Local First Workshop Recap: Conflict to Conversation

Raise your hand if you’ve ever been faced with conflict…Okay, now you can put it down. I’m confident in asking that because one of life’s firm truths is that we are all faced with conflict more times than once. While conflict is surely uncomfortable, it’s not all bad or unhealthy. In fact, most conflict can be constructive, if relieved in a healthy manner. But, when tensions are high, and sticky feelings settle in, how can we resolve conflict while putting our humanity first?

This month, we’re excited to continue our Workforce Workshop series. March marked the beginning of these conversations, with an event centered around employee wellness and mental health. In June, we continued the discussions on workforce wellness by discussing how cooperative ownership models aid in creating sustainable business futures. This month, we are concluding our series with an enlightening Conflict to Conversation Workshop with Tatiana Richardson, LMSW, with the Mental Health Clinicians of Color.

Tatiana shared key steps in identifying healthy versus unhealthy conflict, collaborative problem-solving approaches, and more. Through her interactive presentation, attendees were provided valuable resources, skills, worksheets, and opportunities to practice what they’ve learned in real-time with Tatiana’s guidance. Continue reading for a recap of the presentation and how to access Tatiana’s resources.

Tatiana began her presentation by helping attendees identify the difference between healthy and unhealthy conflict. Oftentimes, conflict occurs naturally and cannot be avoided. However, most conflict is healthy, only turning unhealthy with aggression or abandonment, and the best way out, is through.

Tatiana then moved on to discussing self-management techniques as the first key step in addressing conflict. These include managing your own bias, stereotypes, judgements, personal beliefs, and rigidity, and even ongoing personal life experiences as they can cloud judgement and block us from reasonable compromise. Similarly, avoiding projection of past workplace experiences and having a flexible mindset are very encouraged; as Tatiana said, “sometimes it is best to focus on finding a reasonable solution, more so than being right.”

Tatiana then shared steps in the problem-solving process, with some key takeaways as follows:

  1. Allow each party the opportunity to freely express what they perceive is the problem.
  2. Be aware of your emotional regulation before holding difficult conversations and stay conscious of your body language during.
  3. Make efforts to fully understand the problem by asking questions and avoiding unspoken expectations.
  4. Lean into assertive communication, which lies in the middle of the spectrum between passive and aggressive.
  5. List all solutions; some of the best ones are driven from creativity.
  6. Evaluate all solutions and mutually agree on the best one.
  7. Set standards for implementations and a plan to follow up and hold each other accountable.

The workshop concluded with an opportunity for attendees to anonymously share their own workplace conflicts and work through them using the tools provided by Tatiana in real time.

To review Tatiana’s full PowerPoint, click here.

The Local First program is dedicated to bringing workshop opportunities to our community. We are thrilled to bring more topics to the table to better workforce wellness. Stay tuned for what’s next in 2024 and in the meantime, dive into these great resources!

Local First Workshops are powered by the MEDC.

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