Sandy McMullen has started a series “Burning MBTI Questions Answered” on her Personality Plus in Business blog. The current question deals with a conflict between two team members. Given the level of information in the question, Sandy does a great job of offering a framework in which to think about a solution, rather than trying to offer a concrete solution. I’m learning so much about Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) from reading her essays.
As she points out near the end of the article, maybe a typology doesn’t offer the best way to resolve the issue in this team. On reading this, two related approaches occurred to me spontaneoulsy: the first from Moreno’s theory of roles, the second from Rosenberg’s non-violent communication.
In Role Theory, many of the problems in the workplace occur because people have unpoken expectations of their colleagues. There’s no need to mention these expectations, since “everyone knows …”. However, the other person, operating from a different mindset and, possibly, personality, doesn’t know what is expected of them. Simply surfacing these expectations and addressing them gets rid of most conflicts. Responses to expectations fall into three categories:
- “I’m doing that already, good to know it’s important to you.”
- “That’s news! … Now that I know, I’ll take it on board.”
- “Grow up! That’ll only happen in your dreams!”
The third response is best understood as the starting point for a negotiation.
Non-Violent Communication (NVC) gets to the same place from a different starting point. Instead of expectations, it focuses on needs and strategies to meet those needs. In many a team conflict, the needs of one or more parties are not being met. NVC provides a framework for each person to identify their needs and also the strategies they follow to meet their needs. It’s important to separate these two. For example, I may have a need for Connection and choose to fulfill it (my strategy) by discussing my work with a particular colleague. If that person is not interested, then tension is predictable.
I’m looking forward to learning more from the rest of the discussion on this blog post over at Sandy’s blog.