One common reality in every workplace is conflict. I always say that every human interaction has the potential for conflict, and when a diverse range of people work together every day, conflict is inevitable. Each person in your organization will have unique needs, values, desires, and perceptions, and these unique factors may at times cause stress or tension in workplace relationships.
It is important to be able to know how to identify, assess, and resolve conflicts. While conflict arises in both work and non-work situations, we will focus our energy on strategies for conflict at work.
Strategy #1: Don’t Ignore Conflict
Ignoring conflict has many consequences: increased resentment, escalation of conflict, interference from outsiders, isolation, etc. Addressing conflict early makes a more harmonious working environment and increases team ability and performance.
Strategy #2: Choose the right time and location.
Both parties need to be able to focus all of their attention on the issue at hand, so finding a neutral space and sufficient time for all participants to prepare for the meeting is critical to successful conflict resolution. One party shouldn’t feel like they are in the other party’s territory, or that they are at a disadvantage because they’ve had less prep time.
Strategy #3: Set ground rules before you begin.
One strategy: I talk, you listen; you tell me what you heard; we agree about what I said; you talk, I listen; I tell you what I heard; we agree about what you said; we identify the problem; we both suggest solutions; we agree on a solution. There should be no interruptions.
Strategy #4: Be Accommodating
Sometimes by being prepared to accommodate the other person by adapting or compromising, it gives them the freedom to do something reciprocal. In other words, choose your battles wisely and ensure that you are aiming to preserve relationships and not to isolate or denounce the other party.
Strategy #5: Don’t get side-tracked on other issues.
Refer back frequently to the problem at hand and decide on what outcomes you and the other party want, otherwise you may be tempted to digress into other territories. This will only delay or prevent a solution.
Keep in mind that there are many different approaches to resolving conflict.
Evaluate your own conflict resolution style—try to gain insight about your preferences and tendencies for interacting with others and recognize that not everyone will have the same approach. Develop your strategies and continue to refine them as you grow your business, and you will foster a much healthier and congenial working environment.
Filed under Business Development by Michael Walsh.