User story:

Susan Boshoff
I hated conflict before, but now I realise conflict is good – so long as you can handle it constructively.
Beyond Metrics / User Stories / Susan Boshoff

If you struggle with conflict management, Mygrow will be a great tool for you. 

As a leader, the ability to handle conflict is an absolutely essential skill but it’s a skill I have lacked in the past. I hated conflict before, but now I realise conflict is good – so long as you can handle it constructively. 

I have found it difficult in the past to handle conflict. In all my relationships – at home with my husband and my child, but even more so at work.

When I have had to discipline a team member for inappropriate behaviour, I have found myself freezing as soon as they start to get defensive and aggressive. This is not ideal, of course. As a manager, I didn’t know how to set a boundary and be appropriately assertive. How can you lead people when you allow yourself to get shut down when there is conflict? This was a struggle for me. 

My lack of ability to manage these situations well meant I absolutely dreaded any kind of conflict.  I would walk away from these interactions feeling incompetent as a leader and I doubted myself. But the other unfortunate result was that my lack of assertive leadership meant that that person would feel their behaviour and responses to me were justified. So that made me even less confident, and more terrified to engage in more conflict to rectify it. It’s really hard to know how to proceed with all of that and I found myself doing the “ostrich thing,” and putting my head in the sand. 

Perhaps the thing that has helped me the most from Mygrow has been the breathing techniques that I have begun to use in those moments. They give me enough distance from the emotion to step back a little and say “Wait a minute, I’m the leader here, I’m the one in charge and I need to handle this as an adult.” It’s helped me to not slip back into “child” responses, but to calmly stand my ground.

“Being assertive doesn’t mean being aggressive, and I have found that by taking that step back I have been able to be more rational. Instead of freezing, now I pause and then engage.”

The change I have seen in my subordinates has been very clear to see. No one has said anything specific but I can see in their body language that I now have more authority. Not in a bad way, but in a more confident way. I am less threatened by them and I can see they have shifted from “I’m going to attack you” to realising “I am subordinate to you.” It’s been massive for me and has built my confidence back up tremendously. I have grown in my leadership and I am much kinder to myself. I don’t persecute myself and my self-talk has changed. 

As a result, I have seen the team dynamic change for the better too. We talk differently as a team. We still have some way to go, but we are getting there. I know this is a process that will take time, but I am seeing fruit, so I am glad to be on the journey.


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