Conflict is a dreaded topic for most. Losing your cool in the heat of the moment can break down a relationship and destroy trust that took years to establish. Even if you apologize afterwards and that apology is accepted, the damage can never really be fully undone. What is the first thing that comes to mind when you think of the word conflict? The majority of people have an unpleasant incident associated with the word conflict and although conflict can indeed be a negative and damaging experience, in its simplest form it is merely a difference of opinion. The reality is that in the global economy of today, you are bound to somewhere somehow cross paths with someone who is different from you and not only does this make life interesting, but in business, cultivating the strength of our diversity is a key enabler of innovation and business sustainability. It is therefore critical for the businesses of the future to learn how to use conflict to their advantage and turn the heat into light.
Using Conflict to Your Advantage
Instead of dreading conflict situations and looking at it as a problem, see it as an opportunity to strengthen the team. Change your conflict strategy by keeping the following points in mind:
- Conflict is an opportunity, as it gives us a look beneath the surface of the team relationships. It gives us the opportunity to learn more about others and ourselves. We do not all have to be the same – it is okay to have different views.
- Respect the other person and be careful that pride does not become an obstacle in resolving issues. Practice apologizing and make finding the good in each other, a companywide habit.
- Identify the root cause and take care not to focus on the symptoms that present themselves more clearly. Sometimes we need to put what we are disagreeing about into perspective and consider whether it is really that important.
- Begin with the end in mind – the main goal is to achieve something better for both parties.
- Know when to quit. If both parties are not willing to work towards a constructive outcome, you may need to walk away.
- Conflicts are symptoms of underlying tension, so they are likely to resurface at some point. Capture the learning from the current conflict to handle future conflicts better.
Despite best intentions, experiencing conflict at some or other point in time is inevitable. Here are a few tips on how best to handle those tricky situations:
Conflict – Turning the Heat into Light
- Do not get emotional. If you feel that you are not able to remain calm, then get yourself out of the situation. This one can be tricky if the disagreement is with your senior, but very few people can deny your exit if it is that you urgently need to go to the restroom.
- Do not become defensive and do not start to attack the other person. Constructive discussions can and should only take place once both parties are calm. Focus on breathing slowly and deeply.
- If you are unable to resolve the conflict situation yourself, get assistance from a facilitator or if appropriate approach your manager or supervisor for help.
- Always focus on the end result you want and not on the source of the conflict.
- Be the lessor person. Maintaining your composure and avoiding being the aggressor will put you in a more favourable position.
- Clear the air as soon as possible after an incident of conflict. Pick the timing for this discussion carefully and focus on the behaviour that caused the conflict and not the person. Explain your view constructively and allow the other person the opportunity to express their views. Agree how you would like to deal with a similar situation in future.
Click the link below to view the complete A2C Newsflash Volume 2 Issue 34 – Tips for dealing with volatile work relationships