Communication (or lack thereof) as a Cause of Conflicts

Wild Goats FightingMy first job as a development director was with an organization that had been through five development people in the five years prior to my arrival. As you can probably imagine, several of the staff (and board) members weren’t all that excited to meet me – or to help me get started (I can’t blame them – they just figured they’d have to do it again within a few months time). It was baptism by fire!

During the course of that job, I learned a lot about meeting people where they’re at and about engaging people (in ways that they’re comfortable with) in the development process. The success of a fundraising program relies on so many pieces of the organization working together – accounting, technology, communications, program. In fact, it really takes the whole organization working together for a fundraising program to be truly successful.

From what I’ve seen, there are three common causes of conflict:

  1. A belief that everyone else is just like us
  2. A tendency to think that the area we work in is the most important
  3. Focusing on what we hear – rather than what was intended

We’re Not All Alike. I confess that I am not a detail-oriented person. However, I have the utmost respect for those who do. I also confess that I used to get really irritated with people who dwell on details. Over time (and through communications profiles such as DISC and Myers Briggs) I’ve come to have a much greater respect for the importance of diversity on work teams. It ensures that we will be less likely to overlook items essential to the success of our project (among other benefits).

We’re Equally Important. While there could probably be some very energetic conversations about the most important area of an organization (programs / fundraising / operations), the truth is that none of the areas of an organization could be successful without the others (we need money to operate programs, but we need strong programs to warrant funding and we need good systems in place to assure that every is operating smoothly).

Communication (especially listening) is The Key! Communications is an ongoing challenge for people – as evidenced by the deluge of self-help books covering this topic and the increasing number of coaches focusing on this area. We have two people using the same words, but meaning very different things.

Have you stumbled into any of these lately? What did you do to overcome them?


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