How to manage conflict
Conflict is natural and unavoidable. It happens in almost any ongoing relationship, be it personal life or work. However, at work it is your job as a manager to make sure it doesn’t escalate to the stage where it disrupts the dynamics and harmony of the office.
With any conflict, it is important to understand that it is not just a problem, but also an opportunity. Conflict signifies the need for a dialogue and sometimes – change.
It is important to listen and keep an open mind. Ask questions, don’t judge and jump to conclusions.
- What was the cause of the conflict?
- Who is involved?
- What are you not pleased/agitated/angry with?
- How can we resolve it?
Use neutral language. First and foremost, this is a workplace, so you have to maintain professionalism and objectivity. Refrain from accusations, offensive language, and heightened tone of voice. Keep the situation under control.
Agree to disagree. Everyone has a unique point of view, especially during the conflict. Listen to all parties involved and don’t be afraid to make your opinion on the issue known. Some might not like it, but no one said it’s going to be a pleasant experience.
Move past it. People often focus on what was said and done in the past they don’t like, when it comes to conflicts. Acknowledge it and try to come up with the ways it is avoided in the future. It is important to learn off the experience, but dwelling on the past issues is not healthy for anyone.
Be specific. Conflict resolution requires you to be very specific when it comes to settling the dispute. Whose fault you think it was? What are the repercussions? What are the next steps? What should be done in the future to prevent it from happening again? Be very precise in what you say to avoid any further misunderstanding.
Maintain confidentiality. It goes without saying that confidentiality is essential when it comes to settling a dispute at work. Not only you want to protect the identity and dignity of everyone involved, you want to encourage your staff to approach you in the future with any issues or problems they are facing in the workplace.
It is important to understand that there is no organization that is conflict-free. With so many different personalities, cultures and backgrounds in the mix, it is inevitable that people will fight, argue and misunderstand each other. By developing your conflict-resolution skills you might not completely eradicate these issues, but most certainly make a difference by providing a much more peaceful and less stressful environment for everyone to work in.