23 Jun 2010


We are deeply into the second session of our 44th Total Leadership Connections program and I am still amazed when the dots between our backgrounds and work issues become clear.


In the present group is a young woman who grew up in a communist country and we had the privilege of hearing a first hand report of the tests and trials her family had to endure.


The key story was about her grandfather who ran a poultry farm and while they were not a capitalistic for profit company, the chickens were there to feed the workers and the people in the town.


The “managers” (i.e. communist party personnel) who were higher up on the pecking order would come every Friday to take more than their fair share of the chickens for themselves. This would go on week after week. I think here it would be called extortion.


Finally the grandfather said “No” that they could not take the food that belonged to the workers. He took a strong stand that had hard repercussions. “They came and got him one evening and he was put in jail for eight years.”


There was no safety to speak out. The rest of the TLC group was mesmerized by this true story. With all the negatives that we face in our very complex culture it is easier to speak out or leave a situation that it was in Poland, Czechoslovakia, and the like.


This woman is a spark of truth telling both in our program and at work. She has “gotten herself in a mess” at times for speaking so forcefully when she sees injustice at work.


Understanding where the spark started, even before she was born to not be a passive individual to “just let things happen“, was a relief for her. She had never put together that her family legacy to speak up no matter, what was a part of what formed her.


By the end of her presentation she looked around the room, looked at those who are sharing this part of her professional and personal journey with her and with deeper knowledge thanked them for their questions and comments.


Her biggest take away is that she has both the courage and capacity to question, to continue to question, and to speak up even if it is uncomfortable.


She ended by saying “I now realize that I was always looking for places with no stress and they don’t exist. I owe it to my grandfather and all those who were willing to risk speaking out to continue to do so. The absence of tension is an illusion of peace.”


We all learned a vital lesson not to sweep uncomfortable situations under the rug, at home or at work.

3 Responses to Workplace Conflict Can Be a Good Thing
  1. [...] Workplace Conflict Can Be a Good Thing | Sylvia Lafair's Blog [...]

  2. Hey Sylvialafair,
    Interesting Thoughts I work at a nationwide pizza chain in my local college town. Ever since I started working there(4 months ago) I have endured much teasing and insults. I’m an easy target because I just laugh about it. I also don’t stand up for myself and can’t come up with witty comebacks.

    Yesterday, this one supervisor was really digging into me with insults such as “I hope you die” and “you are worthless.” He really got under my skin. I waited till there were no customers in the store and pushed him. I then proceeded to get in his face stating that “he should show me the same amount of respect that I show for him” and that I was sick of his BULL.

    He called me and asked if I was serious which I gave a rambling answer of YES. He then apologized.

    Did I handle this situation correctly? What could I have done better?
    Good Job!

  3. Hi Clarence,
    Great that you responded to one of my blogs from 2010. In it I talked about our 44thTotal Leadership Connections Program. Amazingly, we are starting the 50th March 7-9, 2012.
    I want to congratulate you for moving from the pattern of AVOIDER to be an INITIATOR! Good Work,
    Instead of ignoring or “laughing it off” which would eventually keep you stresses out, you took action.
    What could you have done differently? Instead of rambling when he asked if you were serious, a simple YES would have been enough. In any case, keep up thransforming patterns; it’s what the world needs now.

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