Conflict, at work
- I had a conversation with a coworker that reminded me (again!) of this Foreign Affairs essay. It was about receiving feedback that seemed to focus on minimizing interpersonal conflict over things like achieving goals and strategy and impact; it felt familiar.
- I’ve had coworkers and executives in other jobs that were like “people need to be more comfortable with conflict”. I’ve also been screamed at in a postmortem at a different job. So like, my feelings are mixed. Like are we talking about the absence of psychological safety, or too much of it? I dunno, I could never draw out specifics. I’m now thinking it was actually about the previous bullet point.
- Schulman makes the point that you’re either in a relationship with someone, or you aren’t.
I read this Harper’s essay about working at Wired UK by Hari Kunzru with the line:
The political economist Albert O. Hirschman famously characterized the choice that is faced by people within declining institutions as being between “voice” and “exit.” Either you speak up to change things, or you leave and look for something better.’
Which led me to find this essay about the book which pulls this lovely quote from Hirschman:
The ultimate in unhappiness and paradoxical loyalist behavior occurs when the public evil produced by the organization promises to accelerate or to reach some intolerable level as the organization deteriorates; then…the decision to exit will become ever more difficult the longer one fails to exit. The conviction that one has to stay on to prevent the worst grows all the time.
- But this is maybe now more about disfunction than exit. But I’ve also been in the position of being in difficult conflict when explaining that a certain set of strategies will lead to difficulties in attracting and retaining talent. And then most of my favorite people were gone. And then so was I.