Many companies struggle with Conflict Management, considering conflict as “negative” or “bad”, and so they allow problems to remain unresolved. Without discussion and resolution, these problems get stacked over in the corner with the rest of the “parking lot” issues until they begin to rot and ferment.
By the time they become a crisis, they are truly difficult to resolve without tears. Avoid extremes. No artificial harmony and no personal attacks! Constructive conflict is best!
Here are 7 keys to managing conflict in the workplace in a positive manner:
- Maintain a calm, business-like demeanor. Don’t give in to anger or argue with anyone for any reason. Professionals listen.
- Realize that you have choices as to how you will respond to and attempt to resolve conflicts. Your choices will either enhance your reputation as a business professional or will limit your ability to influence others and to enable others to resolve conflict with successful outcomes. Choose wisely!
- Attempt to understand alternative viewpoints by granting respect. Build trust by remaining open. Nothing helps people to resolve conflict as much as listening with the intent to understand another point of view.
- Establish Conflict Management Norms. Identify behaviors that contribute to solving conflicts with professionalism. Identify behaviors that don’t contribute to solving conflict and tend to create tension and encourage the breakdown of trust. Publish and distribute these Conflict Norms to all members of your team. Print them on a postcard and post them in your meeting rooms at the door and any podium.
- Deal with facts and problems, not in personalities. Nothing can turn dialogue into a debate or a fistfight faster than a personal attack. Focus on the situation, not on the motivations of the person(s).
- Don’t waste any time assigning blame, it never accomplishes a thing. Instead, approach conflicts from a learning perspective. Tell the team, “We’re not going to waste time on blame, let’s just learn from our mistakes and adjust so this won’t happen again.” The team will follow your lead.
- Look forward, not backward. Focus on what we can learn from any situation to prepare ourselves to maximize positive outcomes. Focus on solutions and put your customer first, always!
How you think about conflict has a profound impact on the choices you select and the outcomes you affect. If you embrace conflict as a necessary and opportunity-filled part of life, you can view each conflict as an opportunity, not just as a problem.
With such a viewpoint, you can leverage this opportunity to embrace the conflict as a means of educating or developing leadership abilities for yourself or the members of your team. You can take the chance to make something positive spring from conflict and make the situation better!
Check out our next blog on conflict management later this week and remember…
‘Conflict is inevitable, but combat is optional!’ –Max Lucado