CONFLICT & How to have difficult conversations at work. Plus, how I coach leaders in the art of socially skilled conflict resolution.

Commentary by Dr. Whitesel: When coaching church leaders I often find that it’s not the conflict, but the way it’s handled, that polarizes leaders and leads to more conflict. A primary tool is what I call “other-based conflict resolution.” This means thinking of the other’s needs and not your own needs when resolving conflict. This can include: choosing a place that’s more comfortable for the other, a time that’s more comfortable for the other and putting your concerns in the language of the other. For more ideas read this article.

BY TOMAS CHAMORRO-PREMUZIC, Fast Company Magazine, 4/14/21.

…As always, the ideal level of transparency can be found at the center of a continuum that ranges from no filter cruel honesty/confrontation to totally fake conflict avoidance/ingratiation. In fact, people do appreciate candid feedback, especially if they understand you have told them what they need to (but didn’t want to) hear.

…With that, here are some tips to consider:

CREATE, OR AT LEAST FIND THE RIGHT CONTEXT

Humans are emotional creatures, and even for the most phlegmatic and cool-headed person, some moments will be happier than others. If you are going to have a difficult conversation with someone and tell them something they don’t want to hear, you should start by creating the right context. Prepare them in advance, so they are not taken by surprise. Ensure that they are not going through a hard time already. For example, a Friday may be better than a Monday, during a pandemic is probably worse than a non-pandemic period, etc. Being aware of their personal circumstances is key.

CHOOSE A FORMAT THAT WORKS FOR THEM, NOT JUST FOR YOU

Have you ever been dumped via email or text? It is cruel and cold, but very convenient for the person who delivers the message. Most of us prefer impersonal, technologically mediated channels to convey unpleasant news, but they tend to make things worse. First, you will look like a chicken. Second, you will increase the probability of misinterpretations and miscommunication. Third, you will not be able to show or pick up any empathy. 

An in-person message, or the closest we can get to these days (video call), may work best, even if it is not your preferred option. That said, if the other person is highly introverted, reserved, and private, they may appreciate a heads-up via email or text, with the option to discuss in-person or via video later. Try to adapt to them, know their style, and make an effort to adjust to it.

REMEMBER THAT YOU COULD BE WRONG

Most disagreements are clarified once a discussion takes place. This is both humbling and encouraging because it provides the biggest incentive for bringing up difficult topics and having challenging conversations with others. If something bothers you about someone, or you think they need to hear something, then bringing it up is the only way to address the issue. 

Most importantly, it is a great opportunity to understand the person better and get a sense of whether you may have been wrong. If you disagree, then being aware of your disagreements is quite helpful, especially if you can find a way of living with your differences, and turns these differences into an actual strength. As Churchill said, “If two people agree, one of them is unnecessary.”

Read more at … https://www.fastcompany.com/90624750/how-to-have-difficult-conversations-at-work?

ALTRUISM & Are Evangelicals More Altruistic than Other Groups? Research shows …

by Ryan Burge, The Exchange, Christianity Today, 4/26/19.

… The General Social Survey asked respondents about acting in selfless ways in a number of scenarios both in 2012 and 2014. Here are the eleven situations that were asked about on the GSS: gave blood, gave food or money to a homeless person, returned money after getting too much change, allowed a stranger to go ahead of you in line, volunteered for a nonprofit, gave money to a charity, offered a seat to a stranger, looked after plants/pets for others while they are away, carried a stranger’s belongings, gave directions to a stranger, and let someone borrow an item of value.

Some of these actions are obviously more costly than other ones, but they all speak to a sense of genuine kindness and care for other people, which is something we should expect to see from Christians. So, how often do various religious traditions engage in each of these acts? The figure below tells an interesting story.

Note that there is not a lot of variation between the religious traditions.

…It may be helpful to look at places where evangelicals seem to do better than average. For instance, evangelicals are more likely to give money to charity than those who have no religious faith, but that seems like a somewhat unfair comparison because the offering plate is passed every week, while the nones have to take some initiative to make a donation.

This same is true for volunteering for a nonprofit. A significant departure also appears on the issue of giving extra money back to a cashier, where evangelicals are ten percent more likely to do so than religious nones.

There are other instances in which the nones are more likely to engage in altruism than evangelicals, though. For instance, nones are more likely to give up their seat to a stranger, as well as giving directions to someone. Taken together, it doesn’t look like people of faith significantly differentiate themselves from those who claim no religious affiliation.

To further test this, I compiled an altruism scale by adding up all 11 items and scaling them from 0 (meaning engaging in zero altruistic activities) and 100 (engaging in each of these activities multiple times a week).

…The biggest takeaway from this graph is what is not here: there is no real difference in how many acts of altruisms occur among people of faith versus those who have no religious affiliation.

I was thinking that maybe what is happening here is that nominal Catholics are being lumped in with faithfully attending Catholics or that evangelicals who go once a year to church are being grouped together with those who attend multiple times a week.

So, I had to test that idea: the more devoted one is to religious faith, the more likely one is to engage in acts of kindness to other people. The graph below splits each tradition into low-income and high-income groups because some of the acts would obviously be less costly to people who make more money (donating money, etc.).

As one moves from left to right we should expect to the line rise up, which would indicate higher scores on the altruism scale. That’s what we generally find—the more people attend services, the more altruism they engage in.

…However, the bottom right panel, which is those of no religion provides a startling result. First, note that for those nones who never attend, they act altruistically just as frequently as other Christian groups.

Read more at … https://www.christianitytoday.com/edstetzer/2019/april/are-evangelicals-more-altruistic-than-other-groups.html

NEED-MEETING & Benjamin Franklin Says This Is the Noblest Question in the World (It’s Only 7 Words)

by Melanie Curtin, Inc. Magazine, 4/11/18.

In Benjamin Franklin’s words:

“The noblest question in the world is, ‘What good may I do in it?'”

But he is perhaps best known for his role as a politician and statesman in the early days of the United States of America. And it was in large part through that work that he came up with what he called the “noblest question in the world.”

Read more at … https://www.inc.com/melanie-curtin/according-to-benjamin-franklin-this-7-word-question-is-noblest-in-world.html

NEED-MEETING & Benjamin Franklin Says This Is the Noblest Question in the World (It’s Only 7 Words)

by Melanie Curtin, Inc. Magazine, 4/11/18.

In Benjamin Franklin’s words:

“The noblest question in the world is, ‘What good may I do in it?'”

But he is perhaps best known for his role as a politician and statesman in the early days of the United States of America. And it was in large part through that work that he came up with what he called the “noblest question in the world.”

Read more at … https://www.inc.com/melanie-curtin/according-to-benjamin-franklin-this-7-word-question-is-noblest-in-world.html

WEALTH & Research shows as it increases… compassion and empathy go down.

Answer by Betty-Ann Heggie, Speaker, author, mentor on moving past gender stereotypes, on Quora, 1/25/18.

Research shows that as people’s wealth increases, their compassion and empathy go down. Poor people are more likely to be generous with money and to stop for pedestrians in the street. They may depend more on interpersonal relationships, and therefore be more attuned to them.

Read more at … https://www.quora.com/How-can-I-be-emotionally-intelligent

POWER & It decreases compassion and empathy according to research.

Answer by Betty-Ann Heggie, Speaker, author, mentor on moving past gender stereotypes, on Quora, 1/25/18

 

…As people work their way up to the highest ranks, they lose touch with the daily challenges and aspirations of people at lowest ranks. They start to see people in large groups, rather than as individuals. And they treat people as problems to solve, rather than fellow human beings to relate to. This helps explain why research finds power reduces concern for others.

… But right now, things are moving in the wrong direction. The higher up the ranks you go inside a company, the lower the EQ scores (measures of emotional intelligence) drop. A study of 1 million people by TalentSmart found that CEOs, on average, have the lowest EQ scores in the workplace.

…A helpful definition comes from Psychology Today: “the ability to identify and manage your own emotions and the emotions of others.” It’s a combination of emotional awareness, the ability to harness and apply emotions to tasks, and the ability to manage and regulate emotions.

Read more at … https://www.quora.com/How-can-I-be-emotionally-intelligent

HUMILITY & How Felix Mendelssohn Championed the Music of a Rival

by Bob Whitesel 10/20/14

Here we uncover the story of a man whose selfless acts would ensure that his place in history would be downplayed, and that the memory of an earlier rival would be esteemed.

This Christian’s story is drawn from the annuals of musical history, a genre that some may deduce to be a rather unlikely arena for a course on church leadership. But this man’s aptitude toward honoring others makes him worthy of our scrutiny.

Praise the Lord.

Praise God in His sanctuary; praise Him in his mighty heavens…

Let everything that has breath praise the Lord.

Praise the Lord.

Psalm 150. 1, 6 (NIV)

What kind of humility does it take to overlook your own emerging career and champion the artistic efforts of an earlier rival? Felix Mendelssohn was not only one of the most successful composers of his time, but also a champion of the all but forgotten works of Johann Sebastian Bach. By Mendelssohn’s time, Bach’s brilliant concertos, fugues and symphonies had suffered decades of obscurity. Mendelssohn, due in part to a strong religious faith he shared with Bach, sought to reintroduce the world to Bach’s genus and skill.

Mendelssohn’s letters reveal a deep and abiding faith in God. The Bible served as not only the cornerstone of his life, but also as the inspiration for his work, such as the celebrated oratorios Elijah and Saint Paul. Once when a librettist altered the Biblical text of his composition, Mendelssohn observed, “I have time after time had to restore the precise text of the Bible. It is the best in the end.”

Mendelssohn had been impressed since a youth with Bach’s The Passion According to Saint Matthew. From the time he first sung it as a young choirboy he had been touched. As a successful adult he set out to “recover” and champion Bach’s neglected music. He personified the admonition of Psalm 150 to “Let everything that has breath praise the Lord.” He sought to breath new life into the majestic compositions of Bach, reintroducing them to a new generation and assuring these majestic praises would be given a voice for posterity. So impressed was Mendelssohn by one of Bach’ choruses that he wrote, “If life had taken hope and faith from me, this single chorus would restore all.”

It required a great degree of humility and grace to champion the genus of an earlier rival. Today we recognize Bach as one of the greatest composers of all time chiefly because of Mendelssohn’s efforts. Mendelssohn’s labor might best be summed up in the verse “Let everything that has breath, praise the Lord.”

Sometimes it is necessary to acknowledge others in lieu of ourselves. Such modesty and humbleness allows others to share in our successes. When you feel envious or resentful of another’s talents, the best remedy may be to focus on the giver of those capabilities.

ENVY & When Your Gain Is My Pain and Your Pain Is My Gain: How you are programmed to envy others

Commentary by Dr. Whitesel: “There is a reason we envy other people’s success and that we rejoice when they fall from grace. And scientists have found this is built into the chemical reactions of our brain. This should be further evidence that an inclination toward sin is built into each of us … to which Christ offers the ultimate answer.”

Journal article by Hidehiko Takahashi1,2,3,*, Motoichiro Kato4, Masato Matsuura2, Dean Mobbs5, Tetsuya Suhara1, Yoshiro Okubo6, Science Magazine, vol. 323, no. 5916, pp. 937-939

ABSTRACT

We often evaluate the self and others from social comparisons. We feel envy when the target person has superior and self-relevant characteristics. Schadenfreude occurs when envied persons fall from grace. To elucidate the neurocognitive mechanisms of envy and schadenfreude, we conducted two functional magnetic resonance imaging studies. In study one, the participants read information concerning target persons characterized by levels of possession and self-relevance of comparison domains. When the target person’s possession was superior and self-relevant, stronger envy and stronger anterior cingulate cortex (ACC) activation were induced. In study two, stronger schadenfreude and stronger striatum activation were induced when misfortunes happened to envied persons. ACC activation in study one predicted ventral striatum activation in study two. Our findings document mechanisms of painful emotion, envy, and a rewarding reaction, schadenfreude.

Read more at … http://www.sciencemag.org/content/323/5916/937

LEADERSHIP & The Best Leaders Are Humble Leaders #HarvardBusinessReview

Commentary by Dr. Whitesel: “This research indicates that leaders that demonstrate “altruistic leadership” are more successful at reaching objectives. This requires putting the team first and empowering them, ahead of the leader’s interests (hence, the term altruistic or other-centered leadership). See how this applies to the church in ORGANIX: Signs of Leadership in a Changing Church (Abingdon Press, 2012) the chapter on ‘O = Others’.”

by Jeanine Prime, Harvard Business Review