Encountering conflict in the workplace is inevitable, and mismanaged conflict can lead to stress, anxiety and frustration. Because of this, it is important to have the tools to effectively understand and deal with conflict at work.
For our round table topic this week, we welcomed our guest speaker, Stephaine Redivo, with her expertise as the Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) Program Lead at TransLink. Stephanie brought her 20+ years of experience to lead our discussion on how to successfully navigate conflict at the workplace.
Stephanie indicated that her “relationship with conflict has changed over the years.” Rather than to avoid conflict at all costs, companies and employees are learning to embrace conflict resolution as something that can leave a positive impact for everyone moving forward.
We asked Stephanie for tips on having tough conversations, navigating different types of conflict and to have her tell her own stories on conflict navigation.
Having Tough Conversations: The PIE Method
Stephanie emphasized that it is important to “think about where your ego is at” when having tough conversations. She specifies using the PIE method which is in the acronym for “prepare, intend and end” when having tough conversations.
The PIE method can be used to address tough conversations between coworkers and supervisors. Stephanie shared her own story in realizing the importance of the PIE method early in her career, where she was made aware that one of her male colleagues received a higher salary than her despite having the same role.
At the time, Stephanie chose to walk away rather than confront her supervisor on the salary distribution. However, looking back, she reflected that she could have taken the opportunity to use the PIE method and “have maybe done something differently.”
Using the PIE method entailed preparing adequate research and understanding exactly what type of conversation was needed for everyone involved. Stephanie believed that it was essential to “take the time to prepare” while also being able to “take the time to understand the other person’s point of view.”
Stephanie emphasized that having tough conversations meant going back to “knowing where your ego is at” by understanding when to push back against conflict, and when to step away from it. While it was natural to “want to win,” it was also essential to go deeper to ask “why is there this need to win and what does winning look like?”
Navigating Peer-to-Peer, Leadership and Cultural Conflict
We go on to ask Stephanie to discuss the three common types of conflicts: peer-peer, leadership and cultural conflict.
Peer to peer conflict, as Stephanie indicated, is “the easiest one to avoid” as we are on the same power dynamic as our peers, and conflict can be attributed more to different working styles. While it can be difficult to get someone to change their working style, it’s possible to adapt to it by changing how you are responding back to your peers.
Leadership conflict is more complicated. As Stephanie puts it, “even if your manager says that they’re your friend… [they] can promote you. They can give you cool assignments, they can be your sponsor.” This means having conversations with your manager to understand what is important to them to reflect on whether your working style is effective to meet the demands that are asked; and also “having smaller meetings with other [executives] to build up the allies.”
Finally, for cultural conflict, we have to look at working in an environment with diverse cultures, and in the values of the company culture. Stephanie emphasized it was important to know “what’s important for you” when working for a company and ask yourself if “there’s a clash of cultures.”
Stephanie quoted two of her core values to “be easy to work with” and to “be kind, because you just don’t know what battle people are fighting that day.”
Personal Success Stories
We asked Stephanie to also share with us two of her personal success stories.
Stephanie shared with us her personal story on navigating conflict with her partner during their marriage, which was, once again, a reflection in thinking about where her ego is at. As quoted by Stephanie, “I was a strong woman and this is how it’s going to be, but then at what cost?”
She then shared with us her second story as she was navigating conflict at work in the form of receiving pushback from her manager regarding her promotion. Using the PIE method, Stephanie “kept consistent to it and … was able to kind of push through that [barrier].”
With both of her stories, Stephanie emphasized the need to know when to step away and when to push back. It is important to recognize that while pushing back is essential, it was also important to understand when it was necessary to step back.