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Thread: non-controlling behaviors

  1. #41
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    Quote Originally Posted by "?" View Post
    which would be the In Charge type (ENTJ, ESTP, ESTJ and ENFJ).
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  2. #42
    Plumage and Moult Array proteanmix's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by "?" View Post
    Based on Interaction Styles, I would say that would be the Behind the Scenes types that include INTP, ISFP, ISFJ and INFP. Compare this with the types that typicaly try to control people in situations which would be the In Charge type (ENTJ, ESTP, ESTJ and ENFJ).
    Quote Originally Posted by Maverick View Post
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    LOL. I was looking at the OP and thinking "What is this strange thing she speaks of?" :confused:
    Relationships have normal ebbs and flows. They do not automatically get better and better when the participants learn more and more about each other. Instead, the participants have to work through the tensions of the relationship (the dialectic) while they learn and group themselves and a parties in a relationships. At times the relationships is very open and sharing. Other time, one or both parties to the relationship need their space, or have other concerns, and the relationship is less open. The theory posits that these cycles occur throughout the life of the relationship as the persons try to balance their needs for privacy and open relationship.
    Interpersonal Communication Theories and Concepts
    Social Penetration Theory 1
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  3. #43
    darkened dreams Array labyrinthine's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by proteanmix View Post
    LOL. I was looking at the OP and thinking "What is this strange thing she speaks of?" :confused:

    You charm me to no end, proteanmix.
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  4. #44
    Protocol Droid Array Athenian200's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by proteanmix View Post
    LOL. I was looking at the OP and thinking "What is this strange thing she speaks of?" :confused:
    It's okay... we need people like you who are more direct and immediate about what you want, because otherwise nothing would get done in the real world. Believe me, the more distant style of most Introverts is not an advantage in most situations you'll encounter, although it could be in situations like developing strategies and such.

  5. #45


    Quote Originally Posted by faith View Post
    It's so interesting to read this, especially right now. Because I want things to be ordered and appropriate, everyone (including me) seems to think that I want to control people. But I've discovered I really don't, and it's causing me some problems in teaching high school.

    I really expect other people to police themselves and keep themselves under control, doing the right thing at the right time. I'll remind them if necessary, but after that I'm reluctant to take harsher measures. I want to give them every opportunity to do what's appropriate on their own initiative. When they continuously neglect or refuse to do this, it makes me angry because they're disturbing and disrupting the ordered flow of the classroom.

    It shouldn't make me angry, I know. The fact that this is my initial reaction aggravates me all the more.

    I want to discuss this more; I'm very curious to find out more about my own reactions and reasons for them so that I can manage my classroom better. My students are coming in now and I have to go, though. I'll check back later.
    I hope you don't mind, Faith, but I'm going to spin your post as negatively as I can in order to make my point glaringly obvious. It's not about you, of course. I'm just using your post as a springboard to set up a hypothetical classroom environment--a very negative one. I want to create a very obvious bad example of ineffectual communications in a hypothetical classroom and then contrast it to a subsequent good example of clear communications.

    I'm going to spin the classroom situation as a form of passive-aggressive behavior on the part of the teacher. Usually passive-aggressive behavior is described as directed at undermining authority. But in a broader sense it can be any aggression towards others expressed indirectly or passively. So in this case the teacher is exhibiting passive-aggressive behavior toward the children.

    Thus, here is a high level of aggressiveness on the part of the teacher (showing a high degree of desired intervention in the children's affairs):

    The teacher's train of thought: "The children need to show a high degree of order, appropriateness, and control in my classroom. Even their timing should be perfect--the right thing at the right time. They can be 'unique individuals' somewhere else, away from my classroom. But when they're here in my classroom, I really do expect them to meet my personal expectations in full."

    Here is the high degree of passiveness in the teacher's communications:

    The teacher's train of thought: "I have very high expectations of them, but I refuse to exert control over other people. The initiative should come from them. They should police themselves and keep themselves under control. So I'll just give them occasional reminders and otherwise just wait for them to figure out and/or demonstrate on their own what I want from them. Of course their poor behavior causes me to be angry all the time, but they can just suffer with that until they finally figure out on their own what I need from them."

    To sum up:

    In this case, the aggressive act is the teacher's desire to impose on the children a very high degree of compliance and obedience. The children are effectively hijacked by the teacher's short-term need for obedience. The children's needs and desires really aren't anywhere in the picture; the children are only evaluated by one yardstick--whether they do or don't behave according to the teacher's expectations. The passivity, in turn, shows up in the teacher's desire to avoid any appearance of obvious control; so she gives the children minimal guidance and mainly just wishes they would improve on their own--and radiates anger when they don't.

    This kind of passive-aggressive behavior sets up an atmosphere of failure for the classroom. The children know from the teacher's anger that they are failing her, but she isn't providing them the kind of clear guidance and structure they would need in order to even begin to meet her high expectations of order and control.

    (Again, that's a really negative spin. It's a worst-case scenario, and not any reflection on your post, Faith. I don't pretend for a second to know the specifics of your situation from a couple sentences in your short post.)

    In contrast, for the good example of clear communications, I'll use an environment I'm more familiar with--say, a foreman in charge of a shift of blue-collar factory workers.

    Here is a low level of aggressiveness/intervention:

    The foreman's train of thought:

    "I've just arrived here and I've been assigned this shift of workers, and frankly it's a pretty rough crowd. It looks like barely controlled chaos around here. But they've been working here a while without getting fired, so they must know what they're doing. I'll work with that idea in mind, and not worry so much about the fact that they're rough around the edges.

    "Initially I'll concentrate on hammering home a few of the most important work guidelines so that there's no question that at least a minimum of discipline is observed. It's best to stick to basics at first--they'll need time to tune in and get used to taking orders from me. In the meantime I can look them over, check out their strengths and weaknesses, and fine-tune some appropriate punishments and rewards to get the most out of them over the longer-term.

    "I'm going to keep in mind that I can't turn them into clones of me. They come with their own strengths and weaknesses, and I have to work with that. Sometimes it means that projects are going to be done half-assed by my standards, and there won't be anything I can do about it right away; sometimes I'll have to settle for "good enough." On the other hand, some of these guys are going to have strengths and knowledge that I don't have, and I'll try to keep an eye out for those and find a good use for them."

    Here is a low level of passivity (that is, a high level of interaction):

    The foreman's train of thought:

    "There is a lot of diversity in the workers here. That means I probably want to keep my rules and guidelines simple and clear, at least initially, so that everyone gets the message. I'll hammer the messages home with lots of repetition until I'm quite sure that everyone is clear on exactly what I want from them. Otherwise, the workers tend to garble what I tell them. Everyone has their own wavelength, and it takes a while before we all start really tuning each other in.

    "If there are any discipline problems here, that's fine--I don't mind making an example of one or two and taking disciplinary action if absolutely necessary. My initial rules will be pretty basic and bottom-line, so no one should have a need to challenge them except out of sheer bad blood--in which case we need to get that straightened out. They need to know who's in charge.

    "On the other hand, I don't want to crush them and take away their spirit or initiative. I can't be arbitrary about exercising authority, and I can't assume they operate by the same rules that I've learned. They're only accountable for whatever I've communicated clearly to them. Beyond that, I'll try to give them a break on discipline problems the first time out and only subsequently increase penalties in a gradual and predictable fashion. I need to build trust and loyalty, and the best way I can do that is to be crystal clear about what I expect from them and then be fair, open, and predictable in enforcing it.

    "Over the longer-term, once they're used to taking orders from me, I'll be needing them to work independently and show initiative. So as soon as we're over the initial adjustment, I'll want to lighten up on the oversight and shift the incentives increasingly from punishments to rewards. As I get more confidence in the team and confirm that I can trust them to work without me looking over their shoulder, I'll pull aside a couple of the senior workers and try giving them some extra responsibility. I'll give them independent projects, have them report to me daily to show me their progress, and I'll monitor whether they're maintaining the pace and quality I need. If all goes well, I'll give them more independence, training and authority until they can cover for me when I have to be out or take vacation."

    To sum up:

    The foreman is taking over a working shift. If there are no immediate crises to be addressed, then the foreman doesn't intend much initial intervention in the way things currently operate (low aggressiveness). He keeps his initial expectations and goals low and mainly focuses on securing his authority and monitoring minimum levels of discipline. Over time, as he and the workers interact more closely, he can fine-tune selectively and start shaping the team according to his needs.

    OTOH, the foreman isn't passive in his interactions with the workers. The initial stage may in fact require a lot of interaction and repetitious communication with the workers. Later stages may see him granting greater independence to most of the workers while focusing on training a couple promising people for team leadership positions. So it's never really a question of being a control freak (or avoiding being a control freak). Instead, it's about setting reasonable goals and then interacting to whatever degree is appropriate to achieve the goals. Priorities will change over time, and so the level of oversight or independence will change as well.

    So, to sum up:

    Bad example: High aggressiveness and high passivity = a high need to intervene and control the behavior of others, coupled with poor communication and low guidance about what behaviors are actually expected.

    Good example: Low aggressiveness and low passivity = low initial need to intervene and control the behavior of others, coupled with good communication and lots of interaction aimed at shaping a team environment over the long-term.

    Quote Originally Posted by toonia View Post
    I see two issues emerging in this discussion.

    1. The need to state expectations clearly so that both parties have the information they need to act.

    2. How to implement the consequences of not meeting those expectations.

    It can be easier to implement consequences if they are designed as part of a pre-planned system. The difficulty can arise when the leader has to improvise during real-time power struggles with subordinates. Once a certain level of pressure is introduced, it is wise to maintain it consistently. This is one thing that held me back from calling out students who were late (or whatever) and such things. Once you start that, it is important to do it every time, and the more passive person will be required to deflect energy and focus that could have been spent elsewhere. I find in leadership you must choose your battles, and choose the ones you can maintain in the moment and every time it comes up.
    I'll stop here and deal with the issue of implementing consequences and handling discipline in a separate post tomorrow. It's a legitimate and important concern with some interesting applications.

  6. #46


    Quote Originally Posted by FineLine View Post
    I'll stop here and deal with the issue of implementing consequences and handling discipline in a separate post tomorrow. It's a legitimate and important concern with some interesting applications.
    Okay, Toonia, let me take the example of penalizing students who come in late to class.

    In the OP, initially it seems as though the problem is beneath your notice: "I tended to overlook that kind of thing and even though it caused some disruption, it simply didn't seem worth addressing." Later, in another context, you mention that lateness sometimes causes problems for you, but that it's easier to adjust your own schedule than to bug your students about it: "I vary the schedule as needed am not bothered by cancellations or when they are late -unless it affects the next one, and then I'm not 'bothered', but just have a problem to resolve." Finally, in your latest post, you approach the general problem of discipline in the classroom as a power struggle and conclude that you just don't want to get started down that road because you want to keep your focus on teaching and not waste energy on disciplinary matters.

    Basically, my own feeling is: If the students' lateness isn't a problem, then there's no reason to make a big deal out of it. In other words, I'm not one of those people who advocates enforcing rules just because they're rules. On the other hand, if someone else's carelessness is putting me or others out and it's an ongoing problem (and not just a one-time thing), then I would prefer to address it and put the burden back on the person causing it. Assertiveness, and all that.

    There are lots of reasons why one may not want to go down the road of being a disciplinarian. You already mentioned a couple: you can just take the lateness into account and work around it; and it's an expenditure of energy to get into power struggles with the students, and you want to stay focused on teaching. There are others as well: I don't want to be a narc for the school system when it comes to petty infractions; I think I'm a more effective teacher when I'm on friendly terms with the students, and policing them would ruin that vibe; etc.

    Of course there are arguments for policing the students: You mentioned that school policy does require you to police the students for these infractions; if the school pays you, they have a right to set policy and expect you to enforce it. So you're ripping off the school by not enforcing their policy, and you could conceivably end up between a rock and a hard place if the school were to find out and make it an issue. Then there's the issue of some students taking further advantage; give them an inch and they'll take a mile. Then there's the issue of other people you might be inconveniencing by rescheduling around the students, such as the more punctual students getting irritated by your deferring to late students and wasting time repeating material for them, or other faculty getting irritated that you're being too lax with students while they're having to carry the burden of trying to enforce some rules. And so on.

    In the end, it's up to you. Like I said, I'm not one of those people who advocates enforcing rules just because they're rules. (To be honest, I'm usually late for everything myself, so lateness isn't something I usually police closely.) You could even choose a middle ground: You could choose to give the students a little leeway initially and wait and see--if the students start abusing the privilege later, you could crack down at that time. (That's probably the approach I would take initially.)

    But just for future reference, I'll point out that it's not that difficult to institute basic discipline. Furthermore, in my experience it takes less energy to enforce a little basic discipline than to have to adjust to the liberties that kids sometimes take, especially if the kids start taking advantage and abusing their privileges. When I'm in the workplace, I don't mind giving young folks a break when possible. But I'll be pretty quick to tighten the leash if I see them getting out of hand.

    Okay, that was the philosophical part of the discussion, just to show you that I'm not merely some kind of anal-retentive rules nazi and that I understand that it's a judgment call to some extent. The next post will be about how to enforce discipline (in case one decides that it's necessary or useful).

  7. #47


    Quote Originally Posted by FineLine View Post
    Okay, that was the philosophical part of the discussion, just to show you that I'm not merely some kind of anal-retentive rules nazi and that I understand that it's a judgment call to some extent. The next post will be about how to enforce discipline (in case one decides that it's necessary or useful).
    Let's do this quick and dirty. I won't bother going through all the various kinds of infractions and punishments out there, nor will I try to use the real-world example of late college students and try to anticipate all the real-world considerations involved. Let me just use the hypothetical example of a new foreman in charge of a shift at a factory, as described in yesterday's post. That should be enough to establish the basic principles.

    Lateness is going to be an issue in shift work: when the old shift is ready to leave, the new shift has to be in place to pick up the work. There is always some leeway or extra capacity (people need to take time off for sick or vacation days), so I have some ability to put up with late arrivals. But the late arrivals are going to be obvious to everyone. And it's going to create some ill will across time if I'm repeatedly burdening the on-time folks by making them work harder until the late folks arrive.

    So some kind of penalty system for lateness is in order. And I'll probably have to enforce it, especially since I'm new and I can't count on people to be punctual solely out of loyalty.

    Since I'm new, I don't necessarily know the company's (or my boss's) precise policy on punishing lateness. So I consult my boss about it.

    This brings up the first (and only) rule on disciplinary matters: When in doubt, kick it upstairs (IOW, take it to the boss). As a foreman, I'm primarily a floor worker. Disciplinary matters are admin matters. My boss is an admin person. So disciplinary matters fall under my boss's jurisdiction. I may end up implementing and enforcing the policy, but I don't make policy. Policy-making belongs to the admin people.

    So I go to my boss, the Department head, and ask about policy. He says, "The workers are allowed 3 demerits. You log the demerits in the book, and on the third demerit you send them to me and I dock their paycheck." Fine.

    There's no particular reason to notify the workers of the policy, since they should be well aware of it already. But just to let the workers know what kind of foreman I am, I publicly announce to all the workers that I will indeed be enforcing the late policy, and I remind them how it works.

    On the second day, worker Z arrives 30 minutes late, visibly shaken and agitated, and says he had a sick child. Furthermore, he already has two demerits on record and desperately needs his full pay next week. Okay, since it's my first brush with the fellow, I might well make a judgment call and tell him to work an extra 30 minutes after work or come in 30 minutes early the next day. As the person enforcing policy, the foreman usually has a little leeway to interpret how policy is enforced. And even if it turns out the guy is BS-ing me, there's usually no harm in erring on the side of mercy. But I warn Z that there won't be any second breaks.

    The very next day Z arrives 30 minutes late again, visibly shaken and agitated, and says his child was sick again. I say, "Sorry, I have to log the demerit and you have to go see the Department head." Z gets quite worked up and begs me to give him a break like I did the previous day. I look at him sympathetically and say, "I would love to, but I can't. My boss says the policy is strict, and I don't intend to lose my job by disobeying the boss on my first week here. I figured I could justify letting you off the hook once, but there's no way I can do it twice in two days. Talk to the boss and tell him your story--maybe he'll give you the break you need."

    Z complains a bit longer, says the Department head will never give him a break, etc. I hear him out, I nod sympathetically, but in the end I point him to the Department head's door and send him up there.

    There's no power struggle, no particular reason on my side to get worked up; it doesn't really even involve me. I'm primarily a floor worker. Disciplinary matters are admin matters. My boss is an admin person. So disciplinary matters fall under my boss's jurisdiction. It really has nothing to do with me. Kick it upstairs, where it belongs.

    When disciplinary matters pop up, the fairest and truest thing I can say is, "Sorry, but it's not my choice. It's company policy. I'm not going to jeopardize my job by disobeying policy." The implication is obvious: You got yourself into this mess, so you can suffer the consequences.

    And assuming the penalties aren't horribly draconian, then there's no particular harm in letting a guy take a fall that he has earned. If the short paycheck really hurts him, he can get a loan from his buddies. I myself will probably keep an eye on him; if he reports on time for the next week or two, maybe I'll look for ways to cut him some slack somewhere else. But for now, there's no great injury done by letting him take a fall that he has earned.

    And there's no power struggle. I can even be sympathetic; we're both cogs in the machine, and sooner or later the machine wins. He may be irritated at me afterward, but he'll get over it. Meantime, it's nothing to me either way. It's all automatic. I don't have to growl at him or treat him like a pariah; he gets his punishment upstairs, the slate is wiped clean, and we start fresh. If he mends his ways, he could even turn out to be a good worker.

    I think this is the point that avoidant bosses miss when they refuse to confront erring workers: There's no reason to get riled, no reason for bad blood afterward, no reason to see this as a power struggle. It's just automatic: You kick it upstairs. Even if I choose to impose a minor penalty myself, like a good scolding, it's all done very dispassionately. There's no investment in it from my side. I don't make policy.

    Discipline is an admin matter, so it gets handled administratively. It gets kicked upstairs. Even if I execute the punishment myself, there's still no stake in it for me either way. Policy comes from upstairs.

    Furthermore, the workers understand all this. They may be miffed at me initially, but they get over it. Meantime, there's a good reason for them not to hold it against me for too long. I'm the foreman, and I do have some discretion in how I enforce policy, in terms of making life difficult or easy for them. If I enforce policy fairly and with discretion, then they have reason to be grateful for that--because there are definitely foremen around who abuse their powers. (And if the workers get too miffed at the way I treat them, sometimes it doesn't hurt to turn up the heat on them briefly to remind them that things could be worse.)

    But really, that's the secret of maintaining discipline in a company or organizational setting: Don't get personally and emotionally invested in one's disciplinary role. Kick it upstairs. Discipline is an admin matter, so let the admin folks tinker with the fine points of discipline. I'm just a foreman--a low-level manager. I deal with discipline the same way I deal with every other aspect of my job: without a whole lot of emotional investment.

    That was the practical aspect of discipline. I'll write up one more post about the theoretical aspect of discipline, just to provide one more perspective.

  8. #48


    Quote Originally Posted by FineLine View Post
    That was the practical aspect of discipline. I'll write up one more post about the theoretical aspect of discipline, just to provide one more perspective.
    Most organizational work settings are divided into a main arena or activity, on one hand, and peripheral support services, on the other. For example, in a factory the main production floor would be a big arena in the center of the building; in a ring around the outside of the arena would be offices for Admin, Legal, Human Resources Department, Tech Services, Shipping and Dispatch, etc. The main production floor is the reason the factory exists in the first place, and work has to proceed there uninterruptedly. Anything non-essential to production (or that might interfere with production) is kept away from the main arena and steered to the peripheral offices.

    Same thing at a university. Classrooms are the heart of the campus; admin matters are steered away from the classrooms and compartmentalized in the Admissions Office, Student Loans office, Faculty offices, etc. At an arena, the boxing ring is the main arena; around the periphery are ticket vendors, management, food services, legal, gaming commission inspectors, etc.

    The idea of this kind of compartmentalization is to isolate the main activity and keep it as free from disruption as possible. The workers on the floor don't need to be bothered by shipping activities or admin matters. Similarly, disruptions that arise on the production floor should be isolated, taken away from the production floor, and dealt with in the admin offices.

    The foreman in a factory (the teacher in a classroom, middle-level boss in an office building) serves as a liaison between the main arena and the support services (peripheral offices). But the foreman also tends to be physically located in the main arena with the workers. So non-production matters shouldn't get stuck or handled at his echelon as a rule. He shouldn't be handling tech matters, or dealing with paycheck issues, or deciding on legal matters, or worrying about shipping schedules.

    Same with disciplinary problems on the floor. As I said in my previous post, disciplinary matters are admin matters. They get pulled off the production floor and shunted to the admin offices at the periphery for consultation (legal considerations, etc.) and decision.

    Inexperienced foremen sometimes think that they have to handle disciplinary problems themselves. They have a bit of power, they're on the floor where the violations occurs, they're the direct managers of the individuals involved, etc. They figure that if they kick everything upstairs, their boss will consider them ineffectual. Or they don't want the boss's oversight because they want discretion to handle matters as they themselves think best. Or they see admin procedures as too rigid and inhumane.

    But frankly, that's what the admin office exists for in the first place. Admin decides how many workers need to be on the floor, adjusts workflow to match the workers, checks employment policy against legal requirements, etc. The foreman on the work floor is mainly there just to serve as a pair of eyes on the workflow for the bosses in Admin.

    Also, Admin is often a better place to handle problems. Trying to handle a disciplinary problem in the middle of a busy production line can be brutal. A busy production line can be a pressure cooker. Things get blown out of proportion quickly. Better to pull people out of the conflict environment and get them up to Admin so that everyone can cool down, talk things out at their leisure, and maybe consult some technicians or experts for assistance.

    The foreman is just on the floor as a liaison between the workers and Admin. He can advocate for the workers with Admin (and vice versa); if he doesn't think the punishment fits the crime, he can make the case to Admin for a reduction of a punishment. But if he tries to supplant Admin altogether or if he sets himself up as an obstacle between the workers and Admin, he is probably heading for trouble sooner or later.

    Admin needs a true picture of what's happening on the floor, and so they need good information from the foreman. Conversely, the foreman needs Admin, because his power and authority flows from them. With them at his back, he has quite a lot of power. But if he sets himself up in opposition to Admin, the workers can (and often will) use that to their advantage.

    The foreman should see himself as a link in a chain running from the bosses in Admin to the workers on the floor. Information flows up and policy flows down. If the foreman plays his proper part in the chain, then disciplinary matters won't be a problem. Knowing that he has good communications with Admin, his job becomes pretty easy. It's just a question of deciding when an attitude problem or a minor disciplinary problem has crossed the line enough to warrant talking to his boss about it.

    If he encounters a minor attitude problem among the workers, it's not a problem. He just waits it out. Either it resolves itself and disappears, or it grows big enough to talk to his boss in Admin. No emotional investment required on his part.

    And really, that's all there is to it. People get scared of leadership positions because they think they are going to get caught in a vacuum with pressures coming at them from both sides. They see compartmentalization at organizations in terms of little isolated boxes and they become afraid that all the problem issues are going to be channeled into their box. But instead they should visualize a chain with a constant flow of information going in both directions. If you're new in a position, people on either side of the chain will provide information and support. As you get experience, in turn you can generate information and ideas to support the links on either side of you.

    By the way, this kind of "compartmentalization" idea is used elsewhere. For example, think of a marriage as a production floor. When conflict arises, you don't want to blow apart the production floor and ruin the marriage. So you pull out the conflict and bring it to a marriage counselor, thereby isolating the "production floor" from disruption and keeping it operational.

    Couples can do it themselves even without the marriage counselor. Over the years couples tend to lock in a certain status quo or routine. Parts of it get out of date with the passage of time, long-standing tensions arise, and issues get tangled to the point that both parties are afraid to yield on any given issue until other issues get addressed first.

    So compartmentalize. Isolate conflict, divvy it up into little manageable chunks by putting each issue into little peripheral offices around the main arena of the marriage, and try together to look at the issues separately and dispassionately. Each issue may require a little yielding, and altogether they may result in a lot of change. But if handled separately and thus incrementally, change might not be such a fearful idea.

    Similar thing on the production floor at a factory. If a foreman gets the word to increase production 10 percent, he doesn't turn the production line upside down. He looks for bottlenecks on the production line. Then, after consultation with Admin, he isolates those areas as much as possible from the rest of the line and tweaks them one by one to try to get a better flow going over the line as a whole.

    IOW, this kind of isolation and compartmentalization may be one of the better ways to handle conflict in general. I suspect it's far better than the kind of conflict-avoidance where the teacher or foreman catches and absorbs all the conflict from all sides, and tries to keep production going by personally accommodating all the lapses of others and bending further and further.

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