Whether you own your own business or simply work in an environment with other people you will run into situations that require you to manage conflict. Conflicts can be interpersonal, profession, or simply strategic in any case having the ability to work through conflict is a vital skill. You may not realize how much conflicts play a role in your day to day life so follow along as we explore conflict management strategies used in the workplace.
“Why Won’t You Listen?”
Even if you are one of the parties in conflict take note that people need to be heard. In the amazing book How To Win Friends and Influence People Dale Carnegie discusses how people will not listen to you if you don’t first listen to them. After all, how in the world could you possibly offer a solution if you didn’t listen well enough to understand the problem in the first place?. This is huge. Listening to a frustrated employee or someone advocating for something other than what you want will open the door for reciprocal communication. Cut them off mid-sentence and you may as well slam a door in their face.
“I Have My Reasons!”
If you don’t agree with someone’s stance step back and see if you can at least appreciate why they have the stance they have. No mature adult wants to disagree for the sake of disagreeing, there is a reason someone may not agree with you. This technique can be executed with the help of a conflict cloud if it isn’t initially obvious where someone is coming from. If you are working to mitigate two conflicting party’s a solution may arise simply by having each person state why they have taken their stance. Often times the reasons exist for a common goal. Even if two people are working towards different ends they may back off once they realize the reason why an action was taken.
I can’t tell you how many times I have been able to untangle a conflict by simply walking through each position. Stepping through the conflict slowly to uncover the main point of contention and bring to light a possible solution.
“Why Don’t You Care?”
As a manager, owner, or fellow employee it is important to let your colleagues know that you care about them and their situation. If you don’t care you have no place “managing conflict”. If you do care make an effort to let the people involved know. People need the reassurance that you are on their side and empathize with the situation.
Assumptions are often the underlining cause of your conflict. These assumptions are usually not obvious. A Socratic approach to why the conflict exists may help uncover some of these assumptions but if the conflict is big enough and you want to put in some effort the Theory of Constraints Thinking process can help immensely. The Thinking Process uses conflict clouds but takes everything a step further by outlining the situation as it exists, how you want it to exist, and ultimately how to get there.
Complete books have been written on this method so it isn’t something you can do in 20 minutes. It is however an amazingly powerful tool that leaves me impressed every time I use is. The heart of it like I said earlier is to uncover assumptions so if this can be done without all the overhead of the Thinking Process I suggest going that route.
Conflict Management Strategies Work
Methods to manage conflict abound but the few mentioned above have proven very effective for me. Be careful not to make a mountain out of a mole hill. People often clash and conflict is not always a bad thing. In fact it can be quite constructive and necessary in some situations so long as one can communicate their position and listen to what others have to say. I hope this was helpful and by all means please let us know if there are specific issues you would like us to tough upon.