Monday, February 9, 2009


I found this section of reading very interesting and challenging.  I am reminded of the communication chapter in Peterson's book, where he challenges administrative training programs' lack of training in communication.  I think that conflict resolution is in the same category.  We, as administrators, have very little (if at all) formal training in how to effectively deal with and manage conflicts.  Yet, conflict is a very big part of our job.  It comes from all sides - from within the school, from the community, from the school board, from the parents, from the federal & state government, and even from the students!

I think that part of the problem in the lack of preparation, is that "conflict resolution" strategies have typically been identified as a "touchy-feely" approach to "business" and, bottom line "business" needs to be cut and dry to show profits and succeed.  I'm not sure why educational leadership training programs haven't valued the psychosocial disciplines and theories that help explain human behavior.  After all, aren't we in the "business" of people (ie. students)?  I think Petersen said it best when he described the common assumption that we (administrators) would just pick it up as we go along (learn by doing???). Obviously, this doesn't just happen.

In summarizing these readings on conflict, many key words have stuck in my mind:
*Seek to understand
*Concentrate on needs
*Be honest
*Be a reflective listener
*Encourage open dialogue
*Recognize and Respect: ideas, opinions, suggestions

Understanding that we are "emotional beings in a social setting" requires us to be student's of human behavior.  It requires us to look through the lens of emotional/social development and make necessary changes and adjustments to our attitude, beliefs and behavior.  

I feel that taking on a leadership role requires humility, respect for individuals, and a whole lot of courage!  It is usually "me" that does the most changing and that doesn't always feel that great.  But, the benefits of a relational, team-oriented work environment can be a wonderful pay off.  Working with people takes work.  The work must begin with me.  I cannot afford to be stuck in my ways or closed off to new ideas.  I cannot maintain the "status quo."  I must be a front runner for effective changes and pass the ball to my teammates along the way (N & T metaphor with Rugby) as we progress toward the goal of our organization.  


learning in real time said...

Interesting and astute observations!

Working with people does take work, and I would certainly concur that the work must begin internally with each of us.

I know that, while I have always known this in theory, and have certainly learned it in practice repeatedly over time, with our O.D. projects I am challenged to test my own learning in this area once again.

As emotional beings in a social setting AND social beings in an emotional setting, we must constantly examine our own beliefs and attitudes. In the context of the research we are conducting in the organizations we are studying, we must be sensitive to the impact our emotions, beliefs, and attitudes have on the findings and results of our own investigations.

I keep wondering... Can we be objective?

Patty said...

I don't think we can be truly "objective." Even experienced researchers will disclose their "bias." I agree with you that we must be very sensitive to this issue and acknowledge the subjectivity along the way!