Workplace Conflict Resolution: Sean Of Making that sale On How Team Leaders Can Create The Right Environment To Resolve Conflicts
An Interview With Eric Pines
Be willing to give. Conflict means two people don’t see things the same way. Sometimes we’re not going to come to a full and complete understanding. In these times, it’s important for each party to be flexible and compassionate. If you can give a little to the other sides, even if you don’t fully understand why it’s important, it will open the doors to future growth.
An important component of leadership is conflict resolution. Why is conflict resolution so important? How can leaders effectively incorporate conflict resolution into their work culture? In this interview series called “Workplace Conflict Resolution: How Team Leaders Can Create The Right Environment To Resolve Conflicts,” we are talking to business leaders who can share insights and anecdotes from their experience about how to implement Conflict Resolution at work. As part of this series, we had the pleasure of interviewing Sean McAlindin.
Sean McAlindin has been writing about music, arts, and culture for over a decade. He recently dove headfirst into the world of business writing and is loving it!
With a knack for thorough research and a flair for creative writing, Sean breaks down even the most complex topics in a way that is easy to understand and fun to read. As a long-time teacher, he enjoys helping his readers learn about the world of sales from a fresh perspective.
Sean has been involved in a range of business ventures over the years including starting his own landscaping company, growing grassroots non-profits, and helping musicians and artists define their marketing strategies.
When he’s not writing, Sean can be found jamming with his bluegrass band, hiking a remote peak, or setting out on his latest adventure with his daughter, Penelope.
Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series. Before we dive into our discussion, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you share with us the backstory about what brought you to your specific career path?
I was an English teacher and outdoor educator for 15 years when I realized I needed a career change. So, I decided to pursue writing full-time with a focus on music, culture, business, and technology.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started your career?
The best part of my job is interviewing interesting people. I’ve had great conversations with musicians like Kenny Loggins, Herbie Hancock, and Ani DiFranco to name a few. At the end of one interview, I got Graham Nash on the home phone with my father who is a huge fan. That was a special memory.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Do you have a story about how that was relevant in your life?
Always be ready to learn new skills and see the world from a fresh perspective. I tell myself this all the time, especially as I am navigating my most recent career change.
What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?
Making that sale is committed to bringing the best quality informational articles on topics including sales and marketing. We are willing to invest in in-depth reporting and research rather than clickbait and quick reads. I like knowing that my articles answer popular questions in the most thorough, accessible way possible.
You are a successful business leader. Which three character traits do you think were most instrumental to your success? Can you please share a story or example for each?
Lead by example. It’s the fastest, most reliable way to gain the respect of your team. Be inquisitive. While a lot of people stay in their lane, asking questions and looking for better solutions leads to opportunities. Practice empathy. All work is people work.
Leadership often entails making difficult decisions or hard choices between two apparently good paths. Can you share a story about a hard decision or choice you had to make as a leader?
Letting someone go is always the hardest. There are going to be reasons to keep them, but ultimately you have to look at the overall health of your organization.
Ok, thank you for that. Let’s now jump to the primary focus of our interview. Let’s start with a basic definition so that all of us are on the same page. What does Conflict Resolution mean?
Conflict resolution is simply addressing a problem between two people, or between a person and an organization.
What are some common misunderstandings about Conflict Resolution that are important to clear up?
Conflict resolution is ultimately a good thing! And it doesn’t have to be stressful or uncomfortable. It’s kind of like pulling out a splinter. It might not feel good in the moment, but you’ll feel much better after its gone. I try to encourage the people I work with to approach it like optimism, energy, empathy, and confidence that it will lead to the best outcome.
This might be intuitive to you, but it will be helpful to clearly express this. Can you please explain why it is so important for leaders to learn and deploy conflict resolution techniques?
There are always going to be differences of opinion within a workforce. It’s what makes us human. The trick is knowing how to turn these moments of conflict into opportunities for growth and deeper connection.
On the flip side, what happens to a work culture when there is not an effective way of resolving conflict? How does it impact employees?
Unaddressed conflicts can be a death knell for business. Some may just decrease morale and productivity. Others can grow into full-blown crises that can bring down the Titanic.
Can you provide examples of how effective conflict resolution has led to increased team performance, collaboration, or innovation within your organization?
Most conflicts are born of misunderstanding and miscommunication. Two people may see something differently, but if they are able to talk it out, it often leads to increased trust. Working through conflicts is what makes us stronger and more prepared to conquer the challenges ahead.
Ok super. Here is the main question of our interview. What are your “Five Ways Every Team Leader Can Create The Right Environment To Resolve Conflicts”? If you can, please share specific examples of a workplace conflict you’ve encountered, and how you applied conflict resolution techniques to address it.
1 . Be proactive. I’m going way back for this one to the time I worked at a river tubing company in Collinsville, Connecticut. We all loved listening to music at work and it set the vibe for the customer experience. However, there were some real differences of opinion regarding what music we should play. We ended up having a group discussion, led by a longtime patron, that helped us come up with a solution that allowed everyone’s tastes to be heard and respected. It was my first lesson in the power of proactive conflict resolution.
2 . See conflict as potential. I worked for years in outdoor education, taking teenagers backpacking, rock climbing, and camping. These experiences often led to life-changing personal breakthroughs for our clients. However, the biggest growth always came after a period of conflict.
Think about starting a fire with two sticks. It’s the conflict between them that creates the flame. Conflict reveals our boundaries, our comfort zone, and what is holding us back. When I guided these students through their challenges in an empowering and safe way, I got to see the change happen before my eyes. But if we tiptoed around it and never addressed the real issues, they usually didn’t get as much out of the course.
3 . Maintain respect boundaries. Conflict resolution does sometimes go awry. If people cross certain lines in terms of language, personal attacks, or physical altercations, if can hard, if not impossible, to repair the damage. So while strong leaders lean into conflict to their advantage, they also know how to maintain a safe, respectful environment at all times. That is the baseline for any successful conflict resolution. I don’t have to get into specific stories for you to imagine how this could go wrong.
4 . Actual face time almost always helps. As a public school teacher, conflicts with students were inevitable. When I just couldn’t seem to get on the same page as a student who was disrespecting my class, it was almost always helpful to schedule a meeting with their parents. No matter was solutions we came up with together, the actual act of being in the same room together helped to build the rapport we needed to start approaching the future with a more generous, positive mind frame. Trust is essential to build relationships and actually getting to know somebody makes a big difference.
5 . Be willing to give. Conflict means two people don’t see things the same way. Sometimes we’re not going to come to a full and complete understanding. In these times, it’s important for each party to be flexible and compassionate. If you can give a little to the other sides, even if you don’t fully understand why it’s important, it will open the doors to future growth.
I once worked with a woman who wore the most outlandish costumes to teach. School leadership spoke with her about it and she was very adamant that it was her right to express herself. Once the administration accepted this, she blossomed and became one of the most popular and successful teachers in the school. She still dresses up in fantastic ways from time to time, but not as often as she once did.
In your experience, what are the most common sources of conflict within a team, and how do you proactively address these potential issues before they escalate?
Microagressions are actually a big deal, especially now that we’ve all been trained to look for them. It’s helpful to train your staff on this, while also cultivating an open, forgiving culture focused on cooperation and trust, rather than looking for faults or perceived slights. However, these problems come up all the time and seemingly small exchanges can quickly turn into big problems.
You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
I would encourage people to use less resources. We are destroying our planet and leaving a mess for future generations to clean up.
How can our readers further follow you online?
Follow my writing at makingthatsale.com.
Thank you for the time you spent sharing these fantastic insights. We wish you only continued success in your great work!
About the Interviewer: Eric L. Pines is a nationally recognized federal employment lawyer, mediator, and attorney business coach. He represents federal employees and acts as in-house counsel for over fifty thousand federal employees through his work as a federal employee labor union representative. A formal federal employee himself, Mr. Pines began his federal employment law career as in-house counsel for AFGE Local 1923 which is in Social Security Administration’s headquarters and is the largest federal union local in the world. He presently serves as AFGE 1923’s Chief Counsel as well as in-house counsel for all FEMA bargaining unit employees and numerous Department of Defense and Veteran Affairs unions.
While he and his firm specialize in representing federal employees from all federal agencies and in reference to virtually all federal employee matters, his firm has placed special attention on representing Veteran Affairs doctors and nurses hired under the authority of Title. He and his firm have a particular passion in representing disabled federal employees with their requests for medical and religious reasonable accommodations when those accommodations are warranted under the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (ADA). He also represents them with their requests for Federal Employee Disability Retirement (OPM) when an accommodation would not be possible.
Mr. Pines has also served as a mediator for numerous federal agencies including serving a year as the Library of Congress’ in-house EEO Mediator. He has also served as an expert witness in federal court for federal employee matters. He has also worked as an EEO technical writer drafting hundreds of Final Agency Decisions for the federal sector.
Mr. Pines’ firm is headquartered in Houston, Texas and has offices in Baltimore, Maryland and Atlanta, Georgia. His first passion is his wife and five children. He plays classical and rock guitar and enjoys playing ice hockey, running, and biking. Please visit his websites at www.pinesfederal.com and www.toughinjurylawyers.com. He can also be reached at [email protected].
Workplace Conflict Resolution: Sean Of Making that sale On How Team Leaders Can Create The Right… was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.