The world is at our doorstep and the media brought it there. Terrorism, immigration reform, ethnic conflicts; each and every day the headlines scream of violence and hatred and international strife. Because of this immediacy, it is impossible to keep these issues from impacting the workplace and, unfortunately, that impact is often negative. .
With the workplace peopled with employees from all over the world, it is inevitable that differing points-of-view will create disharmony and even open conflict in your organization. Although its true that many good programs are in place to diffuse these tensions and help people communicate better, one element is missing from these efforts: Good old fashioned conversation. .
Its not that people arent talking, they are. The problem is, they are talking in unstructured settings that are apt to give rise to misunderstanding, hurt feelings, and more conflict rather than less. I suggest we harness the desire to talk and encourage formal discussions of events that are significant for your team members. When a particularly important event happens be it international, national, or local, bring that subject up at regular meetings. If, for example, a hate crime is committed in your town, talk about it. If, God forbid, another terrorist attack happens, let people voice their views. No matter what the scope of the situation, if you feel that it is someway significant to the people in your organization, provide them with an open forum for discussing that significance. .
When you have such a forum, consider employing these facilitation guidelines:.
-Avoid cross talk. This means, only one person can speak at a time. When he or she is finished, another person can answer.
-Ask participants to repeat back what they think the other person has said before proceeding. This way they can confirm that they really understood the other persons point of view.
-Forbid personal attacks.