I have a great guest post to share with you all today. All about Conflict Resolution.
Trishna Patnaik has a BSc (in Life Sciences) and MBA (in Marketing) by qualification but is an artist by choice. A self-taught artist based in Mumbai, Trishna has been practising art for over 14 years. After she had a professional stint in various reputed corporates, she realised that she wanted to do something more meaningful. She found her true calling in her passion which is painting. Trishna is now a full-time professional painter pursuing her passion to create and explore to the fullest. She says, “It’s a road less travelled but a journey that I look forward to every day.” Trishna also conducts painting workshops across Mumbai and other metropolitan cities in India.
Trishna is an art therapist and healer. She works with clients on a one-on-one basis in Mumbai.
Trishna fancies the art of creative writing and is dappling her hands in that too, to soak in the experience and an engagement with readers, wanderers and thinkers.
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You may prefer one of the conflict resolution strategies discussed over the others, all of these strategies can be used effectively in certain situations. For example, if the issue is minor and won’t have lasting consequences, it may be in your best interest to accommodate the other party rather than try to serve your own needs. However, if the issue is severe and will impact multiple people, it may make sense to choose a strategy with more assertiveness.
To choose the best conflict resolution method in any given situation, you need to first consider several factors, such as:
- How important your desires are.
- The impact on you or others if your desires are not served.
- The consequences of choosing to be more assertive.
- Whether a collaborative or cooperative solution exists.
Improving Your Ability to Resolve Conflict
Being able to choose and apply the best conflict resolution strategy effectively is made possible by developing better conflict resolution skills.
Examples of conflict resolution skills that can help you include the ability to:
- Listen effectively.
- Identify specific points of disagreement.
- Express your own needs clearly.
- Conflict Management Skills
Conflict management can be approached using a variety of different styles. While these styles may differ, every method utilizes the same management skills! To successfully manage conflict, you’ll need to hound each of these skills and learn the right time to exercise each one of them.
Below are some of the core skills and characteristics that you’ll need to adopt if you want to effectively manage conflicts:
Active Listening is a skill when trying to manage and resolve conflicts.
Active listening begins with intently focusing on what is said. Make note of their phrasing then respond using the same wording. This not only demonstrates that you were listening, but it will also help clear up any confusion about your argument. Additionally, be sure to ask questions when confused about a point and focus on identifying the other person’s goals.
Emotional intelligence describes the ability to read and understand your emotions, as well as the emotions of others. This is incredibly important for conflict management because it prevents escalation. If you can effectively interpret your opposition’s emotions, it’s easier to communicate with them without provoking them. If you can eliminate frustration and anger from the conflict, people will be more likely to focus on compromising because they aren’t distracted by their emotions.
Conflicts are rarely simple or easy to overcome. People don’t like to be wrong and will often hold their stance on an issue until they’re correct or proven wrong. If you’re looking to resolve a conflict, it’s important to keep in mind that the problem may not be solved right away, even if the solution is obvious.
No matter what the conflict is, you still need to take the time to listen to every participant and value each argument evenly. Even if there’s a clear answer, rushing to a resolution can make people feel like they’re left out in the decision-making process. Taking the time to equally consider all options now can help create a long-term solution that will save you a headache later.
Conflicts can be difficult to resolve because they often never stay focused solely on the competition itself. The competition usually acts as an initial spark that ignites previous tension that has built up between the two parties over time. Now the problem that started the conflict can’t be resolved because of the historical bias that exists between the participants.
In these cases, it’s important to separate the conflict from the people who are involved with it. Don’t focus on the people and their personal characteristics, instead, look at the problem itself and centre your energy on finding a middle ground. While you probably can’t solve your personal issues with the other person, you can definitely work on the tangible issues that impede you from meeting goals!
It’s hard to come to an agreement if no one is happy about it. Even if you do, a half-hearted compromise doesn’t motivate you to actually follow through on your promise either. In many cases, it can even provide a participant with an escape from having to continue to deal with the conflict altogether.
Being positive with your conflict management is a great way to keep progress moving forward. Conflicts are full of roadblocks and you’ll need to be willing to overcome them if you want to come to a resolution. Having the right attitude towards facing the conflict can become a catalyst for other participants who may be weary of the interaction.
Conflicts create a relationship between the participants that don’t end with the resolution of the problem. This relationship lasts forever and needs to be nurtured for the conflict to remain solved.
Creating an open line of communication between the two parties is the best approach for fostering a healthy, long-term relationship. Both parties can check in on one another and make sure that both ends of the agreement are being upheld.
If new challenges arise, this communication channel makes it easier for participants to address the roadblock without risking any progress they’ve previously made.
While these skills can help you manage conflicts and prevent them from escalating, it’s important to understand how you can use them in action to work towards resolutions.
The Relative Nature of Conflict and Its Resolution
Personality and upbringing influence the way we handle conflict. Think about it this way. In some households, it’s completely normal to walk away from conflict and never bring it up again. In other families, problems are discussed rationally until a compromise is reached, while some families resolve their problems with a dramatic flair.
Imagine having three team members who were each raised in a different one of these environments. One is going to walk away, another is going to attempt to have a conversation and the third might raise her voice and become emotional. Each one thinks they’re handling conflict in a normal way and views the behaviour of the other two as odd.
Conflict management’s definition is an attempt to bring everyone on the same page with a process for addressing difficult scenarios. However, for these techniques to be successful, each person must be trained in the process to give everyone a common ground.
Conflict Resolution Skills and Techniques when Dealing with People
1. Define Acceptable Behaviour
Before there is any hint of a conflict, you can reduce or even eliminate potential problems by setting a standard of behaviour in the surrounding. If you give one room to define what is and is not appropriate, they will do so.
However, it’s your responsibility to set the very tone. You can do this by writing specific frameworks for how discussions are run, noting the hierarchy and who is responsible for what. The more you set the guidelines, the better you can follow them as a team.
2. Don’t Avoid Conflict
There are several ways you might respond to conflict. For one, you could ignore it, and let the participants work it out among themselves. This is not always the worst approach! Teams must know how to collaborate, and conflict resolution is one of the tools they’ll need to do that.
However, if you’re avoiding dealing with conflict because it makes you uneasy or because you don’t want to reprimand someone, then that’s a misstep. You have the authority and should act when it is called for. Not doing so only gives the conflict legs on which to carry itself to a confrontation that will have an even worse impact on the situation.
3. Choose a Neutral Location
One of the first steps to diffuse any conflict is to change the environment. People are heated and that anger is often tied to a place. It sounds odd, but just removing the people from the room they’re fighting in will help put the conflict in perspective.
Then, to resolve the conflict, you’ll want to bring the upset individuals to a neutral location. A neutral space will first bring things down to a level in which a constructive conversation can occur. Secondly, by suggesting a meeting in a coffee house, or anywhere outside the office where there isn’t intrinsically a power dynamic, you are more likely to create a comfortable atmosphere where you can productively deal with whatever caused the issue.
4. Start with a Compliment
After you’ve broken away from the place where the conflict arose, you can address the problem. But you don’t want to jump right into a conversation with an accusatory tone. Your job is to hear all sides and make an executive decision based on the facts and the needs of the work being done. Therefore, to get a person comfortable enough to talk start by complimenting them. You want to show that there is no bad guy or good guy here. You’re attacking the problem, not the person!
5. Don’t Jump to Conclusions
The reasons for any conflict are often more complex than they first appear. In order to be just in your treatment of all parties involved, it is advised not to conclude anything at the offset. Even if you think the conflict is obvious, give everyone an opportunity to share their perspective. Get a sense of the history involved. You don’t want to assume anything about anyone. Gather your facts like a quiet detective, and then weigh in with the wisdom of a judge.
6. Think Opportunistically, Not Punitively
While some conflicts are going to require consequences, most are just sparked by passionate people coming at a situation from different vantage points. The truth is that when conflicts arise, so does the opportunity to teach or learn. Being a manager is seeing these conflicts as a means to address what has previously hidden problems within the team dynamics.
7. Offer Guidance, Not Solutions
What that means is there could be an obvious reason for the conflict and a similarly clear way to get people back on the same page and working productively. You’re leading the group, not taking sides in their arguments. It’s best if you can get the team to work together to resolve the conflict. That means taking more time to guide them to the conclusion you see, but they’re too emotionally involved to notice.
8. Constructive Criticism
In any conflict, there are a multitude of approaches, some more critical than others. But sometimes things are plainly wrong, and criticism is the only valid way to deal with it. Be that as it may, the people you’re criticizing are the same people you’ll be working with tomorrow and next week and so forth. So, how do you criticize without embittering, is the key?
That’s where constructive criticism comes in. It’s an approach that allows you to address the issue and lay blame but also supports the good work that was done. You offer guidance so that the problem can be fixed. The team now has the tools to avoid repeating it, and no one is resentful.
9. Don’t Intimidate
Don’t abuse your position. It might seem like the simple fix to coerce the correct course, but that is not thinking in the long term. The team never learns anything from this but to fear you, which means they won’t confide in you when something starts going wrong, leaving you in the dark until the issue is possibly beyond repair. So, take the time to work through your conflict resolution in such a way that it doesn’t pop up again the next day.
10. Act Decisively
Remember, you want to put the time into conflict resolution to do it right. But once you have gone through that process, then it’s time to act, and you should do so decisively.
Don’t let the decision wait and leave the team lingering. It sets a bad precedent in terms of your leadership. You’re leaving a void at the top, which will get filled by ideas other than your own, and you may lose the authority you need to lead. So, when you come to a decision, act on it. Some might not like it, but they’ll at least know where you stand!