5 Steps to Resolving Conflict at Work

5 Steps to Resolving Conflict at Work

The truth is that conflict and leadership are inextricably linked. Leadership is a full-contact sport, and you shouldn't be in a leadership position if you are unable or unwilling to deal with conflict in a constructive manner. I believe that subscribing to the ethos "Don't fear conflict; embrace it-it's your job" is the best way to sum up the concerns surrounding conflict resolution. Conflict cannot be avoided, yet trying to do so is a bad idea. The reality is that workplace disagreement is inevitable. Whether you look for it or not—a good idea; more on this later—it will still find you.

Being able to identify conflict, comprehend its nature, and be able to bring about a speedy and equitable resolution to conflict will serve you well as a leader; your inability to do so could very well mean your failure.

How many times have you seen intelligent professionals self-destruct over the years because they would not engage because they were afraid of conflict? It is not the best approach to problem solving to bury one's head in the sand and hope that conflict will go away. Conflict rarely resolves spontaneously; in fact, if it isn't handled appropriately and proactively, it usually worsens. What might have been a minor issue can frequently turn into a major issue if it is not dealt with right away.

One of my favorite instances of what I mentioned in the previous sentence is the ineffective leader who is unable to deal with subordinates who utilize emotional dishonesty as a weapon of mass destruction. Every workplace is rife with deceptive individuals who use confrontation to stir up emotion and hide their lack of substance. When questioned about misbehavior and/or poor performance, these drama queens and kings are ready to blame someone else. They are skilled at getting away with having little substance at all by using emotional outbursts that frequently involve crocodile tears, blame-shifting, tiny lies, half-truths, and other cliched tactics.

The only thing worse than what I've just said is ineffective leadership that fails to acknowledge the issue or takes no action. Real leaders don't take sides, get involved in squabbles, and they most definitely don't put up with deceptive, self-serving behavior.

Building a sustainable company model requires the development of skill sets in dispute resolution. Conflict that is left unresolved frequently leads to decreased productivity, the suppression of innovation, and the construction of barriers to cooperation and collaboration. High conflict resolution skills correlate with good staff retention, which is perhaps most crucial for leaders. Leaders who don't handle disagreements well will eventually see their top personnel go to a place where it's safer and healthier to work.

Conflict is a natural component of any social or organizational context, but how one chooses to handle it is the problem. Conflict that is hidden, avoided, or otherwise disregarded is likely to fester and lead to resentment, retreat, or factional infighting inside an organization.

The Causes of Workplace Conflicts:

What, therefore, causes conflict at work? opposing views; rivalry; power battles; ego; pride; envy; inconsistencies in performance; problems with compensation; a poor day for someone, etc. Contrary to what one might assume from the answer to the preceding query, which suggests that almost anything and everything might lead to conflict, the majority of disagreements are actually the result of either ineffective communication or a failure to exercise emotional restraint. Let's investigate these 2 primary sources of conflict:

1. Communication: If you think back on the confrontations you have had over the years, you'll quickly realize that many of them were the consequence of inadequate, incomplete, incomplete, or incorrect information. Let's imagine for a second that you were fortunate enough to get helpful information, but you weren't sure how to use it. That continues to be a communication issue, which might result in conflict. Information should be communicated in a manner that is clear, succinct, accurate, and timely to reduce the frequency and intensity of conflicts.

2. Emotions: Letting emotions influence decisions is another error that frequently occurs in office communications and results in conflict. I've seen smart businesspeople put their demand for emotional supremacy before accomplishing their goals (not that they always understood this at the time). Have you ever seen a staff member lose control in the heat of the moment and draw a terrible line in the sand? If so, you actually saw someone indulge their emotions rather than safeguard their future.

5 Steps to Dealing with Workplace Conflicts:

No matter how much we all wish it weren't true, gaps in thinking and philosophy will always exist since they are a result of human nature, the scourge of human existence. The question of how to handle conflict when it occurs then emerges. Conflict must be recognized and dealt with through efficient conflict resolution procedures in order for an organization to be healthy and work well. While having a structure for conflict resolution is crucial, the ability of all parties to grasp the advantages of conflict resolution and, probably more importantly, their desire to address the issue are ultimately necessary for effective use of conflict resolution processes. The following advice will assist in handling disagreements at work more skillfully:

1. Define Acceptable Behavior:
You are aware of the proverbial assumption that defining what constitutes appropriate behavior is a start in the right direction towards preventing conflict. 

By creating a framework for decision-making, using a public declaration of authority delegation, and encouraging moral business practices in collaboration, team building, leadership development, and talent management, conflicts can be avoided. 

A clear chain of command that facilitates effective communication and well-defined job descriptions that make it clear what is expected of each employee can also help to prevent conflicts. Make sure that it is abundantly clear in a direct way what will and won't be tolerated in the organization.

2. Address Conflict Directly: 
Even if you can't always avoid conflict, I've found that the secret to effective dispute resolution is to avoid it whenever you can. By actively looking for potential problem areas and engaging in a fair and assertive manner, you can certainly prevent some conflicts from ever arising. Dealing with a disagreement as soon as it occurs will usually assist in decreasing its impact. If you make the effort to identify and comprehend natural tensions, it will be simpler to avoid unnecessary confrontation.

3. Recognizing the WIIFM Factor 
The WIIFM (What's In It For Me) viewpoint of other experts must be understood. Understanding people's motivations is crucial before offering your opinion. The best way to avoid conflict is to assist those close to you in achieving their objectives. If you approach conflict from the perspective of doing what will best help the other person achieve their goals, very few obstacles will stand in your way of being able to resolve the issue.

4. The Importance Factor: 
Avoid becoming involved in disputes for their own sake and pick your battles intelligently. But if the issue is severe enough to cause a dispute, it must also be significant enough to warrant a solution. If the issue, event, or situation is critical enough and the stakes are high enough, people will take the required actions to promote dialogue and overcome ideological or positional divides.

5. See Opportunity in Conflict:
Every quarrel has the potential to present an amazing teaching/learning opportunity. There is an inherent possibility for growth and development where there is conflict. Organizational leaders that don't use conflict to build teamwork and develop their leadership skills are missing out on a great opportunity. Diverse viewpoints that are correctly handled can inspire innovation and learning in ways that our minds cannot even fathom. Leaders that are wise search for the positive in all opposing viewpoints.

The bottom line: 
Where there is a true desire to do so, I think problems can typically be resolved. If the underlying desire is strong enough, one can always be successful in developing rapport by turning the other cheek, compromising, forgiving, being compassionate, empathic, finding common ground, being an active listener, putting service before self, and many other strategies. However, if everything else fails and positional gaps cannot be filled, deal with the problem by acting morally rather than by favoritism.
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