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Susanne Schuler

Crowne Finch


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Blog: How to avoid a Christmas bust-up


It’s official now, the Christmas season has started.

The city is decorated, sparkling and illuminated.
It is chilly, people have started sipping mulled wine, and pulling and wearing paper hats at Christmas parties. One of my colleagues is even planning her Christmas-tree decoration using a new app on her iPad. So, what’s the spirit of Christmas?
I won’t go back as far as Bethlehem and tell you the whole story (there’s a special book where you can read about it and probably an app too.)
To find out more about this, I ran a little survey amongst our clients and colleagues and most of them answered with, “It’s about peace and harmony”, “about giving” or “about hope and making a new start”. Others replied with “it’s about stress, conflicts” or “getting things done before year-end” or “it’s about final close etc.”.
Instead of seeing the Christmas time as a stressful race towards the end of the year, why not see Christmas as a special opportunity to create peace, to tie up loose ends, to atone, forgive and to prepare a clean start for the New Year?
What if you started the Christmas holidays with a clear desk and a clear mind? Wouldn’t it be a great feeling to come back into the office in the New Year with no niggling hassles?
Think about a difficult situation that is hindering you at work and the conflicts that are blocking your workflow – wave a magic wand – woosh – and all the grief suddenly disappears. ‘How?’, you may ask.
Resolving conflict
The Answer is simple but not trivial: Stop avoiding conflicts! Start embracing them as positive opportunities and begin cooperating and collaborating.
To give you some help, I’d like to share with you one particular outcome of our mediation event last week that caused an “A-ha” moment amongst the participants (professionals from different corporate organisations with varied levels of experience from HR Directors to early career HR professionals).
In this high-energy workshop we coached the delegates who defined what workplace conflicts were all about for them. We went on to raise their awareness of the importance of dealing with them constructively – and finally, we discussed several models that help to establish a constructive conflict culture within organisations.
Amongst the models which really clicked with our audience was the “Communication Square” exercise which helps you understand what is really being said by someone you are in conflict with.
You might want to try this at Christmas time – it works with colleagues and with family members, (we only take responsibility for positive outcomes): Take a sentence uttered by the person you’re having a difference with and which triggered and frustrated you.
Now, imagine you have 4 ears and can listen to the message with each ear separately – one of your new ears only listens out for facts, one only listens to appeals/questions, another only listens out for relationship/power-related topics and your last ear only hears what the sender is saying about him/herself (self-revelation).
It sounds simple – it is profound. See, what kind of impact this exercise has on you and let us know your outcomes. We would love to hear about your experiences.
To wish you a merry and peaceful Christmas, we’d like to encourage you to start resolving your conflicts early and openly and to invest in some time in creating peace in this special season of goodwill to all men. How does this sound?
Good luck and let us know how you get on. Have a good week.
Susanne Schuler is a consultant at HR transformation specialist, Crowne Finch.

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