How do you handle conflict in the workplace?
Some people are combative, some are over-reactive, some are immediately on the offensive, some are evasive, some are defensive, and some have a private little meltdown in the supply closet or bathroom -- then emerge pretending there is no such thing as conflict.
Will you let conflict in the workplace make your "9-to-5" a misery, or can you rise above it -- or perhaps even channel the conflict into something positive?
After all, conflict in itself is not inherently negative, it merely signifies differences in opinions, beliefs, philosophies, and methodologies.
If you think of conflict as a catalyst for improvement, you’ll be well on your way to mastering it and reducing the level of stress that it can cause.
As Gandhi once said, “Honest differences are often a healthy sign of progress.”
Conflict resolution is an art, a skill that can be learned, and a phenomenal leadership quality that will not go unnoticed in your workplace.
Like many leadership traits, knowing how to resolve conflict is a skillset that can be learned and honed with patience and practice.
Here are seven, time-tested techniques to conquer conflict:
- Remember to go for a win-win. Dealing with conflict is not just about getting what you want at another person’s expense. Having a win-win mindset opens you up to solutions that can work for all parties, and will leave your relationships intact or even improved.
- Address conflict head on. “I notice that we seem to have a conflict about this,” is a nice, neutral way of opening the discussion.
- Plan what you want to say, making sure there is no sign of defensiveness, blame, anger, condescension, judgment, righteousness or attack in your words. Think “neutral,” like Switzerland! When dealing with other people, perception is reality. How others perceive your words/body language/facial expressions/tone is the foundation of their response, and vice versa.
- Ask questions and restate what you believe you heard. It’s possible your positions are not so far apart after all, but even if you are, clarity is the key to resolving conflict.
- Remember, it takes two to make a conflict. So, own your side of it: “I overreacted.” “I guess I misunderstood what you were saying, can you please clarify?” “I know I always get a little excited over things like that.”
- Share your feelings with “I” statements, as above. But watch out for sneaky “you” messages masquerading as “I” statements, like: “I feel upset when YOU do that.” By sharing your feelings and being vulnerable, you open a space for the other person to do the same.
- If the conflict is between you and one other person, sort out any differences behind closed doors. Find a private place to discuss things. The entire office does not need to take sides, and you certainly don’t need to add any grist to the company rumor mill.
If you have a team in conflict and it’s getting in the way of getting the job done, the BRODY training program "Move from Conflict to Collaboration" might be the perfect solution. Contact us for more details today!