There are many reasons conflicts surface in the workplace.
Likewise, there are a variety of conflicts that can show up. Successfully navigating conflicts results in more trusting and honest relationships and improves collaboration and productivity. It also allows you to get to the core issue quicker and find a solution. Ultimately, it is in everyone‘s best interest to know and understand the best strategies to handle and resolve conflicts.
1) Determine if the problem is worth discussing
There are some issues that aren’t worth discussing. The emotional energy and professional time it would take to address and resolve it is disproportionate to its negative impact. Therefore, sometimes it makes more sense to walk away.
2) Use the right body language
According to experts, we only convey 7% of a message through words. We communicate the rest of the message through vocal elements (e.g. tone) and nonverbal cues (e.g. posture). The next time you’re working to resolve a conflict, consider what your body language might be saying.
3) Focus on the facts not personal opinions
It can be all too easy to let personal opinions, of a person or situation, affect you when dealing with conflict. The only way to deal with your bias is to focus on the issue by outlining facts and remaining objective.
4) Allow everyone to speak
The number one complaint in conflict resolution is that one side doesn’t feel heard. If you’ve already identified an issue and are working to solve the conflict, be sure to allow the other person to express their thoughts and feelings.
5) Be mindful of the language you use
Specific words and phrases can cause people to become defensive. For example, use the feel, felt, found method. Instead of starting sentences with ‘you’, say ‘I feel; I felt, I found,’ It won’t always solve the immediate issue. But it could encourage the other person to be more open in considering your point of view.
6) Approach the problem with empathy
Only focusing on how a problem negatively impacted you is the wrong way to approach conflict resolution. Consider why the other person is upset or disappointed. Remember, they are not out to make your life uncomfortable. Like you, they are trying to solve a problem.
7) Refocus the conversation on solutions
Sometimes people can become so blinded by the errors that led to the conflict, they lose focus on possible solutions. While it’s not ideal that someone missed a deadline or did not ask for a key piece of information, ultimately, these things can’t be changed. Therefore, there is no point in focusing on them. Instead, refocus the conversation on finding a solution.
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Dealing with “difficult people” in the workplace is unavoidable. However, it begins with recognising there are no difficult people – there are only “people”, and sometimes people exhibit difficult behaviours. While you cannot change other people, Dealing with Difficult Behaviour will empower you to deal with difficult behaviours by recognising and understanding the intents behind them and responding assertively