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Sarah is whining that Frank isn’t pulling his weight; Bob is barking at Jonathan for not doing what he promised and you’re about to burst if one more person yells, fusses, or utters another negative word that interrupts your work and the mission you chose to support when you took this role. Employee and volunteer conflict can feel rampant and appear to spread through your organization faster than the plague, but how do you stop it? Here are three of the top ideas from the book Make Difficult People Disappear that work even if your magic wand seems perpetually in the shop.

Increase the Rewards and Consequences
When a leader listens and adds to a conflict ridden conversation, that leader is actually rewarding and reinforcing the sharing of negativity. In the absence of compelling and effective rewards and consequences, people will do whatever is easiest. Implement motivating rewards and enforceable consequences and conflict among employees and volunteers will rapidly dissipate.

Raise Awareness
While most know intellectually that all do not communicate the same, our conscious awareness of how to deal with those differences creates conflict. Raise the awareness and the emotional intelligence of the team by helping all understand the distinct styles and motivations of their colleagues. While all personalities provide immeasurable value to the team, differing styles are readily misunderstood and can create conflict and labels of being difficult.

Manage Expectations
It’s as if we look at a German shepherd expecting it to act like a Jack Russell and then get mad at the small dog for not acting big and regal. The same occurs when we label a colleague as difficult and continue to expect them to act in way that is colored with sunshine and roses. How we expect others to behave guides our reactions. Conflict occurs when we demand and expect others to behave in a way that is not natural to or known by those others.

Make Difficult People Disappear isn’t about magic really, it’s about mindset. Those we work with who create conflict are often not being difficult, but are truly different in their approach. With a raised awareness, more rewards and consequences and an altered and shared set of expectations, that conflict effectively vanishes. You can make conflict, stress, and difficult people disappear…even if your wand is broken.

About the Author
Monica Wofford, CSP is a leadership development expert, CEO of Contagious Companies, Inc. and author of Make Difficult People Disappear.  Monica is conducting the session “Making Difficult People Disappear” at the Nonprofit HR Conference on Monday, October 21 at 2:15 PM. To learn more, email: Monica@ContagiousCompanies.com., go to www.ContagiousCompanies.com, or call 866-382-0121.

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