Being Opposites Doesn’t Mean Opposition at Work

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Workplace conflicts are generally the result of differences caused by contrasting behavioral styles, personality types, and opinions or ideas. Things often escalate because neither party is willing to acknowledge the benefits that accompany these different approaches.

For example, a leader who is direct and bold often prefers a more energetic pace while a leader who is tactful and cautious will likely prefer a calmer environment. One is expecting a quick turnaround on projects while the other is seeking reliable outcomes. Neither is wrong, just different.

An energetic leader’s impatience at a cautious leader’s pace, will overlook the value of telling him how urgent the deadlines really are. A cautious leader who resents his energetic boss for her lack of attention to details so she can move quickly, will fail to negotiate deadlines that both can live with.

If leaders with opposite perspectives would simply learn how to manage challenges and crises together they could benefit from the strengths each brings to the situation. An upset client is probably better handled by an extroverted leader while the introverted one could work behind the scenes to analyze and solve what precipitated the problem in the first place.

Pointing out the potential roadblocks of working with a challenging co-worker or boss is a good place to start. By naming differences it’s possible to also recognize the potential benefits that occur when we don't see things the same way. Those discoveries can be channeled toward opportunities to collaborate instead of confronting each other every time differences emerge.

We can’t change who we are as leaders. Yes, we can become more self-aware and savvy at flexing our behaviors, but how we think and relate won’t change very much. That’s why we need to understand our differences and how to leverage them.

Being opposites at work shouldn’t automatically mean opposition.

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Ken Byler
Ken Byler is Principal and Founder of Higher Ground Consulting Group, LLC, a Souderton, Pennsylvania firm that has provided leadership training, coaching, and facilitation services since 2002. He is an Authorized Partner for Everything DiSC®, The Five Behaviors of a Cohesive Team™, and PXT Select™ all registered trademarks of John Wiley & Sons, Inc.