How Conflict at work and Identity can go together

September 11th, 2017 by Patricia Jehle Leave a reply »

Belonging, Identity and Conflict

One of the most important concepts for success in life is having a secure identity that you accept and feel positive about. The other concept is that each of us need to feel that we belong somewhere. Without those two foundational building blocks in place we are going to crash and burn in our life journeys. One of the biggest threats to healthy self-identities and to the security of belonging is conflict.

Today I want to talk briefly about each concept ad then give some pointers at the end that may be of help for navigating the ups and downs of life.

Got conflict?

Identity: I am who I am and it is enough.

Identity is our biggest asset for success, when it is healthy. It is, according to researcher and author Brené Brown, the secure knowledge that I am enough, right now and that I don’t have to strive to be enough. I am worthy of love and admiration now, not if or when x, y or z happen or are accomplished. It goes with belonging, but is separate because identity is needed for a healthy life of belonging.

Belonging, but not trying to “fit in”

Belonging has nothing to do with striving to fit. It is the opposite: I belong because of who I am (which is enough). Fitting in means I must change to be accepted. When this comes to family and our social life we need to first feel we are enough and then take that scary step to authentically be ourselves, so others can accept our REAL selves. Then we have the belonging that we need to succeed in life.

 

What about belonging at work?

Belonging at work can be very hard to have because often people expect us to change to the work culture and to the expectations of the boss. Depending on the level of change (or fitting in), it may be not such a large compromise for our identities. But sometimes it goes too far and affects our identities. This is when we need to have integrity and say where our boundaries lie.

 

Of course, there is conflict at work

Sometimes when we set boundaries, we create conflicts. But a lot of conflicts are created by the work systems, by bosses, by changes that have only partially been carried out. The reasons are myriad. But conflict at work often wreaks havoc on our identities and causes us not to feel that we belong.

 

So, what can we do at work when there is conflict?

1) Know who you are and how you feel about the situation(s)- reflection is REQUIRED. Ask yourself:

  • What’s happening?
  • How am I affected (how am I feeling, how do I react?)?
  • Are there triggers that I react to and how can I avoid these?

2) Control your responses. Do not let your emotions rule you, but still know what your emotions are. This is part of emotional intelligence (great book by Daniel Goleman) Ask yourself:

  • Are my emotions getting in my way of seeing what is really happening?
  • What is controlling me right now, my emotional (read lizard part) or my logical part of my brain?
  • Am I reacting or am I being proactive and looking for solutions?

3) If all else fails, give yourself a time out. Don’t let the emotions control you, and if you think they are, take a break. Take a walk. Practice some breathing.

4) Avoid “us vs. them”, if you can. You should make alliances, make friends at work. Go for that belonging need that I wrote of above. When you feel like you can be your authentic (and worthy) self, you can reach out and make friendships at work. Then you will belong. This does two things:

  • Belonging helps you to be more successful and
  • Belonging creates a team atmosphere- there are no longer sides, but there is “us”.

 

Three of these points are taken from: https://hbr.org/2017/07/a-3-step-process-to-break-a-cycle-of-frustration-stress-and-fighting-at-work?utm_content=buffera5d68&utm_medium=social&utm_source=linkedin.com&utm_campaign=buffer

If there is anything I want you to take away from todays blog it’s this: you are enough and you are worthy of belonging: at work, at home and with your friends.

Have a very successful week of being enough and belonging- use those conflicts to learn and become more aware of the real you.

Patricia Jehle

www.jehle-coaching.com

patricia@jehle-coaching.com

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