When I work with groups to help them end triangulation, first we map their current process for resolving their differences, and highlight how those behaviors undermine the quality of the group experience they would like to achieve.
Next, we discuss and explore alternate strategies to promote direct conversations. We focus on creating the conditions for conversations that feel safe, provide opportunities to learn about each others’ motivations, and solve issues at the lowest possible level within the organization. The practical steps a group agrees on will be unique to their workplace structures. For example, if their group has a lead, they consider whether the role of lead receives appropriate training to help group members hold their conversations. In some groups, this initial step up the hierarchy works, but not in all.
The group explores options and tests them with real and hypothetical situations. As they land on behaviors they agree on, they document them and talk about how to supportively hold each other accountable for doing what they have agreed to.
Here’s an example of three steps a group recently identified to address conflict within the unique context of their workplace. You might use it as a starting point for conversations to end triangulation in your workplace.
- Talk directly to the person you have an issue with. As you share your concern, remember the value of assuming good intent.
- If someone wants to tell you about what someone else has done or said, thank them, let them know you care, and refer them to rule #1.
- If you have tried to talk directly with the person yet need help holding the conversation effectively, talk with the lead or with the shop steward.
- Your lead or shop steward will bring you together and help by facilitating the conversation so you can speak directly with the other person. If the lead or shop steward doesn’t feel comfortable helping in this way, she can suggest you bring the issue to the supervisor.
- If you still feel you have not reached resolution, contact the supervisor. He/she can help you hold the conversation together, coach one or both of you to hold the conversation more effectively, and/or contact the King County Office of Alternative Dispute Resolution to set up a mediation or facilitation.