4 ways to handle conflict in workplace
A certain amount of conflict is healthy and normal within a variety of relationships. Many things cause conflict, including differing values, ideas, perceptions, desires and experiences. Responses to conflict determine whether the disagreement leads to growth and development or causes pain and setbacks. Often, we feel that we have no choices in conflict. Like nations, if we are attacked we feel we only have the choice of attacking back or taking things lying down. But we do have choices. And those choices enable us to make the best decisions about how to respond. Here are the main choices in conflict.
View conflict as opportunity
Hidden within virtually every conflict is the potential for a tremendous teaching/learning opportunity. Where there is disagreement there is an inherent potential for growth and development. If you’re a CEO who doesn’t leverage conflict for team building and leadership development purposes you’re missing a great opportunity. Divergent positions addressed properly can stimulate innovation and learning in ways like minds can’t even imagine. Smart leaders look for the upside in all differing opinions.
If you use aggression, intimidation and confrontation to win an argument or gain the upper hand during a disagreement, you respond competitively to conflict. Rather than focusing on understanding the other person’s points, thoughts and concerns, you focus on winning the conflict without compromising your position. This response to conflict does not address the substance of the disagreement; it emphasizes the outcome.
Understanding the wiifm factor
Understanding the other professionals wiifm (what’s in it for me) position is critical. It is absolutely essential to understand other’s motivations prior to weighing in. The way to avoid conflict is to help those around you achieve their objectives. If you approach conflict from the perspective of taking the action that will help others best achieve their goals you will find few obstacles will stand in your way with regard to resolving conflict.
Responding to conflict in a collaborative manner means you focus on understanding the root of the problem, the feelings and reasons behind the conflict, and your own views as well as the other person’s reasons. Creativity and problem solving are two key elements in this approach to conflict. A collaborative response focuses not on winning, but rather on mutual respect and working together to overcome conflict.
Resolution can normally be found with conflicts where there is a sincere desire to do so. Turning the other cheek, compromise, forgiveness, compassion, empathy, finding common ground, being an active listener, service above self, and numerous other approaches will always allow one to be successful in building rapport if the underlying desire is strong enough. However, when all else fails and positional gaps cannot be closed, resolve the issue not by playing favorites, but by doing the right thing.