Ignoring- A Conflict Management Technique
Engineering Leader at Ericsson
I was working in a volunteer organization for Management and Leadership. I was the president and next in line to me was an ultra-confident colleague. This person was in charge of arranging meetings on a regular basis and informing the group about the time and location. The meetings were taking place nicely and there hadn't been any issues with them. He really took command of the position, yet there was no cooperation. In fact, I wasn't actually being informed of these meetings, even when I repeatedly asked to be. Generally, the president and second in line have to collaborate with each other, coming up with agendas for the meetings, but in this case, because this person wanted to run the whole show by himself, he decided it best to leave me out of processes as much as possible.
I referenced the four quadrants of Negotiation Conflict Styles in order to understand how to respond to this conflict. They four areas are: Direct the person (competing / forcing); Collaborate with the person (confronting the problem); Cooperate with the person (compromising / accommodating); Ignore the person (withdrawing / avoiding). This person did not want to cooperate nor collaborate with me, the lead of the group, so I crossed those approaches off the list. I already had the title of president and was looked to by the rest of the group to direct this individual, but he was unresponsive to authoritative action. Therefore, I took the route to ignore this person.
"I thought that by ignoring his actions I would be able to keep the show moving." I didn't want to quit and I didn't want to create a situation of constant conflict (because this person thrived on conflict) so I simply ignored what he did. This decision was also a reflection of my personality. I am the complete opposite of this man, I don't like conflict. This, too, isn't good- and it something that I have to work on- yet my first reaction to conflict is to get out of it as quickly as possible. So after trying to implement the alternative quadrants, the ignore quadrant was my best option.
This problematic person had no self-introspection. He wasn't aware of the effect he was having on everyone in the group. And even when I addressed him directly about the issue he did not make any changes. If this was a business organization I would have taken matters to senior management. Companies usually have improvement programs for people who are not cooperating or performing well.
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