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Guiding Principles working with group dynamics

Managing Diversity

Most people believe in the golden rule: treat others as you want to be treated. The implicit assumption is that how you want to be treated is how others want to be treated. But when you look at this proverb through a diversity perspective, you begin to ask the question: what does respect look like; does it look the same for everyone? Does it mean saying hello in the morning, or leaving someone alone, or making eye contact when you speak?

It depends on the individual. We may share similar values, such as respect or need for recognition, but how we show those values through behaviour may be different for different groups or individuals. How do we know what different groups or individuals need? Perhaps instead of using the golden rule, we could use the platinum rule which states: "treat others as they want to be treated." Moving our frame of reference from what may be our default view ("our way is the best way") to a diversity-sensitive perspective ("let's take the best of a variety of ways") will help us to manage more effectively in a diverse work environment.

Our Role

We have a key role in transforming the organizational culture so that it more closely reflects the values of our diverse workforce. Some of the skills needed are:

  • an understanding and acceptance of managing diversity concepts
  • recognition that diversity is threaded through every aspect of management
  • self-awareness, in terms of understanding your own culture, identity, biases, prejudices, and stereotypes
  • willingness to challenge and change institutional practices that present barriers to different groups


Conflict Resolution

In most conflicts, neither party is right or wrong; instead, different perceptions collide to create disagreement. Conflict is natural and it's up to you to respond to conflict situations quickly and professionally. Conflict can be very positive; if you deal with it openly, you can strengthen your work unit by correcting problems. Conflicting views give you a chance to learn more about yourself, explore views of others, and develop productive relationships. Clear and open communication is the cornerstone of successful conflict resolution.

Dealing With Anger (passive & aggressive)

When you meet with someone who is angry, you can use the tools of effective listening to help defuse this anger. Nevertheless, when anger is directed at you, it is much more difficult to respond definitively, because your own emotions are usually involved.

To effectively defuse anger, keep in mind the needs of the angry speaker:

  • To vent. An angry person needs to let off steam and release the anger that may have been brewing for a long time use your communication skills to allow the person to do this.
  • To get the listener's attention. An angry person wants to know that you are paying attention use your body language to show this.
  • To be heard. An angry person wants someone to listen to her point of view acknowledge the feelings you hear so that the speaker knows you appreciate how angry she is.
  • To be understood. An angry person wants someone to appreciate how she feels try to empathize with her experience so that she feels you understand the situation, and acknowledge her right to feel the way she does.

When you're listening to an angry person:

  • Be attentive and patient. Keep in mind that she will become less angry as you let her express herself.
  • Be sincere. Empathy and validation must be both honest and genuine.
  • Be calm. Try to remove your own emotions from the discussion. Remember that an angry person may say inflammatory things in the heat of the moment, but you do not have to react angrily.


Guiding Principles

By resolving conflicts skilfully, you can:

  • Gain cooperation from team members
  • Improve performance and productivity
  • Reduce stress and preserve integrity
  • Solve problems as quickly as possible
  • Improve relationships and teamwork
  • Enhance creativity
  • Increase staff morale


Resolving Conflict Situations

  • Acknowledge that a difficult situation exists. Honesty and clear communication play an important role in the resolution process. Acquaint yourself with what's happening and be open about the problem.
  • Let individuals express their feelings. Some feelings of anger and/or hurt usually accompany conflict situations. Before any kind of problem-solving can take place, these emotions should be expressed and acknowledged.
  • Define the problem. What is the stated problem? What is the negative impact on the work or relationships? Are differing personality styles part of the problem? Meet with those involved separately at first and question them about the situation.
  • Determine underlying need. The goal of conflict resolution is not to decide which person is right or wrong; the goal is to reach a solution that everyone can live with. Looking first for needs, rather than solutions, is a powerful tool for generating win/win options. To discover needs, you must try to find out why people want the solutions they initially proposed. Once you understand the advantages their solutions have for them, you have discovered their needs.
  • Find common areas of agreement, no matter how small:
    • Agree on the problem
    • Agree on the procedure to follow
    • Agree on worst fears
    • Agree on some small change to give an experience of success
  • Find solutions to satisfy needs:
  • Problem-solve by generating multiple alternatives
  • Determine which actions will be taken
  • Make sure involved parties buy into actions. (Total silence may be a sign of passive resistance.) Be sure you get real agreement from everyone.
  • Determine follow-up you will take to monitor actions. You may want to schedule a follow-up conversation / meeting to determine how the parties are doing.
  • Determine what you'll do if the conflict goes unresolved.




In-Groups and Out-Groups

  • Intergroup aggression is any behaviour intended to harm another person because he or she is a member of an out group or alone and removed from the group

Intergroup Cooperation: Changing Social Identity

Conflict resolution can also be facilitated by cooperating toward shared goals that can be attained only if groups work together. Under the proper conditions, cooperative intergroup interaction reduces conflict. SUPERORDINATE GOALS

Resolving Conflict and Reducing Aggression

Reducing aggression often involve altering people's immediate perceptions of others, or the situational cues that may increase aggression. Conflict-resolution strategies focus on reconciling the parties' concrete goals and aspirations. Other strategies encourage cooperation.

Altering Perceptions and Reactions

One approach to reducing aggression and conflict is to minimize or remove the cues that often cause individuals to commit aggressive acts, and to encourage careful interpretation and identification with others.

Minimize cues for aggression

Some cues activate aggressive thoughts and feelings, making overt acts of aggression more likely, whereas other cues can decrease aggression.

Interpret, and interpret again

Factors that make it difficult for people to think carefully, such as alcohol use, high emotion, or limited time to think, generally increase aggressive behaviour.

Promote empathy with others

Aggression is easiest when victims are distanced and dehumanized. To avoid this, people should intentionally think about the fact that victims are still human beings, because similarity is a barrier to aggression. Empathy is incompatible with aggression.


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