Is conflict in the workplace inevitable? Yes. But should we be trying to avoid and resolve all conflict? No!
Conflict comes from our differences in what we believe, how we think, and how we feel. It comes from differences in how we view ourselves and how we view the world.
Healthy conflict is the “secret sauce” to making an exceptional company. Healthy conflict leads to great dialogue, new thinking, and better financial results.
Unhealthy conflict leads to anger, bullying, disconnect, and silence. It leads to poor retention, burnout, and doing things “the way they’ve always been done”.
So how do we make the transformation from unhealthy to healthy conflict and leverage conflict to our advantage?
Join retired Chairman of Microsoft Europe / Olympic mental coach Jan Mühlfeit and top-rated CEO / Executive Coach Lisa Christen as they share their science-based approaches to making conflict a great tool for success in your team.
For the full transcript:
Jan Muhlfeit 00:01
All right, we are live, ladies and gentlemen, dear friends Good evening. We are broadcasting from stream yard today, as always in English area at LinkedIn, and YouTube, if you can put in comments that you can see us and you can hear us that would be great. Because Lisa was struggling a bit with the computer.
Lisa Christen 00:31
I’m always fully prepared ready five minutes early, I have to live up to my Swiss heritage.
Jan Muhlfeit 00:38
Charm. Finnish friend is here. Good evening from Finland. Perfect. So far both working. He’s checking it for us for both like LinkedIn and YouTube output also just linked in only you know if it works.
Lisa Christen 00:57
And I have to say tonight, tonight is such a great topic because we’re talking about conflict and how to navigate conflict and make it work for you. And when I told my husband about this, he was like, great. Let me know when you figured that out.
Jan Muhlfeit 01:10
You have a lot of conflicts at home?
Lisa Christen 01:13
Jan Muhlfeit 01:15
we don’t have that many conflicts because my wife is always right. Look, if my wife is at home, I don’t need Google because my wife knows everything. You know, everything.
Lisa Christen 01:31
Happy wife, happy life. Listen, everybody. If there’s nothing else you take away from today, it’s that your wife is always right.
Jan Muhlfeit 01:39
Yeah. Okay, so guys, let’s start. Maybe I’ll ask, you know, Lisa, to kick it off. Because very often you know, conflict is perceived as something very negative. And conflict can be something very true to you know, foods for something which can, you know, create new movement and changes, you know, right, but I have a couple of you know, notes like some of the conflict I was in, and I was like, asked to solve, but I’ll ask Lisa to kick it off first.
Lisa Christen 02:17
Yeah, like, can’t wait to hear all these juicy stories of your intellect. Yeah, but you you said it spot on. I can’t tell everybody how much when I have new clients coming to me new businesses coming. The number one thing they come for is they say, we’re having conflict on the team, can you come and fix it? So we don’t have conflict anymore? And of course, my answer, which is maybe surprising, I say, Absolutely not. We don’t want to get rid of conflict. If everybody agrees too much. And there’s no conflict, you have groupthink, you have no diversity, you will lose in the marketplace. We need conflict, we need different ways of looking at things and thinking about things in order to move forward, make progress, be innovative, get the best ideas heard. Right. So actually, it’s a warning sign if you have no conflict, that someone’s probably repressing something that they’re not safe to speak up. So the real question that people should be asking is not how do I get rid of conflict? It’s how do I make conflict useful? How do I make it work for our team instead of against us? Right? So I’m actually very interested Jan to hear all of your stories. But maybe maybe I’ll start off with just a simple tip about what is the most common cause of conflict. And it’s not what people think, because most people say, I’m rational, I show up to business, I put my emotions aside, and I show up with all rational brain, you know, I’m here for business and businesses business. It’s not the case, we can’t do that our human brains work in a certain way and our emotions come up first, right? And so what actually happens when there’s a lot of conflict is people are feeling, you know, some kind of an expertise is being questioned of mine. Like I shouldn’t be recognized as the expert and someone else is questioning what I’m saying, I better go double down on how smart and how right I am. So most of the time, the conflict is not actually about the content at all. It’s not usually rational at all. It’s emotional. It’s in our fear based part of our brains. And we feel we need to protect we don’t want to look stupid, we don’t want to look, you know, like we’re not the smartest, not the most up to date. And so we’re just there to protect So my number one tip if you want to make conflict de escalated, go for bad conflict and helpful and useful conflict is to make sure that you’re not making anybody feel wrong or stupid. So I’m gonna leave that in Your minds, I’ll plant a few more seeds like that. But maybe Jan you could tell us about a time when you had conflict. I also want to know when it didn’t work, like when you tried to solve it, and it didn’t go well.
Jan Muhlfeit 05:09
Sure. Well, first of all, if you let’s look, I’m always, you know, looking into the history. Okay, so let’s look into the history of the history of the conflicts. Okay. I mean, in the past, if, you know, you were like, there was some, you know, big conflict that there was some, you know, tribe say, okay, and there was some big conflict that that party, which, you know, lost, that was probably pushed out of the group. And that meant, you know, basically, hey, I’m dying, you know, right. So we’re deeply in us, we have a fear to lose, if we have a conflict, we sometimes push some stupid things very often we’re driven by our emotions, rather than about our, you know, rational part of the brain. So we have fear to lose, this is it in each and every one of us, there is a fear to lose. Okay, so how can we find courage to do Win Win agreement, because those are only like, if there’s a win win. This is the only long term agreement, if you wanted to read more seven habits of the most effective people from Stephen Covey, he talks about it a lot, you know, right. And you can do it, it’s a lot of work to create, you know, Win Win agreement, but only win win agreement is sustainable. For debt, you obviously need to understand yourself. So there needs to be high self awareness, but you need to understand the other party, because each and every one of you, you know, on the call, we have a different views on ourselves, on the other people and on the whole world. It’s called, you know, paradigm, okay. And if there is a conflict, and there is like, one ego against the other ego, like one monkey against the other monkey, guess what, you know, there is no agreement and we just fight, we just fight you know, right. So once we move to like, Okay, I will use more my neocortex my logical part of the brain, and I will do the same thing, maybe we can find something and in my view, you need to start with this with the with the smallest common denominator, that there is something small will really can agree, okay. And you will start from that small, you know, piece, you will start to create, step by step, you will start to create trust, okay? Once you have that small piece where you can agree, you can figure out, hey, let’s agree on what we disagree, okay. But you still will be because you agree on something, you will start to trust each other, and you will be on the logical level. Okay? And once you have it, you can, you know, like, create a framework, okay, can we work like step by step on the strategy, how we can, you know, solve it, and maybe we can bring somebody else we both trust, you know, to bring, you know, resolution, okay? Because the trust is based on predictability the other party, you may have a conflict me and Lisa, we may have a conflict, we may disagree with each other. But because we know each other for some time, we basically trust to each other, and we, that’s why we can build on on that, okay. And there is another piece because emotions are contagious once you will start to build that trust, you know, the other person or other other people, other group will mirror you more or less. Okay, I give you probably the biggest conflict I was, you know, in the really biggest in my life. And the most expensive was, you know, Microsoft was Microsoft’s case against European Commission. Okay. Very bad PR around them. It looks like they were not saying Microsoft against DG, you know, Director General competition, but it’ll say Microsoft against Europe to create like media create much more like, hey, you know, we are enemies, whatever. And Microsoft lost that case. And we needed to settle the case. And when we started to negotiate with European Commission, we, we didn’t trust them. They didn’t trust us. Okay. What was what was in that case? common enemy? First of all, they said, hey, yeah, and you are from small country, if you will be like from Germany or France or UK, that will not work. Okay. Because they are usually there’s some history in Europe, but you are from small country, you didn’t have many conflicts like Czech Republic. It’s good. You know, you are chairman. So it’s good, you know, right. So I started to be really involved and what we created with my team, we created basically kind of the common denominator with European Commission, and that was future of Europe. and future of European competitiveness, education and so on. I basically said, Let’s talk win win we are here for long term, and you know, we will be successful in Europe only is if Europe will be successful on the global market. Okay. And now we started to create this narrative, and we start to believe each other much more, we were supposed to pay 11 billion fine, you know, to European Commission, we pay a little bit, you know, more than 2 billion. And after, like three years, I became a trusted adviser of European Commission for Higher Education. That’s how, you know, there was a really big conflict. That’s how big conflict, can in my view, that’s how big conflict can can really be solved, you know, right, and you need to create this common denominator. And then it’s about it’s about chemistry, because if me and Lisa will agree on some small thing. That means that, you know, we will generate some serotonin and oxytocin on the trust, you know, level and work from there, you know, like, on the end, it’s much, much better, and then it’s much harder for your monkey to do that emotion hijack, if you disagree, you will disagree, but it will be more logical. The issue is, if we disagree, and it’s emotional, we believe we are right, and the other the other part is more or less enemy, you know, right. There’s, there’s no way like, you know, through you cannot make good deal through your, you know, fully negative emotions. If you have like positive emotion, you both are happy afterwards. That’s fine, you know, right. But you cannot The monkey is not monkey is there to enable you to survive, but not negotiate good deal, you know, like, good long term, you know, sustainable deal. So that’s kind of, you know, from my side.
Lisa Christen 11:56
Yeah. But again, that’s exactly it. So most of the time, people think about conflict, as in we’re against each other. And what you’ve said is exactly what everyone needs to keep in mind. It’s not that we’re against each other, we need to turn and work together side by side towards a common problem that we have. Right? And one of the best things we can do is find things we have in common. So often, you we go in trying to make the other person wrong or trying to prove our point, I’m right, let me find another rational way to show you how right I am. This is what people think, oh, that person must not get why I’m right. So let me just give another fact about why I’m right. Please, abort does not work. Think about what’s going on for the other person, what’s going on for me? And what am I wanting? What’s the other person going through? And then how do we turn together to solve together towards this common problem that we have? I would also say I mean, I see tons of conflicts, very simple case. Someone comes in and ask their boss for a raise, I’m coaching the boss and the boss is going, Not given this person a raise. How do I have a nice conversation? I don’t want to lose the person. But we’re in a little bit of a conflict. And I said, Okay, what do you have in common? So perfect, John, just what you said, What do you have in common? Well, she thinks this is fair. And I think this is fair. And I said, Great. You both want fairness. You both have a common goal of finding a fair resolution, start talking about what you have in common talk about fairness, talk about how you define fairness, talk about creative solutions, so that both parties walk away feeling that was fair, does not mean she got the pay raise. But it does mean she walked away, because they talked about how they could architect her work to maybe get towards the pay raise and how she could maybe have some time off or get a new interesting project, right. And then all of that felt fair, because that’s what they were both actually seeking. So this is another challenge that what most people do is they’re fighting about something. But what they don’t realize is that to solve it, you don’t actually want to talk about the conflict that’s presenting, you want to talk about it in a bigger picture. So and that’s really hard to do, that’s really hard to like, zoom out and say, but what are we really talking about here? Right? I’m working with some founders who are saying, Yeah, well, they have the CEO has a little bit more shares than I do. And but I feel like I’m doing more of the work. So I’m not really sure if the compensation is set up properly. But I’m really resentful every time I go into a meeting, and I see that he’s not working as hard as I am. That’s a conflict, right? So how do we work through what’s the right amount of work? How would you feel recognized? Maybe it’s not shares, we’re not really talking about shares. We’re talking about how do you get recognized or how do we ask the other person to do more work? So again, whatever you think is the presenting problem is often not it’s just a distraction. And you need to go deeper and think what’s really going on here? And solve at that core problem.
Jan Muhlfeit 15:05
Exactly. Very often we are like stuck, it’s kind of the fix, you know, mindset, we are stuck with the problem imagine, there are two parties, and we work together, say, 10 years already we are working together. And more or less, it was good. And suddenly, we have a really some big, big issue. There’s a one monkey against the other monkey in the other brain. So how can you solve what Lisa said, kind of be, you know, from the negative zoom in to the positive zoom out. Zoom out. Take your paper and put in the center of that paper, the conflict, whatever is the conflict, it can be the shares, okay. And around that put, everything, which we build together, we were working a lot of, you know, together on different projects, and whatever, you know, different we brought different products to the market or whatever, and you will see, and suddenly your brain, well, what do you need to do in those conflicts, you need to start like logic against the logic, you need to move from one monkey to the logic and the other monkey to the logic. And this piece of the paper can help you because you will realize, okay, there’s so many things we did together. So there is a small piece, which we need to solve, let’s look what we did in the past. And let’s let’s you know, work from that let’s you know, work from the, from the trust and how we can, you know, solve it. And as you as you rightly said, maybe it’s not the number of the shares, it may be recognition, you know, right? Because everybody, if you take the muscle of pyramid of the of the needs, it’s basically, you know, recognition and self recognition. And on the on the top, it’s like, you know, the self actualization that you you have really, your job is, you know, your, your meaning, right? So, the other interesting thing, what Lisa said about conflict, so, if there are like two people in the same room, and they agree with each other all the time, probably one of them is redundant, maybe both of them, okay? Because, honestly, I mean, it’s like, it’s about diversity, okay. And diversity as such is great, because you can you you, if everybody would think like, okay, and there’s one thing which, which I did when I was like 30-35 years old, I have a tendency to hire people with a similar mindset like me, okay. That would be like extroverts with good strategy, whatever, you know, like ENTJ in Myers-Briggs, ENTJ’s, they have a lot of good things, but they have couple of, you know, caveats. Number one in ENTJ’s, they think they are always right. That’s number one. Okay. Number two ENTJs are hiring usually ENTJs. For those of you who don’t know, what is Myers Briggs, it’s like taxonomy, whether you are an extrovert or introvert how you work with information and stuff, like, it’s basically tests like the personality. And once I realized, hey, it’s, in fact good to have people with a different opinion, they’ll challenge you, they give you a different, you know, feedback, right? So, it is good, because and one thing is like, you know, diversity in your group or in your team, and the other, this is the first step, to have a diverse group. And then the second step is how you include like, different opinions together. So there is a synergy, which means that one plus one is more than two, you know, you know what I mean, right? There is there is there is a simple, you know, synergy. And I think it takes up a lot of leadership, you know, right? And like conflict resolution to me, it’s not like, Hey, okay, I will, you know, increase your salary, your salary, and you will, you know, you will be fine, no, conflict resolution is real, like, win win. And it’s even a win for the company or for the team, you know, right. To move you on the on the next level. That’s, that’s kind of what I think about the conflict.
Lisa Christen 19:02
Yeah. So yeah, as you were saying, when we’re sitting in meetings, and we’re, you know, the monkey part of your brain, I love that you call it that the monkey part of your brain is saying, No, defend why that person shouldn’t be adding something, why that person doesn’t understand the exact thing. And then all I’m gonna say is everybody just take a breath. And ask yourself, this is how we’re going to work with your brain. Basically, Jan and I are going to hack your brains, we’re going to tell you how to work with the neuroscience of your brain. So you’re here, you want to breed that out, flip yourself to here, which is where you can connect with other people where you can be curious where it can you can be expansive and innovative. And you’re gonna say what could be 10% true about what that person just said?
Jan Muhlfeit 19:47
Exactly. Step by step. Yeah.
Lisa Christen 19:50
Exactly. You don’t 90% of it is probably garbage. Okay, so I went out the window, but what can be 10% True, and I want some times have my coachees just memorize a sentence where the first time you open your mouth, you say, what I like about that is, and you find something interesting something you like about it something that’s true. And from there, that’s where you’re finding that level of agreement or that level of connection that it doesn’t feel like a no versus a no, it feels like a yes-and, right. So the example I always give it sticks in my head. Someone once said The sky is purple. Well, all of us on the call today, no, the sky is now purple. So you would say no, the sky is blue. If you want to be in a conflict, if you want to use the diversity of what the person just said, you think, what’s 10% true about that? Oh, that’s interesting. The sky does change colors throughout the day, sunrise, sunset, right clouds. So you could say, oh, wow, you’re right. The sky can shift in colors. Yeah, that reminds me of for this product, we could have something shifting, right. So you find even if it’s so, so wrong, you can always find some truth and find a way to say yes. And agree with that. And then expand it along. Because if you hear a yes, and someone’s going, Yes, I see what you mean. Yes. That’s cool. Yes, that makes sense. I say to my daughters, my daughters say, Can we get dessert? Mom? Can we have dessert? Mom? I say yes. Tomorrow we’re going to have those cookies. Instead of saying no, I’ve said yes. But for tomorrow. And that’s how we can negotiate a little bit of conflict and turn it into a positive experience. So we don’t go back into our monkeys fighting against each other mode. So yes.
Jan Muhlfeit 21:51
Yeah. And it takes a bit time. For example, if you are at a meeting, it’s always good to build first, some bonds, maybe have some small talk or some you know, game or whatever, what do you need to do? Basically, you and if you really try to get what is best in the group, you wanna to create the team flow, okay? So that not only you are in the flow for a moment, when it’s very tough, you try to solve tough problem, you know, right. But you are at your best you use your best talents, this is the flow, okay? But it takes some time to get you in the flow, because you need to shut down basically amygdala, the monkey, and it’s called, you know, high upper frontal cortex, like, you need to make sure that you everything else is shut down. And you’re like, you know, frontal cortex is working, you know, right in the in the floor. And it takes some time. It’s like, give you one example, those of you who are runners, it’s usually like kind of the tough experience, first 5-10 minutes, but after 15 minutes, it’s kind of the neutral. Then after 20 minutes you are in, it’s called runner’s high. But a runner’s high equals you know, flow basically, right? So you are there and then you run and you’re like you do enjoy, and that’s the same with the, with the mental activity. Okay? So if you if you try to solve something, there’s a conflict or whatever, you know, right? You you need to go really like step by step, if you go immediately do jump on it. I mean, it is quite natural, that your amygdala tries to protect you, right? saying, okay, because what is what is happening on your, you know, background on the, on your subconscious, it’s like, okay, if I will not talk now. And if I will not, you know, push back, then maybe I will not be promoted. Or, remember, amygdala is protecting your life, basically, it’s not about the life anymore, you know, right. But this is what evolution brought to us, you know, this is, this is what, so that’s another piece like, go, you know, step by step. And it’s even, like, if, if you have a conflict with your friends, it’s, you know, very normal to have a, you know, conflict and disagree with each other. Right? the only the only part of the lie where I don’t see huge progress, and where it’s very hard, you know, now to solve conflict is politics. You know, politics, it’s like, we go like, okay, let’s imagine let’s play the the model. Okay. Let’s have it I will be like left wing party, Alyssa will be right wing party, okay. Yeah, called opposition, which means that, by definition, we should not agree with each other. Come on, you know, we, our views are above, if we will disagree, we will not be, you know, very attractive for the media. We need to disagree by definition, you know, right. It’s hard. And that’s why you have not that much progress anymore in politics. And, you know, to me, democracy is the best system. What we need to figure out how we can move faster in democracy, because sometimes we spending so much in time and the circus, you know, not not being able to create some reasonable solution. Right?
Lisa Christen 25:13
Well, and that’s the thing. I love this with polarization. I mean, obviously, we’ve all experienced it, politics COVID, you know, tennis scandals, you name it, we see polarization happening everywhere. And really what’s happening is we’re feeling so much uncertainty, that we’re trying to cling to something certain, it’s the same thing that happens when we’re in conflict, we need to hold on to something we need to hold on to being right or smart are the things we knew from five years ago, they must still be true, because if they’re not, and so we really hold on to protect. And I think the biggest thing that we could do polarization politics, conflict in the workplace, is to let go of having to protect, right and I, we have a great note here that says, Yeah, but it takes a little bit of time, here’s a very easy trick, when you notice that you’re triggered, and you will feel it because you will sit up more, your heart will beat faster, your hands will go up, your palms are sweating, physiologically, it’ll change. Take a drink of water, give yourself a pause, do this. That gives your brain enough time to go. Don’t always feel you have to respond just because someone else is speaking at you. You set the pace, take a pause, give him a second, don’t be afraid of silence. So that’s interesting, what you’re saying, let me take a second to think about that. Right? You can have these phrases in your pocket ready, because you’re ready to instead of escalating the conflict, yeah, you can be ready to figure out how
Jan Muhlfeit 27:00
that is, whatever is your situation, okay? It’s, it’s the freedom of your choice, whether you’re going to react immediately, and that’s your monkey, okay? Or you will breathe in breathe out or whatever, you may say, Hey, let me think about that. And you will basically enlarge the gap between the stimuli and your reaction. That’s the way how you can move from the emotional reaction to the logical and more, you know, rational reaction. Right? I mean, emotions, it’s quite normal to have, you know, some reactions, but some, you know, emotions are not necessarily good for us. And maybe you may, you may, you know, say something, and you then you will be like, Oh, I’m sorry, I should not say whatever, you know, right. So, once you will have your, you know, amygdala, your monkey more under the control, it will be better, even like, how you will solve the conflict, and how you work with the other, the other people because you may you, you don’t look, if you wanted to learn something new, it’s usually, you know, from the people with different or, you know, diverse opinions, right? Because you if you want to learn something new, it’s like, hey, I need to challenge status quo. Okay. So when I started to learn neurobiology, and, you know, epigenetics, I learned in the school that the genes are genes, and you cannot do anything around it. And that’s what I thought still, like 10 years ago, because I was not the epigenetic, you know, students, whatever. But then I started to really learn from the from the different, you know, people with different opinion, and then you change, it’s like paradigm shift in your brain, saying, Hey, I’m responsible for 90% of my genes. Okay, I got it, you know, but what will happen with those genes? I’m on the point you know, right I’m on the point and I’m responsible because the way I think when I you know, live you know, what I say every every war will create new thought thought is creating, you know, emotion, what is emotion, energy in motion, you know, from my mobile area, and emotion will appear immediately on your you know, body, right? So, it has to, which means that each and every word, you may say, is influencing your genes, your you know, your life, right.
Lisa Christen 29:27
Yes. I mean, the other thing that we haven’t even talked about yet is how to know when it’s worth engaging in conflict. How do you know when it’s worth speaking out.
Jan Muhlfeit 29:36
That’s interesting you know. Hey, that’s, that’s interesting.
Lisa Christen 29:43
Yeah, go ahead tell me
Jan Muhlfeit 29:44
okay. I must say that very rarely, people will criticize me because of the of my, you know, content, what I’m sharing with them. What I’m talking about very rarely, okay. Sometimes that’s true, but it’s small things, but usually late Like my appearance that I talked too much by my hands, whatever, right? And like, to me, it’s a small thing. And for me, it makes no sense, you know, to like push back or whatever. Okay. And the other thing is sometimes I’m getting like, hey, Jan, what can you tell us where this data is coming from so I’m bringing some study, then another study, but I still there was some, you know, gentleman recently, and he wanted to explain what mean, what it means, out of the comfort zone and out of the comfort zone, I said, you should, you know, read a book about flow or you know, Steven Kotler the art of impossible explaining what is exactly the flow, because flow is, when you are out of the comfort zone, it’s clear, but he was still like, pushing back. Then he said, then he was like saying, Hey, you are demagogic, or whatever. And I said, Well, that makes no sense for me to you know, continue this discussion, right. So at some point, you know, look for me, I tell you what is helping, at least to me, I’m like, I want to work with the people who want to work with me, and I am absolutely fine. If it’s only 90% of the population on this planet. It doesn’t need to be 100%. Okay. Oh, maybe? I don’t know, you know what I mean? Right. And
Lisa Christen 31:21
I thought 90 was a good goal. Yeah.
Jan Muhlfeit 31:24
So you should not spend it. If it’s, if it’s productive conflict, you know, fine. Okay, let’s, let’s sorry, let’s talk about that. But if it’s unproductive, and then people like, look, I, if you will go. I am never like openly criticizing anybody on you know, social networks. That’s my kind of the number one. If I criticize something, I go always and I message that person. If I criticize, I criticize the activity, not the person at least like, you know, I’m mindful, it may maybe happen sometimes. But that’s the key. Okay? But if somebody is like, not criticizing the content and goes like, you really look stupid, because you are using too much of your hands. Fine. Don’t look at me, why you? Why you bother and why we spend time on YouTube watching Jan, it makes no sense to me, you know, right. If you wanted to say like, stay then that’s fine.
Lisa Christen 32:23
Yeah. Just putting some handcuffs on.
Jan Muhlfeit 32:26
It’s giving me energy. I was trained by the gentleman from BBC, like, almost 30 years ago. And he said, Yeah, it’s crazy. What do you do you need to stay like, really, like, there was a moderator from the BBC. And I said, I agree everything with you, but my hand there’s no way.
Lisa Christen 32:44
You need to be you. But this is exactly.
Jan Muhlfeit 32:48
Yeah. That’s in general on kind of the, what kind of the conflicts you know, you should you should like engage in and what kind of contribution not engage. And then obviously, the other thing is, where you can also act as a mediator to bring like, there is a conflict in the group. And you can be that common denominator, bring, you know, people together, okay, what I usually do, I’m like, Okay, should we should be like, John and and say, Eric. Okay. I’m like, Okay, John, and, Eric, let’s talk about our, you know, common experience when we were drinking somewhere, whatever, like, having a good time and Microsoft path or somewhere else, and you go and step by step again, you know, amygdala goes down, you know, logic goes up, and they start to toe and said, Hey, this is stupid, right? I mean, I think it’s harder, like, you know, if the women are fighting, it’s really tough. I was never engaged in this. You may tell me. Even if men are fighting men, they can fight it, like physically fight. And in five minutes, it’s fine. Okay. Hey, it’s good. Because, you know, men are really like hunters, you know, right. And for us, even if there’s a little bit blood doesn’t matter.
Lisa Christen 34:15
Well, I think there’s a new era coming where everyone is more in touch with their what they’re feeling. And so men as well, I think a lot of it was just that men were told you’re not allowed to have your emotions showing. I don’t know that. That actually means they didn’t have emotions. So we have a big
Jan Muhlfeit 34:37
Lisa. Did you really mentioned COVID?
Lisa Christen 34:40
Do you want to bring this up? Yeah. And we can address
Jan Muhlfeit 34:42
Okay yeah, sure. Sure. Sure. I will. I didn’t realize that Lisa talked about you know, COVID But maybe you may remember
Lisa Christen 34:49
It’s a very sensitive theme and had to pass through emotional things according to the disease trying to stay between rational fear Oh, Okay. Ah, this is a great question, though. And it is a part of the theme, because actually what we haven’t discussed, we have so many things we could talk about with conflict is internal conflict. Conflict is not always with someone else. You also have it face internal conflicts. And so you’re noticing, oh my gosh, okay, COVID, I have all these feelings about what’s going on. And I’m trying to stay rational and I’m trying not to stay stress. And here’s the big thing. It actually ties exactly to what Jan was just saying, oh, you know, men are tough. And I’m saying, Hold on. Many of us learned the appropriate way to deal with emotions is to block them to use mental strength. And I put them aside. And actually, sometimes we need to lean into them and have a bit of curiosity. What’s really going on with the fear what’s really going on with the conflict, I coached. I coached a woman today true story, she’s going okay, do I go for the next big promotion? Do I go for this other job? What should I do? And by the end of the conversation, I when we when I said get back in touch with what who you really are and what you really want, by the end of the conversation. It was like, I don’t want either of these jobs. I don’t even want a corporate job at all. Like holy macaroni, but because she had always ignored emotions went for what made sense. What was the next progression? What was logical, and ignoring our emotions means maybe you can tell yourself that you’re okay here, but the rest of your body knows that you’re not really okay. And that’s why you’re still feeling fear, you haven’t quite dealt with it. I don’t, I can’t remember if I shared publicly, but I’m happy to share my sort of journey with COVID. I was super scared to get COVID Not because I thought I would get sick with COVID. But I was very worried about long COVID. So I was very worried I would somehow get COVID and be very tired for like six months or a year I heard it was happening to healthy young women. And I was and I wouldn’t face it. I just was kind of scared all the time. And finally, at some point, I had to face this and I had to have conversations with my husband about what you know, when we start going out to restaurants and things like that. And I actually finally faced the fear went in said, Why am I worried about long COVID. And it turns out, totally, I wouldn’t have thought about it. But when I moved to Switzerland, it was very difficult for me. And I had some trouble. And I noticed that I was quite lethargic, I didn’t go out as much I didn’t see people. And it was a very, like, traumatizing to the body, like I had a very hard time adjusting. And so in my body, my body was telling me if you have long COVID, it’s going to be like that other time. And that other time was terrible. So actually, my fear was just repeating how hard it was when I moved to Switzerland. And once I realized that because I went with curiosity, what’s my emotion, what’s really going on with the fear? I was like, Oh, hey, actually, that wasn’t so bad. Obviously, I came out the other side, and I’m fine. And then after that, I had no more fear of COVID. But that was my journey, because instead of being mentally tough and saying, I don’t care, and instead of just like crying in a corner at home, I want it to go in with curiosity. And this is how you can also resolve internal conflict. Don’t run from it. Don’t try to rationalize don’t just make a pro and con list. Really go in and notice where am I stuck? Where am I feeling? Like I’m not where’s the uncertainty coming from? And use that to explore and find the wisdom in there?
Jan Muhlfeit 38:48
Because, yeah, your body’s giving you signals? Absolutely. For me, you know, COVID was because I was really like, I was in the you know that wall, when I got this depression 10 years ago, it was really bad. So, and it was much much worse. It’s similar like you but it was much, much worse experience. I was dead close to die, basically. Right. So when COVID came, I said, Okay, I have a lot of respect from for COVID a lot of respect because we didn’t know what was it and so on. But I should not be fearful because that fear would lower my immunity. Right? Because if that fear is for a long time, you know, like, if you ever fear and then it’s like, you know, anxiety, anxiety, and then it’s, you know, the stress, there’s a lot of cortisol generated, you know, in your brain, it’s not good for your body. So, what I started to do, I started to do like, you know, Wim Hof Method, which is like cold water and special breathing. I’m still like, you know, doing a lot of exercise and then, you know, I was like because I knew how to work with your brain, what kind of the chemical cocktail is good for your body? How to improve immunity, which is like endorphins, which means let’s do something you like and I started it was like two years ago actually, I started to do those, you know, live sessions now. And at that time I could probably like all together say, and say Wow 40 Maybe 50,000 People now have like 153 times you know more like, on those social networks are so I started to do really like the things which I like then and then because our brain likes predictability so I like every day I’ve got some plan what I need to do even though it was only online okay, then I was online in touch with the other people so it’s about serotonin. Dopamine is about this, you know, plan, so it’s helping you like, Hey, you feel good. I’m and I must say, last year, like COVID too I was a little bit you know, tired. It’s like all of those, you know, measures, but only to one actualize. I was like, this is fine, right? And then obviously, look, I’m like a lot of people asking me, Are you like, vaccinated or anti vaccinated? I’m like, No, I’m young, you know, right. So I asked the guy who is one of the best immunologist in my country, Professor Behram. And I asked him, What are cons? And you know, what are pros and cons with the vaccine, and I got, like, three vaccines with booster and so on. That was my decision. But I’m not pushing anybody else. It’s really like your you know decision to do it. So. And this is the way I think, you know, you can like move. That is what stoics stoics. They were very smart in old Greece, they were saying you should do only things you can influence, I cannot influence whether there will be you know, another COVID or watervale, you know, happen around me, I can influence only my behavior in the changing environment. That’s exactly what I do. And that’s why I’m like, yeah, if I will have a COVID Probably, I’ve got COVID already, but it was like mild. And if I have it, you know, hopefully because I did everything. What could what I could do, right. But yeah, what’s interesting, so that there is from me. Lisa, do you know what we say in Czech Republic? Oh, physical fighting between man. One punch is like Raffaello, more than 1,000 words.
Lisa Christen 42:27
So one punch solves everything. Okay.
Jan Muhlfeit 42:30
I don’t think I don’t think that the Czechs in Scotland, you know, if you would have been in Scotland, they fighting a lot, you know, but Czechs are not fighting that much. And I and Lisa, by the way, I didn’t say that men are stronger than the women. No way. It’s the other way around. I’m saying that men are like, if they’re physically fighting, there is a peace sooner as opposed if you know women opposite?
Lisa Christen 42:59
Yeah, there are there are culturally different ways that people think is what’s appropriate to resolve conflict, right. And it feels less appropriate for women to do that. But for men, if you’ve been sort of culturally trained that you can do that, and then it’s all good. And it’s done, then that is one tool in the toolkit. Now, I think that that sort of going less and less as we get more into, you know, more gender equality stuff. But if it works for you, I mean, if you and the other person both agree a, you know, a duel and or have a physical fight of some sort works. I do think Yeah. And that you’re raising a really interesting point of from a couple of things that you’ve said that just sort of tie them together? Because we talked about when is it worth picking a fight? When is it worth going into conflict? And for these social things? When can I actually make a difference or not? Right? But I’ve loved watching-. So I’m American, originally, I’ve loved watching Black Lives Matter, for example, where people finally said, Enough is enough, we’re going to stand up, and we’re really going to make change happen. Right. And so they channeled their anger or they channeled their feeling of I’m one person, I can’t do anything. But we can start organizing, we can use our anger to create something good, this conflict is worth having, because it will save lives because it will, you know, help society become more equal. So what sometimes even if it feels like a conflict that feels very heavy or fighting, it’s worth it because it’s aligned with our values of trying to make the world a better place. And this is something we haven’t yet talked about, for when it’s worth conflict. And I say when it’s really aligned with your values, and you need to stand up for them for yourself or for others and also to stay really focused on what’s your goal? I don’t know about you. Jan. And I, I often facilitate like leadership team meetings. I’ll listen to them. And they’ll go back and forth, and back and forth, and back and forth, because everybody wants to have their opinion heard. And I’m like, does anybody even know what we’re talking about? Or why we’re talking about this because the goal was this. And then one person came into their mind, another person just said it, and nobody was focused on the goal on whether or not what they said was relevant to the goal or not. So I just wanted to have some noticings for people pick and choose conflict, when it’s worth it, when it was important to you and it’s your values when you’re doing good. And like, let the rest kind of go. Right. Don’t sweat the small stuff.
Jan Muhlfeit 45:46
Right. I agree. And indefinitely, I think life, it’s about picking up the right battles, you know, right. That’s like, in the sport, I have so many, you know, athletes now, some of them are, you know, like, competing at the Olympic Games in China does the same. Not all like, you know, tournaments or not all, you know, matches are equal, you know, right. Because it’s, like, you know, Rafael Nadal, he was like, playing some exhibition matches, whatever, like four months ago, he was like, with, you know, support it, you know. And now he beaten the guy was, like, 15 years, you know, not 15, but 10 years younger than him. And it was like, lost battle, but but it’s really about mindset, you know, right. It’s about what I’m saying that the champion feels like a winner, even though he’s momentarily, losing it, because score, he was like, losing 2-0, 3 to 2 and 0-4. It was like, read it, you know, it looks like I mean, those people who are like, you know, guessing what will be, you know, the final result, or like 96%, or 4%, for Rapha, and he still won. So, because your score whatever happened in the past, it’s like, on the score, on your Live Score, or your games caught or whatever, but then the future, you can influence one present moment after the other, and it’s about your mental score, whether you believe that you can change your life, whether it’s like shortline, which is the game of the tennis, you know, like one match, you know, or you know, long line by and I think this is this is what it takes, if you need to really figure it out, what is important to life and what is not and and there is another you know, in that book seven habits of the most effective people, Stephen Covey is saying that we should not do the things which are not, you know, important at all, whatever, it’s not important, put it away, okay. And then the battle is in two quadrants, you know, things which are urgent and important and which are important and non urgent, everybody who tell you should definitely do like urgent, important, no, you sometimes you you cannot avoid urgent important, but if you do urgent and important, then you are not fully using your brand your capacity, because you are usually under the pressure. If you do things which are not urgent, but are important, you can use much more your brain because you can get ready, you can be more, you know, logical, you know, if it’s urgent, then your amygdala I need to manage, I need to manage my time, you know, whatever, right. So, so and that’s how you should, you know, decide on your time, it’s about, like, prioritizing, the problem is that there’s a lot of people who are like having a to do list and all of those, you know, goals are like the same thing, okay. And they don’t think like, hey, if I will do like interdependencies, you know, right, if I will do that, that will help that and they will help me, right. And, unfortunately, the issue is, to me that the critical thinking is not taught even at the best schools, you know, right. On how to, you know, think critically and how to plan our time, you know, a bit, you know, we do, but mainly how you connect, like your heart with your time, because you may, you may do a lot of planning, but if those activities are like activities, you don’t like, you know, so,
Lisa Christen 49:24
yeah, so it’s a waste of life, and we only have one. So here’s my big question. For any of you who are here live. Are you facing a specific conflict? Do you want some advice? Do you want us to share anything? Do you have any specific questions? Because I know Jan and I both know, this is like the number one thing that people say whether they’re frustrated with their spouse or partner, whether they’re frustrated with their kids, whether they’re frustrated at work, whether they’re frustrated with, you know, colleagues or the board or the employees that report into them, it’s so often about conflict, and how to resolve it or how to work with it. So we are super happy to answer any questions that you have. And one thing that we haven’t maybe talked enough about is empathy. Because when you’re in conflict, here’s another thing that I hear all the time. Well, I understand what the person is thinking, but they should just think this instead. Or they should just do this, like, if I were them, I would do that. So they should just do that too. Empathy is not I think about their situation, and then I use my brain and put it in their body. Empathy is I put aside what I would think or what I would feel or what I would do, and I try to understand what’s going on for them. Empathy does not mean you agree, you do not need to agree, but you do need to understand.
Jan Muhlfeit 50:56
yeah, exactly. You need to understand, to be understood, you know, right. That’s another that’s another you know, law. From the from the from the book from seven habits. Michal is asking interesting question. Michal Konstacky is from Switzerland, by the way, he’s Czech origin. And he’s, he’s a great scientist. And he’s like, you know, senior leader there, what to do with toxic people. So
Lisa Christen 51:28
so first of all, actually Jan kind of said this quite nicely earlier. As much as possible. I look at life like a flower garden, and you need to prune away some things to make sure that the beautiful stuff can really grow and thrive. So in your personal life, friends, distant relatives, try to spend as little time with them as possible, you don’t need to catch their emotions of negativity and harshness. So that’s first is try to prune away what you can. If you can’t, because it’s a work colleague or a boss. What you need to be able to do at least from my perspective is take on whatever it is they’re saying, find a 10% Truth, like don’t fight that they are toxic. Accept it, I know that this person is toxic. Take on Is there anything I can learn here from this conversation? No? Throw it out the window. Great. Handled. So we don’t let the emotions come in. We don’t avoid them. We don’t ignore them. We just don’t let them burn our energy. We listen, is there something that’s helpful for me and my personal goals of learning and development and career and getting a project done? Anything here for me? No? Great. And that’s how I would deal with them take away their power to affect you.
Jan Muhlfeit 52:52
Yeah. And guys, you should understand as Lisa rightly said, that emotions are contagious, both positive emotions, but also negative emotions, okay. So, you may Michal you may, you know, take, you know, one or two people who are on the other hand, like good team or team players, and they have a good you know, ideas and they have, usually and each and every team there is like 10-15, maybe 20% of people and they have disproportional higher influence on the other they are like, you know, influencers, opinion makers in the group, if you will, and you need as a leader, you need to have those people on your side, okay? If they’re, like positive, so they can really neutral eyes, this, you know, toxic people and talk directly to me, you know, I was always talking to those people. And success rate was like 50-50, to be to be honest, right? Some summary, I said, Look, if you behave like that, this is the way I feel. And this is the way other people are like feeling. It’s really like infection in the group. Okay. And some people realize and try to change, some people did not, you know, and then we said, hey, you know, this makes no sense. There is a there is another issue, guys. If you have somebody who is really great performer and you need that person, and he’s toxic. That’s a tough decision. Okay. And I’m always like, you need to wait like, okay is a great person, but maybe I can have like 20% Less of performance, but a much more like positivity, you need to you need to really think about it. Because a lot of people say, Oh, we cannot fire him because he does not behave in the right way. But he’s so great. Okay, guys, everybody can be replaced. Okay. I mean, Djokovic, Nadal Federer are great, but at some point, they will be replaced but it’s not yet. It’s not yet. Let’s put it this way. It’s not yet. But I’m working with my player of a theory I’m working on Do we have enough time on it? Yeah. Is it? Yeah,
Lisa Christen 55:04
Jan. There’s actually a book about this. For anybody who wants to know, it’s a Stanford professor, he wrote the no assholes rule. Basically, he says you should fire anybody who’s a real asshole in your organization because of how toxic they are. So if you have that capability, really strongly put a line in the sand stand up for what you say. And there’s a red line, we don’t accept behavior like this.
Jan Muhlfeit 55:28
Okay, here we go. Maria Indra, do you have experience with different typology of people reaction to the conflict? What is your good hint to react on aggression and manipulation during the exchange of your opinions? Yeah, Maria, in general, every human being is different. Because there are no analysts they do start to clone people like a sheep’s you know, right. Hopefully not. You are unique. Lisa is unique. Everybody’s unique. Right? Okay. That’s why you don’t have two people with totally, you know, same opinion or totally the same paradigm of, you know, other people the world. So it’s good, you know, to understand other people now, what I realize, unless you understand who you are, you will not understand other person, I tell you why. Because for that, to understand other person, you need to have some comparison. You need to figure out hey, maybe, you know, me and Lisa, we are similar. We are crazy. That’s clear.
Lisa Christen 56:33
Yes, we are.
Jan Muhlfeit 56:35
But then there is like Lisa, she likes to write, I hate to write, okay, no, we, there’s another common way we like to talk, that’s that’s but really build from that. And then you can say okay, so this is the same, this is different. And this is the way how I should you know, work right. You know, aggressions and manipulations. It’s usually you know, the ego of the other person because ego guys, you should understand ego is not you or the other person, you know, ego is the fear, basically, okay? It’s like, you know, it’s a couple of fears, right? Because we, yeah, this is it. And once they, the other person will start to feel secure will be like, in the present moment, your fear is gone. Okay? Some people they go to huge ego is ego is really the fear, and a lot of people because they think, okay, I need to buy, you know, big car, I need to buy, you know, whatever big house and so on. And very often it’s ego because those people, it’s called status symbols, you know, in marketing, and those people they want to be recognized, okay, and then they are like, shocked if I’m in the if I’m using subway, some people are shocked Jan, how can you you know, go by subway. I’m like, because it’s the fastest way. And I really value my time. I’m like, 60 years old, I don’t want to wait on that fucking, you know, bridge, right? Subway it’s like, yeah, so this, this is it to really understand the other person, you should. There are people who you know, wants to manipulate you. And we are we are equipped that if you if you want to understand how the trust is built, it’s about, you know, authenticity, and you can Maria, you can figure it out, you are equipped because we have neurons in our brain, but also neurons in our, you know, digestion system, it’s called gut. It’s called gut feeling, your gut feeling in 70 milliseconds, you can figure out whether that person is authentic or not, it’s called incongruence. If it’s incongruent with what he or she is saying, then it’s like, hey, it’s probably manipulation and it’s not you know, true. And then it’s like predictability. That person is saying, hey, it’s like that. And then the second day, it’s absolutely different. That’s another trust is you know, gone. Aggression does the same you know, thing so, it’s good. I think it is a good to study people. But first you need to study yourself also.
Lisa Christen 59:21
So true. And I’ll just add one tip there for Maria if you don’t mind. Maria, just for how to talk about aggression or manipulation. I go into almost like a sportscaster mode. So I’ll start to just articulate what’s happening what’s going on what they’re saying. So if you if you hear they’re getting really aggressive, okay, it sounds like this point is really important for you right so you stay calm, you just start thiinking. Sounds like it’s really important for you. Let’s let me go. Let me help me to understand it a little bit more because I hear it so important for you. So aggression manipulation, that’s all coming out of this part of the brain, the monkey part of the brain, you want to help them cool that part of the brain. So you have to stay super neutral, right? If you can’t rise up, because you won’t get what you want out of that you stay focused on your goal. So your goal in that moment, is they’re in monkey brain? How can I bring them back to the connection part of the brain? Sounds like it’s really important to you, that means it’s going to be really important to me, too. So let’s, let’s open that one up again, or if they’re trying to manipulate? Oh, that, you know, that’s not exactly how I understood it to be. Let’s make sure we’re both on the same page, because I understood that it was this and I’m hearing you, am I hearing you correctly, that you’re saying it’s this? So you can call it out without saying you’re lying, you’re manipulating your, but go into sportscaster mode, where you’re just naming what’s going on what you’re seeing out of them, and try to cool them down to get them reconnected with you not to feel threatened. Anyway,
Jan Muhlfeit 1:01:02
last question from Michal, very interesting on why mediocre people succeeded, sometimes more in the corporate corporate hierarchy, than those different ones are some bosses afraid of competition in their own departments. So Michal very, I’ll give you an answer. Bill Gates when I was traveling with him, once I asked him, What does it take to have a best organization best team in the world? And he said, You need to have A players, okay? Because A players aren’t hiring A players, B players are hiring are creating C organization. I said, Okay, I understand the first part, A hiring A, but I don’t understand how we can create the organization, he said, B are not afraid only B players, they are not afraid only A players, but they are also afraid of the B players. That’s why they are you know, hiring C players, once the A players will see okay, B is new standard, they performance goes down. And it goes like that. And I really believe you cannot have everybody you can have like somebody who can hire somebody with A potential maybe he’s like, you know, B because he’s young or whatever, you know, right. But if somebody is B for 15 years, there’s no way and maybe it takes you know, different job in different company. And that it can be in the blossom, you know, where it’s maybe like that, but but this is it. And, and really, I was working in the organization, where, you know, majority of the players were A players, I believe that and, you know, and I remember once I hired some B player, and it cost me a lot of, you know, money on my bonus. And that’s absolutely right decision for my former boss, who is now providing jobs, I was my good friend, who is now Microsoft. And this is what you know, right? If you want to build great organization, this is it. But it can Michal it can happen that really like mediocracy is promoted in some organization, if they are afraid, hey, this, I’d rather be you know, surrounded by some people who are like, mediocre, you know, so I can like they can see all is great, but it’s not, you know, it’s I think it’s a very short minded, you know, strategy.
Lisa Christen 1:03:32
Well, I can tell you, it’s exactly the difference between is our company now, so big and so great. And it’s such a reputation that we’re now playing to not lose, or are we playing to win. And if we’re trying to not lose, we want to hold it tight. We can’t risk anything, that we’re not going to take risks on people who think differently or act differently or want to take big risks or do really creative things, right? There’s a there’s an old saying you never get fired for hiring a big four firm, right? If you get McKinsey to come into your company, outside of analysis, you’re not gonna get fired. So mediocre, but not too risky people in an environment that’s risk averse, those are the people that move up in the ranks.
Jan Muhlfeit 1:04:17
No, I absolutely. I absolutely agree. And there is another issue in those companies Michal if the company is getting really big and bigger. That company is putting in the in the middle of the organization, a lot of smart people with Harvard, Stanford and so on. But they never see customer, for example. So what they try to do to make them to be more important, they try to send emails up to the bosses, to the big bosses, and they try to manage the field, you know, right, but they have really a very low value added. And usually this is the first piece of the organization. If there’s a crisis, that piece is going to be cut and it’s very bad right? Because you should you should put those people to the corporation so they can learn on the top, you know, or to the field, you know, right. And then they can be really facilitate that, you know, discussion and communication in the middle of the organization. Anyway, so that will be That’s it for another discussion.
Lisa Christen 1:05:20
A whole nother day. Talk about middle management not be mediocre. It’s usually not their fault. I like that as a topic.
Jan Muhlfeit 1:05:27
Absolutely. Guys, thank you very much. It was this one was exceptionally on Monday. So Lisa, when is the next one? We do it every second Thursday at eight o’clock.
Lisa Christen 1:05:40
Exactly, exactly. So stay tuned. Watch us not this Thursday. But the following Thursday. We’re back on schedule. Yes. Follow us on LinkedIn. Stay in touch. If you have a good topic, let us know.
Jan Muhlfeit 1:05:53
Yeah. Thanks very much. Stay healthy.
Lisa Christen 1:05:56
Thanks, everyone. Take care.
Jan Muhlfeit 1:05:59