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The Occupy Central protests in Hong Kong are thinning, but government representatives and pro-democracy leaders are due for talks tomorrow on the way forward.
The movement, which reached its peak in recent weeks, has garnered the attention of the world as students stand up for their beliefs and the government stands firm for what it believes in. Save for the exception of teargas, both parties have been largely peaceful, and it has gotten me thinking about what this can teach us about change management and dealing with friction in the workplace.
After all, every workplace is fraught with conflict – between colleagues, between leaders and employees, or between business units. It’s how you handle the drama that matters.
The Occupy Central movement isn’t yet over, but it has already taught me a number of things about how to better handle tension in the office:
1. The right to free speech cannot be taken for granted
Essentially, the responsibility for the way we communicate what we feel lies with us.
A little thought in the means of expression will probably help maintain that freedom and keep the lines of communication open, without the top team having to intervene.
2. Keeping your cool helps reinforce a stronger message
Patience, coupled with a non-confrontational approach, sounds like a pretty effective way to get the message across – whether its thousands of students gaining the attention of the world, or one person in a workplace trying to push a message upstairs.
It may work wonders (or may not work at all) but keeping a calm exterior and forward-thinking frame of mind is always preferable and more effective than an all-out attack. It also helps leave the door open to revisit the issue in the future.
3. Leadership does not always have to be a figurehead in the spotlight
No matter your own personal opinion on Occupy Central, what has happened is proof that if you truly believe in something, you can go out there and try your hardest to get it done.
I’m not suggesting anyone undermine the importance of leadership and direction, I am simply reminding us all how powerful teamwork can be when done right.