Assessing An Interviewee’s Conflict Management Skills

Image Source: Pixabay

Being able to effectively handle challenging conversations is an essential leadership skill. But is there a way to assess someone’s conflict competence – or any other leadership competency, for that matter – BEFORE you hire them?


Here, as example, are some conversation-starters you can easily add to your upcoming interviews:

  1. “People don’t always agree. And those disagreements can sometimes become uncomfortable. Please share an example of a conflict you experienced at work…and how you worked through it.”
  2. (Part A) “Different things ‘trigger’ different people. Please share an example of a time that YOU were triggered by someone…and how you dealt with it.”
  3. (Part B) “What helps you NOT get triggered?”
  4. (Part C) “How do you help others who you’ve inadvertently triggered regain their composure?”
  5. “Please share an example of a time when you avoided addressing a work issue because of the conflict you felt it would’ve caused…and walk me through your decision process.”
  6. “Please share an example of a workplace conflict you unintentionally may have caused – or was blamed for causing…and how you dealt with it.”
  7. “Please share an example of how you worked through an issue with someone you disagreed with that resulting in something excellent happening.”
  8. (Part A) “On a scale of 1 to 10 (1=low; 10=high) how would you rate your conflict management skills? Why?”
  9. (Part B) “On a scale of 1 to 10 (1=low; 10=high) how would OTHERS rate your conflict management skills? Why?”

The key is in your thinking about whatever competency you want to focus on, where (what scenarios) that competency would be needed, and asking the interviewee to share an experience of theirs that illuminates how they thought, felt, and/or acted in such a scenario of their choosing – and then asking whatever clarification or followup questions you need to fully understand their example.

By doing so, you can then pretty easily determine if the answer they provided sufficiently demonstrates the competency you’re looking for – in a sufficiently relevant context – or not.

Give it a try and let me know what you learn.

Leadership Move #15: Be Bolder

Image Source: Pixabay
Here are seven leadership moves to help you be bolder, more easily:

  1. Purposefully Push The Envelope –
    Show what you’ve got…and to see what happens. You can always apologize (mop up?!) later if someone thinks you went too far. (Remember: You have been given leadership responsibility for a reason – so lead.)
  2. Be More Visible –
    Let them get to know who you really are and what you really stand for. People, at all levels, are going to form their opinions about you, anyway, so you might as well have a say in what they decide. (Always participate. If you don’t provide input at the meetings you attend, you are actively diluting your brand – whether you think so or not.)
  3. Keep Focused On What People Are Counting On You For –
    Be relentless in delivering EXACTLY that…up, down, and across the chain. (Knowing your entire business, not just the part you’re responsible for, provides great clarity in knowing exactly what that ‘exactly’ is.)
  4. Take A Stand –
    Get passionate about possibilities…especially with peers and superiors. Let them know you’re alive, engaged, and ready to make some magic happen. (Volunteer and seek out special projects you believe in, as well.)
  5. Jump In Sooner, Rather Than Later – You don’t always have to wait for everyone to stop talking before saying something…learn how to interrupt politely. (It’s not always rude to intrude. Watch any good tv interviewer to learn how. Watch any lousy tv interviewer to learn how NOT to!)
  6. Innovate Through Experimentation – Dare to try new things. Don’t be afraid to fail…you’ll get more mileage from applying your Lessons Learned on subsequent problems and opportunities than you will from just dutifully taking the safe route. (Even a small scale pilot or test program can provide surprising value, regardless of its outcome.)
  7. Enjoy Yourself –
    People want to work with people who want to work. So help them realize that you want to work by showing them how much you enjoy the work you do…even if it isn’t always the case! (Modeling enthusiasm and effective ‘mood management’ are very powerful leadership techniques. Show ’em how.)

When you’re bolder in your interactions with others – they’ll respect you for shaking things up…and they’ll see you as someone capable of even greater things.

A word of warning, though: Be sure to do so RESPECTFULLY, though. Otherwise, you’ll likely be seen as more of a liability than a potential asset.


Happy New Year…Again

A new year can seem like déjà vu all over again, yes?!

It’s especially true for people in sales: Another set of goals, quotas, and annual targets; more metrics that don’t quite capture what it takes to be successful; that familiar feeling of wishing you could take the entire month of January off to rest and recoup from yet another blazingly intense 4th quarter.

It’s true for leaders, as well: New goals and objectives that continue to involve some type of stretch; updated policies and procedures that turn the familiar upside down; another set of priorities and strategic initiatives that still don’t provide the clarity or resources you need to get everything done.

Yes, a new year CAN seem like déjà vu all over again.

Let The Circle NOT Be Unbroken

Left unchecked, this over-and-over-again can wear down even the most resilient of us. But it doesn’t have to.

A quick scan of the following five categories can help you break the cycle and make you more E.A.G.E.R. to face – and be ready for – the challenges of the New Year:

  1. E – Your ENTHUSIASM – Never underestimate the value that enthusiasm can bring. So bring it. Big Time. ESPECIALLY when you don’t feel like it.
  2. A – Your AGILITY – Sure, you’ve got your favorite ways of doing things, and many of them are likely quite refined. But make a point of expanding your range, as it were. Being a one-trick pony may feel safe and familiar, but it all too quickly leads to boredom, which leads to inattention, which leads to making mistakes and missing prime opportunities to have a real impact.
  3. G – Your GROWTH – Now I’m a fan of strengths-based leadership, but truth is, if you don’t expand more than just your strengths, you’re likely going to start overcompensating for your weaknesses in ways that dilute your brand. So make this the year you hit things ‘head on’ by developing some new skills that you know you need to learn. Not sure which ones? Come on, now, yes you are!
  4. E – Your EASE – Intensity, well-applied, is a good thing. But constantly creating (or adding) stress and drama – often the unavoidable byproducts of intensity – gets really exhausting, really fast. Just ask around. You can immediately become a better role-model by NOT freaking out every time something new suddenly blips on your radar. It’s you chance to show others how to handle pressure. It’s your chance to be a SOURCE of strength, caring, and focus…for THEM. It’s your chance to be a source of strength, caring, and focus…for YOURSELF, as well.
  5. R – Your RESPONSIVENESS – Whether you consider yourself an extrovert or introvert, the workplace requires you to interact with the people around you. So be pleasant. Be patient. Answer the questions they’re actually asking. Wait. What? Seek to understand. Try to actually be helpful. Sure, it may feel like a waste and even a pain, at times, but it’s an investment – you don’t know who’s watching, you don’t know who’s listening, you don’t know whose help you’ll need or when you’ll need it most. Besides you impress no one by being pompous. That only shows others you’re not as impressive as you mistakenly think you are.

E.A.G.E.R. for the New Year

Here’s a little exercise:

  • For each of the five categories listed – Enthusiasm, Agility, Growth, Ease, Responsiveness – or for any other or additional categories you’d like to include, rate yourself on a scale of 1-10 (10=already excellent; 1=embarrassingly not). These are your ‘EAGER 1a’ baseline ratings – where you currently are (or believe yourself to be).

E.A.G.E.R. for the New Year – Step 1

  • Add another column, and in that column add 2 points to each of your baseline ratings. (So if you gave yourself a ‘responsiveness’ rating of 7, put a 9 (7+2) in the corresponding box.) These are your ‘EAGER 2b’ intention scores (‘2b’ – ‘to BE’ – clever, right?!) and will help stimulate your imagination for what ‘could be’ for yourself and those around you.

E.A.G.E.R. for the New Year – Step 2

  • Next, list out 3 or 4 specific steps you can take to achieve your EAGER 2b ratings. (Would it be too much to call these your EAGER 2c – ‘to SEE’ – scores?!)

E.A.G.E.R. for the New Year – Step 3

  •  Save your spreadsheet, create a recurring task in your calendar to review your progress monthly, and then do so without fail.

Putting the ‘New’ in New Year

As Margaret J. Wheatley said, “Without reflection, we go blindly on our way, creating more unintended consequences, and failing to achieve anything useful.”

Hopefully, that’s reason enough for all this, but if not, just let me know.


Having Been a Polished Man

Barry Zweibel is a polished man.

As many of you know, I participated in the Polished Man project – an effort to raise awareness about violence against children. This is an update on how the effort went.

  • more than 60,000 men participated, worldwide
  • almost $1,000,000 was raised

All funds raised through Polished Man are channeled into trauma recovery and trauma prevention programs for children who have suffered or are at risk of suffering violence globally. These include YGAP impact entrepreneurs running ventures that reduce violence against children or provide emergency relief to those that have fallen victims to physical and/or sexual violence. Funds are also channeled into some incredible work being carried out by the Australian Childhood Foundation, Hagar International, the New York Centre for Children and World Vision.

To those that participated directly, or indirectly – or offered your support to me, personally – thank you.

I’m a Polished Man

barry zweibel is a polished manHere’s a fun little share with a very serious message beneath it

I’m a Polished Man.

That means, for the month of October, I’m paintingd one of my fingernails to raise raising awareness for the one in five children affected by physical and/or sexual violence before the age of 18.

The idea is that people will notice, ask about it, and enable a conversation about better protecting society’s most vulnerable to the abuses of adults – kids.

Did you know that 90% of all sexual violence against children is perpetrated by men?

Did you know that 150 million girls and 73 million boys under 18 have experienced sexual violence?

I didn’t.

Now while The Polished Man is designed to be a fundraising event, I’m not asking you for a donation. I just want you – as adult men and women – to know these shocking statistics. Then, whatever you feel you need to do (or not do) next is fine by me.

  • But fellas, should you want to paint a fingernail of your own in support of the cause, excellent! (Send me a photo!)
  • And, ladies, should you want to encourage a guy you know to support the cause, that’d be great, too! (And also send me a photo!)
  • Hey, if you just want to mock my masculinity, have at it! (Just be creative about it!)
  • And should you want to support my campaign, here’s the link to my donations page:

If you can help me spread the word, though – in person, by phone, on Facebook, LinkedIn, via Tweets, Instagram (hashtag #polishedman)…or with a small donation – please KNOW I’ll appreciate it, greatly.

Andthank you for treating your kids with the respect they deserve.


Workplace Civility and the Lack Thereof

file0001257808786Today’s word is “civility.”And today’s question is, “How civil are you, Friend?”

What is Civility?

“Civility is claiming and caring for one’s identity, needs and beliefs without degrading someone else’s in the process.”

So say Tomas Spath and Cassandra Dahnke, Founders of the Institute for Civility in Government. “Civility is about more than just politeness, although politeness is a necessary first step,” they say. “It is about disagreeing without disrespect, seeking common ground as a starting point for dialogue about differences, listening past one’s preconceptions, and teaching others to do the same. Civility is the hard work of staying present even with those with whom we have deep-rooted and fierce disagreements. But it is political, too, in the sense that it is about negotiating interpersonal power such that everyone’s voice is heard, and nobody’s is ignored.”

  • disagreeing without disrespect
  • seeking common ground
  • listening past one’s preconceptions
  • staying present
  • everyone’s voice is heard, and nobody is ignored

To quote Oliver Twist, “Please, sir, may I have some more?”

Civility and Conflict Management

The ability to manage conflict is as important as it is in the because of a decided lack of civility in the workplace. Conflict management skills are what help mop up the mess caused by incivility.

Katrina Plourde, Human Resources Manager at the Westerville Public Library, articulated the distinction between civility and incivility as such:


Which brings us back to the question of the day: “How civil are YOU, Friend?”

Incivility is on the Rise

According to Rex W. Huppke (Chicago Tribune, 8/14/2016, section 2, page 3), “Recent studies show that the number of people experiencing incivility at work has doubled over the past two decades, an odd trend when you consider the increased focus many companies have placed on dealing with harassment and workplace bullying.” He goes on to discuss a recent paper by associate professor Russell Johnson at Michigan State University:

“Incivility, does not involve openly hostile behavior, threats, or sabotage. As such, incivility is more benign and does not warrant the same legal attention or formal sanctions as other forms of mistreatment. Yet, it is a relatively frequent low-intensity negative behavior that has a substantial impact on employees.”

• relatively frequent
• negative behavior
• has a substantial impact

Johnson’s view is that incivility both causes, and is caused by, mental fatigue, which makes us all more susceptible to becoming a ‘victim’ of incivility, and all-too-often transforms us from ‘victims’ of of incivility to ‘perpetrators’ of incivility. Furthermore, “because incivility reflects a mild form of mistreatment that is likely to go unpunished…and can easily denied and therefore excused, it occurs more frequently than other forms of mistreatment.”

• incivility both causes, and is caused by, mental fatigue
• we are all-too-often transformed from ‘victims’ of incivility into ‘perpetrators’ of it
• incivility often goes unpunished
• it occurs more frequently than other forms of mistreatment

In other words, Pogo fans, “We have met the enemy and he is us.”

What to do about incivility?

Huppke suggests that since mental fatigue plays such a large role in the spread of incivility, it’s important to keep mentally fresh (and refreshed) by getting enough sleep and taking occasional breaks to clear your head and recharge. He also says that we could make a point of reminding ourselves (and others) – with a sign on your cubicle wall or a small strip of paper taped to your computer screen to “Be Civil.”

• keep mentally fresh
• get enough sleep
• take occasional breaks
• “Be Civil.”

Which brings us back, once more, to the question of the day: “How civil ARE you, Friend?”