I prefer to be alone. I value people. I respect people. I can appreciate people. I don't necessarily like people.
I am doubly task-oriented. That means I have significantly more task orientation than people orientation. I don't want bad things to happen to people. I don't want people to be harmed. I just prefer to be alone and working than with people and interacting. Even relational activities tend to become tasks in my mind.
Some people will read this post (roughly 65% of all people are more <a href=”http://principledriven.com/blog/2008/12/16/conflict-resolution-tips-people-oriented-individuals-with-task-oriented-people/”>people-oriented</a> than task-oriented) and feel that I am a little bit rude and inconsiderate.
Other people (<a href=”http://principledriven.com/blog/2008/12/11/conflict-resolution-tips-task-oriented-people-with-people-oriented-individuals/”>the other 35%</a>) will read this post and think that they finally found someone who “gets” their perspective.
Potential conflict looms in that difference of perspective.
Here's a story to illustrate my point.
Several years ago, my wife and I began taking our daughters to school on most mornings to have time to connect with them for a few minutes in the morning. One morning about 18 months ago, I came almost entirely unglued with them as we were leaving because we were “behind schedule.”
For clarity sake, let me explain the situation. If we leave home before 7:40 am, we get ahead of the school buses, and I get back home at about 8:10-8:15. If we leave home after 7:40 am, we travel behind the school buses, and I get back home at about 8:30-8:45. So, a 2 or 3 minute variation in departure time can make a roughly 30 minute difference in my total drive time. Either way, the girls get to school on time. The only issue is when I return home.
On the morning in question, I had no appointments or specific time commitments that would be impacted by the extra drive time. Still, I was ready to kill my daughters because they were making me “late” for appointments that I didn't have.
Looking back, it's really pretty funny. I chose to do something for a relational purpose and, for me, it became a task. I completely forgot the relationship side of the “drive the kids to school” plan, and I started to focus only on the task component (the time invested in it).
Fortunately, I realized my misplaced focus, and I apologized to my daughters that evening. We all learned from the experience, and we moved on to a higher level of mutual understanding.
Conflict can come from many different things. In my experience, a large number of workplace conflicts come from a difference in these perspectives. Task-oriented people viewing relational activities as tasks and people-oriented people viewing tasks as a chance to interact with people. When the two perspectives collide, sparks can fly.
In my case, I have to force myself to see the importance of investing time in building relationships with others. I have to quiet the voice in my head that constantly asks me what I am accomplishing every waking minute. I have to accept that building a relationship can actually be “doing something productive.”
I have learned that one of the keys to effectively resolving conflict is the ability to see both the people AND the task side of an issue instead of taking a people OR a task perspective. Both are important. Both bring value.
Which way do you naturally lean? What do you need to do to be more in balance? When you are in balance, you can be the catalyst for resolving many workplace conflicts.