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13 years at Apple, now trying to pay attention reading, paddling, snowboarding, making products, and thinking about development and leadership.

This article is for anyone who wants (or needs) to elevate their conflict game

Conflict is not a bad thing. It is integral to any group creative process, and part of how people who disagree find alignment. Since it happens all the time, you are better off to embrace it, to get good at it rather than to be afraid.

A black and white line drawing of a man with thick eye brows holding his fist in the air and swearing
A black and white line drawing of a man with thick eye brows holding his fist in the air and swearing

A friend of mine who has won medals in the actual Olympics, and built a successful business, is struggling with customer conflict.

How could they be struggling with conflict?!

It turns out that no matter your skill level, experience, or style, conflict can be an issue.

After talking to hundreds (thousands?¹) of escalated customers…


With tiny reviews for the Epson 2250, 2100, 3800, Optima UHD35 and UDH 30

The other day my friend Miles asked me which projector I chose and how I made the decision. He’s been thinking about getting a projector for a long time, but for reasons that become clear when you try to buy a projector, has never bought one. To help him out (and because it’s fun for me) I wrote a (very) long iMessage reply, which is now this article (most f words have been removed).

Mostly dates on articles don’t matter, but tech changes. This is written in June of 2021. …


Helpful Conflict Mindsets

Helpful ways to think about that other person

Because conflict can negatively impact how we feel, or think, about a person it is important to get better at having conflict conversations. If you are looking for help you can read more detail about how to do that here.

The best scenario is one where you already care about the person. In those cases, just have a good conversation. These hacks are for when you just don’t care about them.

Why bother caring about the jerk ?

Because conflict can be a dangerous thing for relationships.

We are more likely to feel worse about a human after a negative interaction with them rather than a positive…


Plus 5 quick steps to prepare

This article is an except from Hard learned hacks to deal with conflict. If you’re not sure why you might want to listen to these ideas, the full article provides more background on my experience.

There are three things to do in a conflict

  1. Agree about the subject so you can talk about the problem instead of arguing
    A conflict is just two people coming together to solve a problem. Step one is to agree about the problem. Step two is to negotiate to an agreed solution. Using my past life as an example. If the problem is that the iPhone is broken/not working let’s talk about the phone…


This article is an except from Hard learned hacks to deal with conflict. If you’re not sure why you might want to listen to these ideas, the full article provides more background on my experience.

Deescalation ensures that everyone in the conflict can think better. When we are upset we are in a fight or flight state. Literally pumping unhelpful things like adrenoline and cortisol into our brains. What we need is oxygen. Deescalating gives space for breath, which brings oxygen, which allows for thinking and further helps things to calm down.

The key to deescalation is helping the person…


A black and white photo of children, priests and nuns in front of a residential school
A black and white photo of children, priests and nuns in front of a residential school

Kids digging graves for kids. It is something out of a horror movie. Something from the Holocaust. It is Canadian history from very recent history. So recent that to call the attempted genocide of indigenous people “history” discredits the current survivors.

So recent that the child welfare system is a literally offshoot of the same system of genocide. Have you ever wondered why the indigenous population in Canada is so over represented in opioid deaths? In the prison system?

It’s not them, it’s us. It is well over a hundred years of a systemic dismantling of everything that makes someone…


And what we should do instead

Acronyms are terrible, acronyms are dumb.

I hate acronyms, I hate them all the time.

(with apologies to Fred Penner)

If you had a car that went slower when you pressed the gas you wouldn’t use it. Acronyms are exactly this for communication, but our jobs are riddled with them.

Let’s stop.

Are all acronyms bad?

Almost yes.

There are two groups of acronyms that make some sense: those used for branding, and those that have become words used by the general population.

Branding acronyms transforming a long organizational name into a short form: NASA, FBI, NFL, NBA, NHL. Their meanings are constantly re-enforced…


None of them are about cooking

Hell’s Kitchen image of Chef Gordon Ramsey in a chefs jacket with metalic angel or demon wings.
Hell’s Kitchen image of Chef Gordon Ramsey in a chefs jacket with metalic angel or demon wings.

You can learn a lot about performance if you watch enough episodes.

Disclaimer

I am not a social scientist and these ideas have not been rigorously tested in a real lab. I am a sucker for Hell’s kitchen and performance. These lessons are based observations of the show from my perspective as a leader who is fascinated by individual, team, and organizational behaviour, and really enjoys some fun, dumb tv.

Nine lessons about performance

During covid, Hells Kitchen has been my favourite show to have on the iPad while I cook, or clean.


Even when they’re not top performers

This article is from my list of nine surprising high performance lessons from Hell’s Kitchen. The show is chock full of swearing, apologies for any colourful language that finds its way in here.

Summary

  1. Diversity improves performance
  2. Bias is deep and hurts teams
  3. Top performers overcome bias to focus on actual ability/results
  4. Moves are motivating
Canadian WOmen’s Soccer Team with Medals
Canadian WOmen’s Soccer Team with Medals

Red vs Blue

The contestants line up in front of Gordon Ramsey for judgment.

Tension is high.

Who is going home?!

Chef calls a name, the contestant walks forward, sure of her defeat. …


Clarity creates calm, and is required for performance

This article is from my list of nine surprising high performance lessons from Hell’s Kitchen. The show is chock full of swearing, apologies for any colourful language that finds its way in here.

Summary

  • Clarity of expectations is an effective way to improve performance
  • Clear expectations provides stability in ambiguous, stressful, or fast passed environments
  • High expectations raise up top performers allowing leaders to see who is truly an underperforming
White clouds with blue sky above
White clouds with blue sky above

Clarity

Nobody likes being yelled at, but if you’re on Hell’s Kitchen, it’s going to happen. Gordon Ramsey swears at the chefs on the show a lot. …

Ian Rowe

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