No matter how amenable your workplace is, conflict is bound to arise from time-to-time. When strong minds and bold personalities are involved, it seems only natural that conflict would come up in situations where people feel passionate about what they do. Conflict doesn’t have to be a negative thing, but it can turn ugly very quickly if the situation isn’t handled correctly and proper techniques for conflict resolution aren’t utilized.
Good leaders know how to properly utilize conflict for growth. If you shy away from confrontation, you might actually be making things worse. Rather than resisting conflict, learn how to lean into it and approach confrontation with a positive attitude. You might be surprised at just how quickly you can transform conflict into effective communication with the proper approach.
If conflict resolution isn’t your strong suit, consider these six tips for managing conflict with poise.
- Take a Time Out
Thomas Jefferson said, “Nothing gives one so much advantage over another as to remain always cool and unruffled under all circumstances.” Though it might be your natural reaction to want to resolve things on the spot, sometimes taking a breather is the best thing you can do when managing a terse situation. There’s a time for resolving conflict and that time is most certainly not when tensions (and tempers) are running high. Call for a time out and let everyone cool off a bit. You’ll probably be surprised at just how quickly things get resolved when you remove fickle emotions from the equation.
- Focus on What Your Opponent is Saying Instead of Planning Your Rebuttal
Just because you’re in the middle of a conflict doesn’t mean that lines of communication should break down. The worst disservice you can do to your opponent (and to yourself) in a conflict is to stop listening. Rather than tuning out your opponent’s reasoning in order to plan your rebuttal, focus on what he or she has to say. Empathy goes a long way in conflict resolution and trying to understand your opponent’s point of view might give you valuable insight into how best to resolve the problem so both parties are happy.
- Avoid the Blame Game
Throwing around blame will only make conflict worse. No matter who did what, everyone involved bears responsibility in making sure the conflict is resolved maturely. Avoid placing blame and the conflict will get resolved that much more quickly.
- Remember that Leadership and Conflict Resolution Go Hand-in-Hand
Don’t fear conflict, embrace it. You might think avoiding conflict is the way to make your business run smoothly but great leaders know that you can’t escape conflict, so you might as well learn how best to manage and resolve it. Just as healthy fighting is crucial to a great romantic relationship, understanding how to manage conflict in the workplace instead of stifling it is key to fostering a healthy work environment for employees.
- Attack the Problem, Not the Person
When dealing with conflict, it’s essential to remember that you are frustrated at the issue at hand and not at the person involved. When venting your frustration, focus your irritation towards the problem, not the person.
- View Conflict as Opportunity
Conflict occurs because there is a flaw in the system or a breakdown in communication. Addressing the issues behind any given conflict is essential to ensuring that your business flows smoothly and everyone communicates effectively. Avoid conflict for the sake of conflict and choose your battles wisely. The conflicts that arise after that will facilitate positive professional growth.
Conflict is an unavoidable facet of problem solving. Learning to deal with conflicts in the workplace is essential for anyone looking to communicate effectively with coworkers and superiors. Utilize these tips and you might be surprised to find just how quickly conflicts are resolved when everyone involved keeps a cool head and works together to solve the problem.