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Recently, I delivered a leadership program for senior leaders of a financial institution
One of the sessions was on “Managing conflicts at workplace”
There was a lot of active engagement during the session on reasons for conflicts :
Difference of opinions
Difference of perceptions
Difference in expectations
Ofcourse, all this is because we are different and unique individuals with different viewpoints
But the problem is when we are NOT open to other people’s ideas and opinions
That’s when conflicts happen
But that’s pretty obvious, right ?
But there is a hidden reason for conflicts at workplace
Something which many leaders are not aware of..
Something which happens unconsciously..
You know what it is ?
When your values don't match with the values of the other person
This is by far one of the least understood reasons for conflicts
Let me illustrate with an example
Let’s say one of your core values is independence
And my value is teamwork
This could create a possible value conflict
Since you value independence, I might perceive that you are not a good team player
I might perceive “teamwork” is your areas of improvement
But that’s not true, because it’s not that you can’t work in teams
It’s just that you value independence more
And this can create friction between us on a daily basis
And the challenge is that neither you or me will know the reason behind this
We will try to find faults with each other and try to fix each other
This also happens at an organizational level, when your personal values don’t align with what organizational values
Let me give an example of this as well
Let’s say your organization values discipline a lot
They expect people to follow rules strictly
Whereas one of your core values is freedom, which can create a potential conflict
The way this will manifest is that you might find it difficult to adjust in a discipline-driven culture or you might not be able to perform at your optimum level
We see behavior and actions. We can’t see values
Not being aware of your own values or the value of other person can lead to such conflicts
The interesting part..
There's no right or wrong here
Our values don’t match
You value something, I value something else
That’s it !
And as you can see, value conflicts are not just applicable to workplace
These play out equally in personal lives as well and could impact personal relationships
So here are some reflections and actions you can take :
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