Disagreements happen between people all the time in everyday life but recently we have noticed an upturn in the amount of businesses that are dealing with workplace conflicts between employees and having to hone their conflict resolution skills.
It’s understandable given the circumstances we are living through, with uncertainty and worry about what is happening and what the future holds sometimes even the smallest things can become full blown issues that need to be dealt with promptly and in a well-handled manner.
No one really enjoys facing conflict but in many cases disputes and conflict can be resolved peacefully and calmly if you apply the right skills when managing them.Active listening is truly focusing on what is being said. Repeating phrases used by the people involved when replying to them shows that you were listening and can help clarify any queries about the situation.
Emotional intelligence is the ability to read and understand emotions. It can help you stop the problem escalating whilst diluting the anger and frustration of those involved in the conflict giving you a better chance of them focusing on the resolution.
Patience may be a virtue and will definitely be needed while you listen to all sides of the argument. Take your time to absorb everything that the conflict involves and give yourself time to come to a solution.
Your ability to remain impartial is essential, a lot of the time the reason for the conflict is only part of the problem, there may be previous incidents that have caused tension. Separate the people from the problem and focus on that.
So now you have the skills to manage conflict resolution how can you put them into practice?
Don’t be defensive, you may or may not agree with a point of view but it’s up to you to see the argument from both sides and see where each individual’s opinion is coming from.
Don’t lay the blame on anyone, it won’t help reach a resolution if one party feels they cannot be open. Instead actively listen and give everyone the chance to express themselves.
Be calm, when tempers start to rise it’s your job to cool them down, emotions will run high, but the conversations should be meaningful and not descend into a shouting match.
Encourage compromise, ask the people who the conflict involves what they think the resolution should be, they’ll be more likely to work to it if they have had an input into it.
Take notice of what’s not being said, body language speaks loudly and if one of the individuals in the conflict is less confident they may not feel able to say what they really want to, look out for signs such as rapid blinking, chewing lips or clenched fists which can show fear and anger.
Encourage openness in discussions, crossed arms show someone is being defensive or protecting themselves.There is no one size fits all in the cases of workplace conflicts, the best resolution would be for the instance to be resolved informally and for everyone involved to move past it and get on with working together but it isn’t always that easy.
There may be a need take a more formal route if it isn’t possible to resolve the conflict. That doesn’t mean it’s an impossible task, it just might take a bit longer.