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Productive Conflict in the Workplace? [AUDIO]

Females have been gradually making more of a presence in traditionally male-dominated fields, which experts claim could present the opportunity for plenty of tension and conflict.

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Flickr User buddawiggi

However, conflict in the workplace may be necessary, as long as it gets somewhere in the end.

“There ends up being conflict on a team of men and women because men are trying to win, and women are trying to make it work,” explained Dr. Robyn Odegaard of Somerset, a nationally-known conflict resolution consultant.

She said males generally have a “king of the jungle” mentality,” while women tend to be more collaborative.

Collaboration is key, according to Odegaard, and both genders must try to make it work.

Tips for women in traditionally male-dominated fields:

  • Have ideas fleshed out before bringing them to the table. Know where the strengths lie, and ask for input in specific areas.
  • Avoid prefacing thoughts with, “Maybe I’m wrong, but…” or, “I’m sorry to disagree…”
  • Be confident while speaking. Use strong language.

Men working with women as equals should:

  • Recognize that talking through an idea is what makes good ideas great and keeps bad ideas from being implemented.
  • Understand that everything is not a win/lose situation. Work toward understanding what the other party is bringing to the table before forcing an idea.
  • Avoid jumping to a conclusion about someone’s competence because their thought process differs.

“As human beings, we think differently, and that’s what makes us unique and makes us great,” Odegaard added. “What I encourage people to understand is that if nobody’s disagreeing, you’re missing some really great ideas.”

Odegaard, also known as Doc Robyn, will be hosting a two-day conflict seminar this weekend for women’s sports teams, athletic administrators and directors. Click here for more information.

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