8 Strategies for Effective Conflict Management in the Workplace
“To handle yourself, use your head; to handle others, use your heart.” – Eleanor Roosevelt
Conflict is a natural part of interpersonal relations and arises out of basic human differences. If you find yourself in conflict, it is probably because someone is asking for a change. Conflict is ‘change in process.’ While you may be able to avoid conflict (i.e. change) for a time, you cannot escape it – whether at home or at work.
And if you can’t escape it, you need to embrace it as a part of your job. Embrace this: “there will be conflict… but I can handle it.”
It is my experience that certain personalities will avoid conflict at all costs, while others will see it as part of the process of solving issues. Regardless of your personality type, embracing conflict means recognizing it when it happens, seeking to understand it, and taking appropriate action in the situation.
Conflict typically comes at us from two main sources:
- Poor communication: lack of information, inaccurate information, lack of direction from leaders, etc.
- Letting emotions dictate decisions rather than good judgement or logic: ego/pride, jealousy, power struggles, bad hair days, competitive tension, resistance to change, etc.
When (and I say WHEN, not IF) conflict happens in the workplace, here are 8 tips that will help you deal with it.
8 Strategies for Effective Conflict Management
1. Deal with conflict head on. If you are proactive, you can often minimize negative effects.
2. Develop a written code of conduct, so people understand acceptable behavior in your workplace.
3. Get your team on-side to the benefits of conflict resolution. Adopt the mindset that conflict is an opportunity for growth, learning and innovation.
4. Ensure clear job descriptions so people know what is expected of them.
5. Seek first to understand the other person’s motives and interests before weighing in. If you know what their interests are, you will be in position to help solve the problem. Ask “how might we resolve this issue/problem?”
6. Take your time – pause and reflect before you respond.
7. Work to develop a mindset for collaboration and team building.
8. Ensure everyone’s voice and ideas are heard and respected. Especially when working with different generations in the workplace, ensure you have open communication despite title, position, or age.
Remember, avoiding conflict only serves to fuel the flames of the issues that are causing it. So before the heat gets turned up too far, consider how these 8 tips can help to reach an understanding and solve the problem at hand! You might be surprised: the outcome could be even better than the situation before the conflict started.
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