Thomas Green here with Ethical Marketing Service. On the podcast today, we have Gemma Perkins. Gemma, welcome.
Thank you for having me.
It is my pleasure. Would you like to take a moment and tell the audience a bit about yourself and what you do?
Yep. So my name is Gemma and I’m a personal transformation facilitator is a little bit of a mouthful, but I wanted to avoid the word coach. What I do is I help individuals and teams to develop different kinds of soft skills that will help them to achieve whatever changes needed in their environment. So it might be leadership, it might conflict like the wellbeing, most of its underpinned by emotional intelligence and it’s about helping people to be the best version of themselves through that sub skills development. Well, correct me if I’m wrong, the topic of conversation today is conflict resolution. Happy to talk about that. Oh yeah, absolutely. Would you like to start with an opener? So I think what’s interesting with conflict resolution is that it’s such a complex area and it as a starting point, I’ll say that I, I get asked a lot, oh, can you deal with this because there’s a live conflict that’s gone on or we’ve just got a new team and we want to equip ourselves to conflict and I think people will say, yeah, I’ll kind of go through all the different aspects of conflict resolution I can cover and that’s a great, can we do that in half a half a day or an hour.
And so people try to reduce conflict down into something. A simple process of these are the three or four steps. You do the job done and actually conflict resolution is a complex skill set because it encompasses so many other things. Active listening, coaching, empathy, organisational awareness, sometimes strategy involved as well, when you’re looking at business teams and so the first thing that I have to really get across to people when we’re dealing with conflict resolution is there are no easy answers, there are more questions than answers and you have to be open minded enough to find those questions as the starting point. Incidentally, that is actually one of my questions which is like a do you use any formulas in the example that I’ve got in my notes, just like for the equivalent is like for objections, so like feel felt found, have you heard of that one? Don’t know that 1? A lot of cool, I feel that way and a lot of people have felt that way and therefore, and what they’ve actually found is X.
So I probably haven’t done a good just this, haven’t done justice there, but reminds me a little bit of the I statements as a way of phrasing framework for phrasing things that helps, helps people to communicate, I guess in a way that will encourage open mindedness or encourage the conversation frameworks that you use or is it very catered to the individual, so I do go through frameworks and then we cater it after. So I like to get people to use examples from their own life or scenarios and pin that onto a framework. So I’m a very big fan of Marshall Rosenberg’s Nonviolent communication model. I use skeleton to me. Talks about six conflict books, I can’t remember where it came from, but one of the things I do is look at phase model, which is for how to structure difficult conversations. And I also draw a little bit from Stephen Covey, even though a lot of stuff about leadership in general, he talks about the difference between collaboration versus compromise and I think that’s always important to bring in as well.
And then I dabble in kind of Daniel Goldman’s emotional intelligence capacities. So I kind of pulled lots of different things together. But when it comes to the bare bones of conflict resolution skills, Marshall Rosenberg’s the first place that I go to. I need to follow up on that because it sounds like quite an interesting, immediately jumped out at me as an interesting thing to ask about which is how to structure difficult conversations. Have you got anything? But I think a lot of employees have to have difficult conversations sometimes. So yeah, the actual structuring, funnily enough, isn’t the difficult bit, I think sometimes we can fast forward into, okay, there’s clearly this problem, let’s just fix it. And so the structuring difficult conversations model, just remind you that there’s different parts. So for example, to both of you or do all the parties involved. No, there’s going to be a difficult conversation happening because it’s not uncommon for somebody to catch you in the middle of a corridor and drop something on you that, Whoa, hold on, this is a challenge.
So there’s a preparation phase where you work out, you know, if it’s a HR issue, do you need to grab any policies? Do you need to pull any emails or evidence or? So sometimes in the preparation phase, you might set out what the aims of the conversation are or what materials you might need to refer to. There’s a there’s an opening phase where you and the other party set the scene. You might even need ground rules. Not necessarily that formally, but if you’re bringing somebody in to talk about a difficult issue, you might want to stay right, were expect to be here for an hour, This is the purpose of the conversation. Are there any areas that we’re not going to be addressing house process? So just kind of that general housekeeping to start the conversation provides people with a sense of security. Because if you don’t do that, if you jump straight into the, whatever your topic is, you put people on the back foot and that’s when they get defensive and that’s going to escalate the conflict.
So you prepare, then you open exploring whatever the issue is and again, this, it doesn’t tell you what to say or how to do, it depends what your issue is. So there’s lots of other soft skills that come in there. But explore is deliberately chosen as that word because it’s not tell them what the problem is, it’s not kind of shouted them. So this is what needs to happen. It’s okay. Let’s really understand what’s going on because for a lot of people conflict taps into their unmet needs, their values, their personality. And so you can see a surface level behaviour that may be or challenge that you want to address. But as to why that’s happening. A process of active listening and coaching is going to uncover. So as you explore that then integrates with the next step, which is to problem solve. And that should be a two-way process where okay now that we both understood more of why this is happening, what could we try and do about it rather than just okay, I’ve decided I’ve noticed that you’re not forming, we’re going to do this, we’re going to put you on a plan or whatever it is.
So they explore and problem solve. Go hand in hand and then you finally close it by actually summarising, okay, this is what we’ve covered. This is what you’re gonna do. This is what I’m gonna do. Let’s put it in writing when we next gonna meet. And again it’s just that housekeeping at the end that provides accountability and security. And again some people gloss over that. They think that we’ve all agreed what to do. Great, let’s leave the room, get empty. If you don’t wrap it up, people don’t have clarity. And then the implementation of whatever was agreed may not happen. So it’s very structural, it’s not, it doesn’t cover any of the skills along the way, but it gives you a process to follow in terms of how to create safe space, create a framework in which to have the conversation. I think that based on just having that is probably better than what, how most people go about it. I would imagine. So, thank you for outlining that.
You have mentioned active listening a couple of times and I think that can be glossed over a little bit if you if you are unaware of the topic. So did you want to go into what you’re, should we say, definition of that is? Yeah. So, I mean, listening is difficult because there’s different kinds of listening, there’s hearing at the lowest level sound going in your ears. But then are we paying attention to what are we listening to understand? Are we listening to reply? Are we problem solving, generating ideas? So, active listening is more around the idea that okay, I’m I’m really making an effort to understand what you’re saying, which means that I’m giving you my contact and paying attention to body language. I’m noticing word choices and maybe even empathising putting myself in your position to understand what things mean to you. And I think it’s a massively underrated skill and it’s very interesting when I’m going into workplaces, because when you say to a group of adults, okay, we’re going to do listening skills that kind of you know, and the growing up, I know how to listen, but we’re terrible for kind of multitasking or as we’re listening to somebody, we’re already working out what our next question is for going, well, I don’t agree with that, I’m going to follow up.
And so we’re listening to reply or to judge or to get our needs met, which is normal and natural, but by doing so it’s blocking that understanding and actually the understanding of the other person is where the solution to a conflict will come from. You want them to understand you and you to understand them. And then in the middle of the Venn diagram, once you both understand each other, that’s where the common ground appears. So I do spend a lot of work as part of conflict resolution workshops, building up active listening skills and also getting people to realise where their pitfalls are. because as I said, if you if you just say to a group of people, okay, I’m gonna teach you listening, they’re kind of disengage and go, no, I don’t want to do that, I know what I’m doing, whereas I’ll call them in a situation, whether it may be is a conflict scenario that the I’ve made not one of theirs, and then we’ll debrief it and go, okay, so how are your listening skills? Oh my God, oh, well actually I wasn’t listening, so well, okay, that’s normal, that’s fine.
So now let’s practice and then they buy into it because they recognised the need rather than just sort of being resistant from, it’s a while ago. But I do remember some sort of example where, you know, someone’s giving you, it’s like a hypothetical scenario that someone is giving you an explanation of where they are and you’re like, you get responses, so how would you respond to this particular person and this? It doesn’t say upfront that it’s a listening exercise, but basically everyone picks the wrong thing based on the fact that they weren’t listening prior. So I know what you mean in relation to people think that they listen, but they really don’t listen that well. Yeah, and it is difficult, it is something that we have to work on because of the way our brains are designed, we can only pay attention to so much information at once. And so we’re built to generalise, were built to filter information because that makes it easier for the brain to process. And so when you’re active listening, you’re having to suspend a lot of those or work against them, right, I’m really trying not to judge, I’m trying to really hear things from your perspective.
Obviously you don’t necessarily say that out loud, but that’s why active listening is so much more difficult than listening to reply because listen to replies as our autopilot. I feel like I need to say something significant about the fact that I’ve been active listening now, but before I do have a bunch of stuff that I want to get through. So I’m in that particular instance, I’m listening to reply under that criteria, but part of it is around the concept of teams. So it’s not an entirely clear question I would say, which makes it I don’t know whether either easier or more difficult to answer, but it’s about teams and conflict and how is it always between, I guess it’s not always between one person and another. Sometimes it’s between multiple people and how you would deal with conflict among a team? Yeah, so I think what’s interesting about conflict is that it’s normally down to an unmet need or a difference in values and that might, you know, manifest in terms of I like to work this way you work a different way or you didn’t do this task on time or the way I wanted to do because everybody is built to care about what they’ve been socialist to care about.
And actually that’s fine and that’s exciting and interesting if you use it to your advantage when teams are in conflict because they don’t appreciate them celebrate that diversity and it becomes a source of frustration. So um, I remember an incident where in terms of two people’s kind of training and teaching styles when they were working with people, one was very spontaneous and worked on. Um, you know what, whatever the group is coming up with, we’ll go down every rabbit hole there very lively and engaging. They were never session plans, participants loved it. They learn what they needed to learn. And then somebody else was very rigid dogmatic. But because it was structured and processed again, participants learn what they needed to learn. They were both perfectly valid approaches that worked in their own way but put them together to do shared planning sessions and there were fireworks because from their own worldview, my way is working and is right, that’s what your way is wrong.
I need to convert you to my way. And it was a source of repeated conflict and so working with them to step back and say, you know, we did some work on personality typing and we looked at what their values were and how okay you feel more secure when you’ve got a rigid process because you value safety and knowing what’s coming next. Whereas you thrive off of spontaneity because you like fun and you actually find a process ties you down and you feel constricted. So again for each person to understand, okay, this is why I operate the way I do. I know my strengths, my weaknesses, my patterns of behaviour, that’s the starting bombing and then once you’re kind of fluent in yourselves to then open up, it’s a bit like Daniel Goldman said about the layers of emotional intelligence, the self-awareness, self-management and then there’s social awareness, Oh how do other people like to be, do I know what their patterns are and then I can use that for relationship management and it might be that those two people say we’re two different, we’re just not going to work together or when it’s your project, you do it your way when it’s fine, I’ll do it my way or if we have to work together how do we make sure both people’s needs are met as best as possible.
So I think what I do with teams when there is conflict is do a lot of individual work of, what is it about this situation that is a problem for you because you care about something being done in a particular way or something provides you with security or something that you value and when people have got the vocabulary to express that it then feeds into the active listening where now I can tell my colleague actually I really wanted things to be this way because that’s what works for me and sometimes the other colleague goes up well if you have just said yeah we can we can do that now or it might be that conflicts with my way, my way is this. But now that we understand each other at least we can find the common ground. So around about where I’m answering I think. And not an easy answer either because obviously taking the time to work with each individual and work with the group on their values and needs can be challenging depending on how much they’re used to self-reflection as well.
You said about differing values or unmet needs. Would you make a distinction between the two or would you say they were kind of one and the same? I think technically they’re different but they definitely fit into each other. There’s mixed literature on like a value is a personal preference. I might value honesty what that looks like in principle as to how our behaviours may be different. My need possibly is about other people. So I need other people to, there might be five people who say they’re probably honesty for one that means you never tell me lies for another. It might be you know, whatever you tell me must be true. But if you withhold something that’s fine for another, it means if you think my outfit looks rubbish, I expect you to tell me and hold me accountable and things like that. So different interpretations of the value that can manifest differently for other people.
So the needs might be a little bit different. And again, this is another interesting thing because people will say, oh, yeah, yeah, I believe in honesty as well and just assume that they’re coming from the same flights. But everybody’s interpretation of what that looks like is slightly different. So the more you can encourage an open ended conversation about what does this really look like for you, the better one of the things that I wanted to touch on, which you have already mentioned a couple of times was personality differences and how they might be relevant to the approach in conflict resolution. You always approach it the same way in terms of conflict based, even if people have vastly different personalities, and is there any prevention tools that you would use and how they might be based on personality differences. So, you know, if you saw someone potentially clashing what, that prevention might be. So, I think on the one hand, we want to be aware of personality attacks and people wanting to do things in different ways.
And as part of my training, I do cover some personality type models. That doesn’t necessarily mean the I’ll tailor the solution to the personality types more. What I’ll do is say, look, everybody here are all these types and this is why you may be feeling the way you’re feeling. Now let’s use that to build them to then go through the process. So, for instance, earlier, when we went through the phase model, the five steps of having a difficult conversation, that model doesn’t need changing for different personality types? It’s very keen of work when you look at the nonviolent communication model. That process is pretty across the board. So I think there’s a danger that you don’t want to be trying to over complicate it by being really, really niche. In light of personality types, it’s more important to tailor it to the person. But because what you’re doing is encouraging active listening and collaborative collaboration, problem solving people will bring their personality to that anyway.
I think the main consideration really would be if you’re dealing with conflicts in teams, if, you know, you’ve got, say a lot of extroverts and one introvert or vice versa. Or you know, if, you know one person’s remote and everybody else is in person when you’ve got differences that are going to change the dynamic and make that individual you know, possibly experienced barriers to having that open dialogue, then you want to do some tailoring. But I don’t think too much needs to be changed personality types because if you’re getting them to express their needs that will cut across types anyway, is there anything different that you would mention on cultural differences? I know that personality differences might be one thing, but cultural differences, one example that are run by, I’m sure you’ve heard them all anyway. But if you and I were to let’s say if I were to feedback on something, I might say you know how I would go about doing this is X.
And what do you think about that? Whereas maybe someone who doesn’t have this vocabulary because they might be from a different country or something, they might say do it this way and that would come across as very rude in our culture, but it’s just you know, it’s just a cultural difference. So what any thoughts that so I think yeah it’s interesting because so I was doing a conflict resolution session the other day with a team and somebody was of African heritage and he said, you know, I found this really interesting that it’s almost slow and flowery language to him to say, okay I’ve experienced this problem, this is how I feel about it, this is what I’d like us to do about it because in his culture just say you need to sort this out and it would be really direct and very honest and in his culture it would work. So I think there are definite differences in how we’re socialist to address problems or not address there are some people who, you know, perhaps it’s typically British too, if we if we experience an issue to get very cross about it and just stand tutting but not actually address it.
So there are cultural differences in the approach but in terms of the in terms of actually how to go about dealing with it expressing the issue identifying your needs and values and getting the other person to understand and then hearing from them hopefully is cross cutting. So when I’ve done, I did workshops in India in Bahrain in Switzerland. So I’ve worked in multicultural environments where as long as you get people to do the active listening bit right, and to talk about what’s going on for them, they will hopefully be able to say, oh in my culture, we do things this way. So this is new for me, like actually I’m quite happy for you to be direct and somebody else might say, oh, I’m not used to this, I’ll try and get used to, you know, you’re being very forward, but it might take me some time because I’m not used to it. So can you bear that in mind? So I think if you can if you can do the listening bit right, I feel like it cuts across the culture, the gender, the age of the personality, because if to humans understand each other basic level, the other stuff doesn’t really matter because we’re all different anyway, at some level, do you feel like you’re teaching people communication in relation to conflict?
Oh, yeah, absolutely. And I think, I think that’s mostly what conflict resolution is, There has been a miscommunication or perhaps a lack of communication and maybe instead assumptions and that once you can kind of build that pathway where two people understand each other things, just sort themselves out completely. It was really funny. Again, an example, I often get people, even though I’m working with work teams, I say let’s let’s work with an example of a conflict and it doesn’t have to be a work one. So they sometimes choose personal ones because that’s easier. And one lady was saying, oh, I’m always getting into this argument with my partner about the toothpaste tube because I leave the lid off because that’s just what I’ve always done. And she was just really, really he animated should we say about, you know, he seems so much and he’s just been ridiculous and I can’t get why he’s always on at me about it is nagging me. It does my head in and I just can’t be bothered doing it’s not a big deal.
And then we work through this process where we talked about, okay, well what are your needs and what his needs be and how do you feel and how do you think he feels? And even though he wasn’t in the room because she was workshop in it with me. She started to think about, well actually maybe he needs the respect of me doing probably in his mind. He thinks it’s a five second job. Why am I not doing it may be that says, I don’t care in awful. And you know, so she was going through a process of trying to work out how it would affect him versus how she’s choosing to behave and what feelings that has for her and by the end of it, she was like, oh, I’ve realised I need to change because actually if I want to, you know, build a life with somebody that there are these little things where we, we learn the other person’s patterns, so silly example, but that there had not been tea, you know, you’re going to get into a blazing row over who made a cup of tea or didn’t in the office because somebody is assumed, okay, you didn’t make it therefore, you know, you don’t care or and there’s all these things around people valuing autonomy or belonging or competence and little behaviours tap into those trigger insecurities.
And that’s where the conflict comes from. If you’re self-aware and can communicate about what you need to try and resolve that most people will accommodate, go, okay, do you realise you felt that strongly? No problem. Let’s sort it out. So what you’re saying is not only do you teach conflict, but you also save marriages as well. I might not phrase it that way, but it’s a definite favourite when I, when I work with people and they say this has been really useful for work, but you know what, this is going to help me stop arguing my son or something like that. That’s my favourite bit. I really like when people take it into their personal lives as well because although they’re taught us workplace skills, you know, who we are is carried into all aspects of our lives. You mentioned previously about an example where one person is working from home and there might be a barrier. I really wanted to talk to you and get your thoughts on how tech might be an issue regarding conflict both from the perspective of communication, like instant message, for example, and also, you know, remote working thoughts there.
So in terms of working through a screen, obviously you’re, it changes communication a little bit. You lose a lot of body language signals in email, you lose tone of voice and things like that. So you’re more likely in some ways to get assumptions when you’re, when you’re missing out on those nonverbal cues. And so that can be a bit of a problem. I’m sure loads of loads of people leads listeners have had an email and they’ve gone on, well, what do they mean by that? They’ve been shirt e with me of the kind of accusing me of something. So yeah, that lack of context can be difficult. And then if people don’t feel comfortable addressing that and saying, oh, I just wanted to check what you meant, um, then you can believe that the assumption is the truth. And again, that’s another problem in conflict is we tell ourselves a story of what we think is happening and then we forget that it’s a story. And just, so that’s what actually happened. So there’s definitely scope for more of that in digital communications and remote communications, but again, it depends how people work through it.
I’d like to think, you know, we’ve got our video when we’re having this interview on the whole, Yes, we’re not talking about an interpersonal conflict between us, but, you know, I can see when you’re nodding and following along and you see when you want to ask something. So if even though people are remote, if they’re putting things in place to build in that human element, and if they’re clarifying in emails and asking good questions, you can overcome that. It just takes a little bit more deliberate thought and not everybody’s been taught to think about that deliberately. You know, we get into the world of work and if you’re an accountant, you trained in accountancy, you’ve not trained in writing emails in an interpersonal way. So it’s always worth thinking about what skills haven’t I picked up along the way that I want to work on, There were two parts to your question. I’ve forgotten the second part. well, the example I used was, well, the instant message side of things, which I think you probably addressed and then also kind of the working from home, the remote side of things.
But what I take away from your answer rightly or wrongly is that when you’re dealing with text communication is too bear air on the side of you know, they probably didn’t mean that. Yeah. And check with people again, there can be a little bit of a a worry about clarifying and actually what you’ve just done is a fantastic example. I said something and you said what I’ve taken from this is you’ve clarified which gives me an opportunity to say yes, that’s what I meant or no, it’s not what I meant and that’s a fantastic skill and people don’t do that enough where they say okay I’ve what I’ve heard is this or it sounds like your priority is so you’re asking me to and just checking what people mean saves all that worry of goodness. What did they mean? Like okay I know I’ve understood the message or oh I didn’t understand and now they’ve told me in a different way and now I do and it shouldn’t feel like a failure to clarify.
Some people are worried about checking that it might make them look stupid for not getting it the first time. But the responsibility of communication is on both people involved me to communicate the message. Well you to check you understood it and if both people are doing that you’re going to you know be in the same place. So I think having systems where people feel able to check in with managers and team members to set down through their guests as well. So where you were saying about instant communication, I think some people some conflicts that I hear about and work with the workload ones where I’ve just had this email of somebody asking for something. So I’ve got to do it now, but they didn’t necessarily say this needs doing right now and the person didn’t feel able to be assertive and say actually I’ve got a load of other things on. I can do it by Tuesday afternoon and so teaching members of teams and managers to encourage, how do you how do you set expectations so that everyone knows where they stand and that way there are no conflicts when the expectations are not met, you don’t end up putting on people’s workload unnecessarily.
Obviously we’ve all got work to do, but sometimes when there’s too much that builds up the stress response and so you’re less able to tap into your emotional intelligence stuff, you might end up being a bit more snappy and that starts a conflict. So there’s all sorts of different situational things that can escalate conflict. But if you’re good at managing your environment, you can kind of use those boundaries, use those expectations and shared understandings to feel more in control and therefore able to think of the pace that works for you. Yeah, I particularly like the fact that used me as a positive example there as well. Why? But you did touch on something which I was going to ask you about, which was conflict that goes up or down the ladder, So if it’s a conflict with your boss or perhaps if you are the boss, then a conflict with someone below you, any nuances there, we should know about the me personally, I would say humans are humans, there shouldn’t be so much of a difference.
If somebody is above or below you, there’s still another person, you’re still trying to understand their perspective. Obviously in reality, some workplaces are very hierarchical, there might be certain expectations and norms about are we allowed to challenge the boss? You know, is it that you just turn up and do as you’re told? So I think workplace to workplace, there are certain dynamics and it’s worth being aware of what those dynamics are before you make a decision as to how to respond, I would encourage people to, you know, treat everybody as equals and see the common humanity. But I have worked with, I have seen places where they’re not interested in that and therefore the conflict resolution is a little bit boot because the manager is going to do whatever they want to do and people vote with their feet and they leave if it feels toxic, I think managers have a lot of responsibility to encourage open communication and that can sometimes be a bit difficult because they might say, oh yeah, we’ve got an open door policy come to me with any problems that we can deal with them before they escalate.
But the flip side might be that if somebody says, oh, I’ve got an idea that’s going to replace your idea. Oh, but now I’m defensive. So that door quietly gets closed. Or so sometimes people will say yes, I’m willing to hear the feedback or were willing to do things differently. They say it, but they don’t really mean it. And so there’s a definite point to be made about being authentic if you know, you’re not interested in people’s ideas. If you don’t want their feet, perhaps don’t tell them that you do at least be honest about what’s expected because when people know where they stand okay, my manager is just the person who tells me what to do, but at least I know that I’m not going to, you know, I’m not going to try and have a big conversation with them about doing things differently because that would be a waste of my time. If people know where they stand, it may not always be nice, but at least they feel some security in knowing that and they can crack on with whatever it is they want to do. So again, there’s a lot of interesting dynamics there and actually working with working with managers on how to lead in an authentic way and how to be a bit vulnerable as well.
There’s a um, you know, in the field of leadership, the traditional masculine approach is that the leader has to know everything has to have all the ideas has to do all the delegation kind of fingers in all the pies knowing what’s going on. Well it’s actually more modern ideas around leadership. Talk about it being more collaborative. The leader as part of the team. The leader facilitates the environment and doesn’t have to have all the answers. So it might be that somebody on the team is you know, everybody’s been hired for a reason, They’re good at those things. The leader facilitates and manages the conversation between them, manages the workflow and therefore if they’re a little bit hands off in the work because they’re dealing with the relationships that can feel like an unusual space. So that can be a source of kind of insecurity for the leader. And insecurity is a source of conflict as well. Because when we feel insecure maybe feedback feels like an attack and then we want to go on the defensive.
So I guess the theme of this whole thing really is that humans are so complicated and rather than trying to reduce it down to okay this is how we deal with people actually because the Truman is so complicated. Get to know each one, you know use your soft skills because when you know each one you can work out how to deal with okay that’s how bob likes to be. That’s how Sarah likes to be. Okay now I can start meeting them in the middle. You can be an amazing team once Everyone kind of knows each other’s what makes them tick if you like. Mm And that’s why it’s important with new people. And I guess you know if you like we send the remote worker as well. You still want time to do team bonding and getting to know and you know doing collaborative projects to see different styles and not just doing the project or whatever it is, whatever the work is. But then, talking about afterwards, how did we operate as a team? What went well? What could we do better?
And having those moments of reflection is important. A lot of work places are so busy trying to do the bottom line that they may not invest time into the development of thinking the introspection naturally when you when you put a bit of time into that you get the return on investment because then the communication is going to be smoother in future. I can see team bonding or team building as being a bit of a prevention tool for conflict. Have you got any thoughts there on the way to do that? Because I feel like that? it’s got a bit of a bad reputation for being I don’t know, a waste of time and money but what’s the right way to do it is I guess the question so I mean I’m very wary about saying anything is the way but what I know what you mean. I’ve been, I I got into the world of leadership development at 16, so I’m very fortunate to have been in this world for 15 years and this is just normal for me, but when other people’s team building, your team are going to build a bridge across this pretend rhythm, you’re going to do this thing And we’ve done it.
So the, you know, 45 minutes and they’ve got great jobs on your team built. Well no, we didn’t do any reflection on who took charge, who communicated this way, where did the idea come from? How do we problem solve together? So for me, one of the key ingredients of good team building is the debrief you have to talk about what happened because the whole point of team building, his self-awareness and team awareness and if you don’t take that time to reflect the awareness is not there, you’re just you’re just doing a task or an activity and that’s it. So I, I like to work with playful games as well. So it’s not unusual for me to have people tangling each other up with string or pretending to be animals are running around and doing that stuff. I worked as a primary school teacher for a little while and I think that people do learn through play, but I know it’s not for everybody, but we also do more serious stuff like people do you know, personality archetype ng tools questionnaires, you can have people do and in a meditative processes together or presentations about identity and things.
So there’s all sorts of things you can do. The activity isn’t the issue, it’s more once you’ve done it, how do you get people to then talk about? What did I notice about myself? What did I notice about each other person? Do they see themselves the same way I see them? How do we use those in the team? Oh, okay. You took charge in this activity because you value, you know, or because you have a strength in this area, but if it was something else you’d sit back and withdraw, I tend to be quiet in these situations. So whatever it is, it’s facilitating that process and people working out what their patterns are. And then are those patterns working for us? How do we use them to our advantage? Are there any areas that we want to practice and develop maybe in this safe environment? I want to try doing something differently. So maybe I’m always the ideas person, but for the next activity, I’m going to hold back and I’m going to implement somebody else’s idea to see what that feels like.
So it’s about letting people explore the different roles they can play in teams to understand themselves, find their fit, What you don’t want to do is just sort of as I said, get people to do an activity and go yet that boxes ticked we’ve done team building because not everybody is going to enjoy it and you’ll have a mixture of people who want to do creative, who want to do logical, who want to do extroverted or introverted, so having a little bit of choices is good as part of a team building strategy as well. I touched on this particular topic because of some misconceptions of what people have, but are there any others on conflict resolution to kind of misconceptions that I see quite a lot just in day to day life. So I mean a classic example, it happens in offices, but more so in the primary school playground is two kids have had a falling out and the dinner lady comes to sort it and just rocks up and says, right, you say sorry, you say sorry, there we go sorted.
And that does happen in in corporate teams as well, where there was a conflict and somebody has decided this needs dealing with and has just made everybody sweep it under the rug and not address it. And that that is only going to come back and bite you later. Those people feel resentment that it’s not sorted, They’re going to feel resentment to the person who lost it over and it’s gonna reoccur in one form or another. So that’s a definite thing is that conflict doesn’t need dealing with in one way or another, otherwise it will, it will resurface. And another thing is people sometimes mix up collaboration and compromise. So, okay, you want this, I want the other. Let’s compromise and meet in the middle and they’re very quick to try and meet in the middle, which in some ways it’s admirable cause it’s one way of fixing the issue, but actually it’s trying to shortcut it.
And a compromise by definition is both people getting half of what they wanted. Actually, if you took the time to really understand the other person and to express yourself, maybe you can both get what you want because maybe there’s a creative way around it or maybe that’s what you actually want is not in conflict with the other person’s needs at all. So yeah, when people jump straight to compromise and think that that that is a positive, it’s not the full picture. So it’s getting people to kind of slow down and look for the well-rounded solution. It’s a great point, 100% agree. And I also think it applies. Not that we’re talking about negotiation, but lots of people will meet in the middle when it’s really not necessary. So is there anything that you would like to add that I haven’t asked you about regarding conflict, I think I’ll go back a little bit to the Marshall Rosenberg. I really recommend if anybody wants to read more on conflict.
His model is fantastic and it’s an easy book as well because it’s full of very, you know, nice examples, it’s not tailored to business, it’s more personal, but you can see how it would apply. And he basically breaks talking about conflict into four steps, which is observe what happened. And what he means by that is don’t judge, don’t be like, oh, she’s wandering. And you know, we stereotype, we mislabelled, just know what actually happened. How are you feeling about it? And again, there’s some nuances. It’s not. You made me feel it’s not, I feel this because these are my needs that are not being met and then request a solution. It would really help me if we could get it to them and I use it all the time. It’s such a nice process. And it’s good for work. It’s good for personal life. It’s cross generational as well. I get Children to use it. And so in a work setting, you might have somebody very frustrated that their ideas weren’t hurt in that meeting and no sensor wasn’t listening to me.
He doesn’t respect me. Did it there. Okay, let’s nonviolent communication. This. Okay. I suggested an idea and nobody and it didn’t get paid attention to. It didn’t make it onto the agenda. I’m feeling a little bit dejected. I’d like to feel a greater sense of belonging to this team. It would help me if we can put it on the agenda for the next meeting that’s a four line email if that that’s a quick sentence with a manager, you can really use this model to quickly get across what’s going on for you and by asking the other person, it would help me if we could do this or would you mind if we or can we have a look at this issue in more detail? Most people are going to say yes because you’re not attacking them, you’re just kind of stating an issue. So really recommend that as a process for people to practice. I’ve seen it help a lot of people to deal with issues that they were struggling with all. Thank you. I do have to ask are you a bit of a pro at dealing with conflict in your personal life?
There’s not loads of conflict that comes up because I I choose to be around people who are of similar values and I’m very careful on setting expectations and stuff. So in some ways I hope I put enough in place that there are many dramas having said that, you know, we all have, well, we all have our issue areas, I have to say. Sometimes stuff will go off with my mom and my sister that they deal with the world in a very different way to me. And it baffles me, but that’s their way and when they say, oh, we want you to come and help fix this problem that we’ve created. Okay, let me let me work out this is how I would do it, but it’s not how do you want me to do it? Okay, so you know, my life is not without conflict, but I do feel very well equipped and I know that if I hadn’t studied and worked in this area, it would be a lot more challenging. That’s a very diplomatic answer. Sounds like a great skill to have regardless of any business activity that you might need it.
So yeah, absolutely, absolutely. I know your, your audience is very business tailored, but as a former teacher, it baffles me that this is not just on the curriculum because who wouldn’t benefit from conflict resolution skills in whatever you want to do in life, It’s just so useful. Pretty much everyone in the world needs a bit of conflict resolution, right? Absolutely, absolutely. What your goals, Gemma four, I actually find this a weird question because I in some of the other work that I do, I focus on kind of wellbeing and happiness and one of my strong belief is that to be well, you know, happy with right now. So although I do have goals around having a family, maybe doing some new programs with the business, I also really enjoy my current lifestyle and I’m not interested in scaling up, making more money, doing, doing things in a big different way because I guess my goal is to enjoy each day as it comes to be grateful for what I’ve got Most of my goals are around helping people I want to work with, want to work with individuals so that they have those penny dropped moments where they understand themselves better and they get to lead the life that they want.
And then I’m sort of happy ticking over all my life in the background as well. I ask it only because I’m interested, so I’m interested to hear everyone’s responses and I once I once had someone say, I don’t have any girls. Yeah, I like to think I’ve got more of a direction than a goal. Are you just in the sense that when I was doing my teacher training, somebody said to me, the plan is what you do when all else fails and I really like that, you know, you can have a rough idea, but sometimes when people get too hung up on a goal or a plan, they beat themselves up because they’re not there or, you know, the social comparisons and things. So I think while goals are valuable in some circumstances, they can, they can feel a bit smothering in others. So I like the idea of just having a direction instead. Yeah. You know, I have to follow up now, what’s your direction? Gemma? My direction, I guess is just, is sort of family will come up soon.
I imagine, so at some point having my own kids and teaching them all this stuff is just an exciting idea for me. I just love the idea of having little young leaders, conflict resolves and things, and doing all this kind of stuff with them and I do a lot, I’m working a lot with social entrepreneurship charities and things like that, so doing more community projects because I think sometimes the corporate world got its own view of how it wants things to be done. You know, sometimes the bottom line is money where it’s in the charity sector in social entrepreneurship. The bottom line is often a bit more flexible. So I really like taking my skill set there and expanding the business in that direction because then then you’re seeing it ripple out further into more groups of people, not only the people who are training, but then their service users and things like that. So trying to target more that way. It’s quite interesting for me as a direction, brilliant.
I can imagine a very well-adjusted family in your future. Here’s hoping. Where’s the best place for people to find you?
The best place would be LinkedIn to find me, Gemma Perkins. And if you want to see more about what I do, I also have a website which is the SLI.co.uk because the self-leadership initiative is far too long for a web address.
Thank you very much for your time today. You’ve been a great guest.
Thank you very much for having me.