EP23 – Dealing with conflict
Conflicts are a normal part of everyday life, we have conflicts with friends, family members, work colleges and even random stranger. It can be the simplest of things that causes conflict such as mannerisms, interests, social opinions, and even eating habits. There are an unlimited number of traits a person can have which cause them to get on your nerves.
What separates some from others is the way in which such conflict is deal with. Some people tend to deal with issues almost immediately and can be quite confrontational, whereas others are more passive aggressive and will only deal with such issues when they become a bigger issue.
There are a number of causes of conflict in everyday life including, but not limited to:
- Different cultures and backgrounds
- Differing values, opinions and beliefs
- Lack of sensitivity to race, gender, age, class, education and ability
- Poor people skills, especially communication
- Volatile, fast-changing workplace
- Limits on resources, physical and psychological
Once conflict has arisen, or is about to arise there are various ways in which to deal and manage it so as not to allow it to escalate. According to the Thomas-Kilmann Conflict Instrument, there are five main key styles for managing conflict:
- Forcing — using your formal authority or power to satisfy your concerns without regard to the other party’s concerns
- Accommodating — allowing the other party to satisfy their concerns while neglecting your own
- Avoiding — not paying attention to the conflict and not taking any action to resolve it
- Compromising — attempting to resolve the conflict by identifying a solution that is partially satisfactory to both parties but completely satisfactory to neither
- Collaborating — co-operating with the other party to understand their concerns in an effort to find a mutually satisfying solution
For the most part collaboration (particularly in the working place) would represent the best way to deal with important issues, although forcing can sometimes be appropriate if time is an issue. For moderately important issues, compromising can lead to quick solutions but it doesn’t satisfy either side, nor does it foster innovation, so collaboration is probably better.
Accommodating is the best approach for unimportant issues as it leads to quick resolution without straining the relationship – as such this method would be more suited to family members and friends.
Although a tough topic and conversation to have its very important to remember that conflict does actually have a positive side: it can promote collaboration, improve performance, foster creativity and innovation and build deeper relationships.
Conflict in the workplace can destroy good teamwork. When you don’t manage it effectively, real and legitimate differences between people can quickly get out of control, which can result in an irretrievable breakdown in communication.
Use the Interest-Based Relational approach to resolve difficult conflict situations, by being courteous and non-confrontational, focusing on issues rather than individuals, and listening carefully to each person’s point of view.
You’ll find that when people listen and explore the facts, issues and possible solutions carefully, you can resolve conflict effectively.
Applying This To Your Own Life
Are you trying to resolve a conflict between your team members? Have you found it difficult to get everyone to agree? A Potential approach to tackle it could be to:
- Set up a meeting between the conflicting parties to discuss the issue.
- Let them know that you are there to work together to find a solution, and that they need to focus on the problem, not the person.
- Ask them to listen carefully to one another’s point of view, and to use active listening skills, so that everyone feels heard.
- Be clear about the facts and then work together to agree on a resolution.
- Get practice by focusing on a relatively mild conflict first, and then try it on a more significant one.
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