapping the recommendation by stating it as wasting of time, you can express, “Hi, the intent of new idea and thought process is good, but nowhere the proposal justifies the need for it. The proposal is substandard in its find need to work further on it.”

Compared to bluntly criticizing and hurting others, the method of "beginning criticism with praising"  seems to be a better option to some extent. However, there is scope for further improvement.

Do you think that smart and sensitive people would not recognize your sugar-coated way of criticism? People would be happy with your praise till they hear the word “BUT". When people hear the second part of the statement, they become resentful or feel low. Then they may even doubt the genuine of your praise.

I want to indicate that this method of beginning your criticism with praise would not work for smart and sensitive people. If you want to help them realize their mistakes or overcome some of the behaviors, you need to go one step beyond criticism.

The steps beyond criticism are

1) Encourage them and give a feeling that their mistakes can be correctable
2) Show them or demonstrate to them what needs to be done

In the above example,

In addition to the opinion, you can suggest or guide them on what needs to be modified in the proposal. In that way, you demonstrate genuine care for people’s mistakes or behavior, and you are part of them. That will make people take the intention of criticism in the real spirit.

To sum up,
  • Criticize gently by beginning the criticism with praise
  • Encourage or give a feeling that they can correct the mistakes 
  • Go beyond by guiding them or demonstrating them.
 When you want to persuade people to get things done, you need to practice an effective way of criticizing others when it is really required. Leaders are expected to be a facilitator than a commander in today's professional environment.

Are you criticizing performance or people?

 Are you criticizing performance or people? 

(Emotional Management for Personal & Professional Growth Series)

As we discuss the topic of "People Skill at the workplace," let us discuss some of the proven processes to apply when dealing with people.
One of the typical moments we come across in our day-to-day professional life is giving our opinion to someone on his/ her performance or task. In this process, our intention is most of the time to correct the behavior but unfortunately ended up with criticism. We may be harsh and straight in our views. The strange part is others may not realize the intention and likely perceive it as criticism.

The side effects of criticism would be resentment, defensive, argument, and getting hurt.

As leaders or managers, we always have a dilemma on our communication style, whether we are giving constructive feedback or blunt criticism.

When you observe effective people, they never hesitate to give feedback when they see a sub-standard performance, but they never make it as criticism. They are aware of the fact that any perceived criticism will not solve the problem. They use the simple technique of “Begin criticism with praise.”
For example,

Your team presents a proposal for a new initiative, and you find that it lacks data, analysis, and proper justification. Instead of scrapping the proposal by stating it as wasting of time, you can express, “Hi, the intent of new idea and thought process is good, but nowhere the proposal justifies the need for it. The proposal is substandard, and the team needs to work further on it.”
In the above example, you are criticizing the performance and not the individual. You begin with praising the people‘s ideas and attacking the substandard of the report or performance only. In this way of response, likely no one will get hurt, and also others would take the message from the right perspective.
The point is that we cannot avoid giving feedback in a professional environment. However, we need to ensure the feedback should not be taken as criticism, which hurts the people and sometimes leads to defensive and argument. One effective way of dealing with low performance is to begin your criticism with praise.

This process needs awareness of our communication style when dealing with people. Just try it next time.

Let us discuss some more aspects of criticizing next week.

Power of Edifying others

 Power of Edifying others

(Emotional Management for Personal & Professional Growth Series)
As we discuss the topic of "People Skill at the workplace," let us discuss some insights on improving people's skill management techniques.
For the last few weeks, we have discussed some of the cause and effect of human emotions like pain vs. pleasure, recognizing, appreciation, people's reasons for their actions, beliefs behind the behavior, etc.
Now let us discuss some of the proven processes to apply when dealing with people. One such process is “EDIFYING.”

The meaning of Edifying is to build.

“If you edify a person for some qualities,” means you build a person for those qualities. You may be building the quality himself/herself and the minds of other people as well.

Edify a person, to others and themselves, even for the things you wish they would do. They'll soon begin to "believe in the qualities " and start adopting the traits and behaviors for which they are being edified.

For example,

Your friend  praised you and said, “you are very punctual for every occasion and straightforward in expressing your views.” This expression is something your friend edifies you (build) for those positive qualities.
Eventually, you behave up to, at least to friend's expectation of being punctual and straightforward as much as possible. Indirectly you strive to be consistent on those behaviors for which you have been edified.
It happened to me also in my school days, even though I did not know the meaning of edifying. Whenever i was promoted to the next class, the class teacher informed the next standard class teacher that i was a brilliant student. This used to happen every year and to maintain that “Build-up”! i  was striving hard to be a “ so-called" brilliant student in academics ( fortunately or unfortunately, i have never been excelling other than academics.I wish someone edified for other talents😂).

You can relate in your life that someone introduced you to the third person with some buildup; subsequently, the third person might have treated you according to what he was briefed.

That is the power of edifying as it emerges from the deep emotion of human beings that we want to be notable and recognized for something. We strive to meet the expectation.

In a professional environment, this is one of the powerful processes every leader can adopt by identifying positive qualities in each people and making the person aware of  (as 1-1 basis) or in front of others. That edifying process will make the person or make others expect the behavior from the person.

When you expand this concept, you can edify your team and your industry as well. Because what you expect comes to you.