Leadership Matters: Reducing conflict through Aikido
Apply “go with” martial arts philosophy to communication
The difference between a good leader and a great leader often comes down to how one handles conflict. Conflict in the workplace is unavoidable. Leaders gain or lose respect based on how they respond to and handle it.
Our instincts don’t serve us well in conflict. If we disagree with something that someone says, our natural reaction is to push back, to push against that person. This response can sound defensive or aggressive, causing a loss of respect from employees.
Even if you are not the one pushing against, you are likely to work with employees who will display this behavior. For example, outspoken millennials may resort to this push-against communication style. Younger employees aren’t afraid to share their opinions and ideas or to challenge those of their superiors, according to workplace research.
One way to reduce conflict and increase cooperation is to go with, not against people who disagree with you. That is the essence of the Japanese martial arts form known as Aikido. Here are examples of “push-against” responses:
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