Common Sense Services

Change & conflict management at work
Change & conflict management at work

The Zombies are coming. Take to the hills!

So, here we are then, sunny September day, all of us back from holiday, tanned, refreshed, on our best game, looking forward to a dynamic and effective work year ahead. Yay! But there, lurking in the shadows is that insidious feeling that, any minute now, you will be thinking “Oh for crying out loud! Here we go again!”

How long will it be in your workplace before you get that sinking sensation? Suddenly, you are having the same disagreement about the same issue, with the same colleagues, using the same words…

At Commonsense Services we call these situations Zombie quarrels. They are not live active disagreements but they are certainly not resting in peace for ever more.

Zombie quarrels are a very common experience. Nevertheless, they can have a downward pressure on our mental positivity and, at times, on our team’s productivity.

Some Zombie quarrels centre around predictable routines. For example, in some workplaces there is a Zombie that lurches into view each time the rotas are published for the coming month. Another common one is during the annual scrabble to book holiday at prime time – Christmas or School Holiday time.  You can identify both these Zombies by their war cry of “Its not fair!!!!!!”

Other Zombie quarrels relate to issues that we never properly resolved – that time we all assumed that someone else was going to complete that vital piece of work and nobody did, and everyone got angry with everyone else. That time when we disagreed strongly about the way forward and then avoided each other rather than talking it through.  That conversation about someone’s performance that we bottled out of half way through. All these situations and more can loom back around the corner smelling bad and being scary.

So, do we need to take to the hills, buy the biggest gun we can find and stockpile Spam and bottled water?

Well, that is one approach, but these Zombie quarrels are easier to vanquish than their hideous appearance suggests. In fact, they begin to diminish the minute we draw each other’s attention to them. A gentle recognition of their presence -  “Have you noticed how we seem to get stuck on this point? Is there another way we could look at it?” or “Does it feel to you that we have talked around this again and again?” – and we and colleagues alike begin to see them in a less terrifying light.  

Take a bolder stance like “I very much want to resolve the issues between us, what do you need me to do so that we can talk about it?” and your Zombie has collapsed to its’ knees already.

The longer the Zombie has been lurching around, the harder it is to nail but being open about its’ presence and being courageous enough to talk frankly about it will give you the upper hand every time.

And if you ever want Zombie crushing advice then please get straight in touch.