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The 5 Degrees of Conflict

When we are "red hot" over a situation, we don't often peel away the layers to see what is truly the root of our anger. In fact, when someone states that they are angry, I challenge them to name another emotion. More often than not, under anger is hurt, embarrassment... or even shame.
The next time your blood begins to boil, remember these "degrees" of conflict. Perhaps your conflict does not have to be consumed in flames. Maybe the conflict is luke warm, instead.

Here are the degrees of conflict:

1st Degree- INFORMATION- You might be operating with one set of facts and someone else has another. This is the lowest degree of conflict and the easiest to rectify. The key is to have all parties come together and just put all your cards on the table. Have an agenda with specific points of discussion so that you stay on track.Understandably, there will be some circumstances where there is critical information that can not be shared. Those cases are generally exceptions, but should still be honored.

2nd Degree- METHODOLOGY- Common core math is a prime example here. Is it wrong? No. Do we understand it? Perhaps, but there is a responsibility to learn the new way if we ever want to help our kids with their homework. It is easy to write off other people when they don't do something the way we would do it. This is especially true if we are training somebody. How are future generations going to grow if we do not let people walk through a process that is attainable for them? This might mean that they do things a bit differently, but remember, this world is constantly changing. By being open to other methods, we might just increase our own productivity.

3rd Degree- PRIORITY- Take reports for example, an extroverted, task-oriented person is going to want the bottom line, no frills... just the take away. They often want this information quickly, too. An introverted, task-oriented person will get the information to the extrovert, but they will often take their time laboring on each point to ensure that they are correct. This is likely to cause the extrovert to express frustration at the introvert's pace. The introvert is likely to express frustration at the extrovert's lack of acknowledgement of time involved on this project.

4th Degree- GOALS- Write down... right now... your time frame for soon, now, and asap. How soon is "soon?" Without sharing your answers, ask some of your coworkers for their definition of "soon, now, and asap." This is one of my favorite exercises because it shines a light on what we assume others know, yet, there are many definitions. If you believe that "now" means, "drop what you're doing," and your employee thinks it means, "I just need to get it done today," there is a miscommunication, isn't there? We can't make these assumptions. Even ASAP in some logistics companies means, "as you are able." You would need to expedite the shipment if you want it at a specific time. Be specific in communicating your goals and expectations.

5th Degree- VALUES- This is the highest degree of conflict and the real reason we do not discuss religion and politics in the workplace. These are our core values. When we feel threatened or judged on these values, it leads to more damage in a relationship. Tread lightly in this arena and try to simmer down the conflict to another level as this one will likely not get a resolution. Our values define who we are and discussing items on this level are likely to be viewed as personal attacks.

There you have it! Next time you start feeling your blood boil, remember to cool down, take a breath and see, truly, the extent of the conflict. Perhaps it isn't as hot of an issue as you think! 

1 Comment to The 5 Degrees of Conflict:

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JOSEPH FICARO on Monday, June 05, 2017 2:04 PM
Renee, This post is excellent. In today's world, especially within the ever evolving workplace, we need all the tools available to help us be more and reasonably effective. I appreciate the benefit from each of the 5 Degrees of Conflict. For my own purposes, I've rearranged the order of Goals to be: Now, ASAP, and Soon. On their surface, this would work best for me. I'm going to utilize them this week with a family/home project and, moving forward, "attempt" to incorporate all 5 in the workplace. I realize, as you've stated, that other individuals may have their own definition for each. Allow me to add that we may apply two facets to our definitions, one of which we "think," the other of which we "do." Renee, at the bottom of your post is a HTML tags link. I tried some tags in my comment. Let me know if I was successful. We're all works in progress. Enjoy Your Week...Your Continued Success! 🇺🇸Joe
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