Six Tips on Dealing With Conflict at Work
by Adam Young
Every organization has a staff with a diverse set of personalities, backgrounds and experiences. Conflict is inevitable in organizational settings when people who are extremely different work together on a daily basis. Whether it is a clash of personalities, a misunderstanding, or disagreement in the work itself, there are constructive ways to approach these situations. Conflict is often seen as a negative occurrence, which is not necessarily true. It can be an opportunity to open the door for communication, to learn something new about another individual, or find a more effective way of working. Here are some tips that may help you in the next confrontation.
1. Do not use verbal aggression
If someone were to physically assault you, your first instinct is to defend yourself. It is no different when being verbally assaulted. If a co-worker accuses or blames you, you instinctively guard yourself from the attack. Retaliation or responding with a verbal attack is common. If you believe you are not at fault, be sure to communicate that without the use of personal attacks or defensiveness. This may be difficult in the moment, especially if you are being accused of something you know is not true, or if you are blatantly insulted. However you are more likely to get the point across if the other person does not feel threatened. Maintain your maturity and professionalism, no matter the outcome, instigation will not help the situation.
2. Be open
Misunderstandings are often the cause of these conflicts. If a message involves a line of communication involving many people, information can be lost, or messages can be misinterpreted. Be open to the fact that there may be something you do not know, or that the other person may have a point although you may be right. Be open to creating a discussion about fixing the problem, instead of pointing the finger. This is when conflict can be useful. By listening, understanding, and if possible, sympathizing with the other person, the argument can become a discussion. This is an opportunity to create a flow of new ideas, which can not only solve the problem at hand, but prevent future disagreements, and strengthen your work relationship.
3. Focus on the problem
It is very easy to point the finger or play the blame game when trouble arises. As easy as it is, it is not useful or productive. The main concern is to find a solution to the problem, not to determine who was wrong. If it pertains to the issue it hand, stating who did what may clarify the problem as a whole. If the problem is related to the work itself, keep the conversation focused on exactly what is wrong, and what can be done to fix it. If conversation leans towards accusations, lead it back to a safe space where both parties are focused on ideas. If the problem is regarding the work relationship, do not focus on the person’s faults. Talk about what can be done to effectively work together. If you must tell someone you think they are at fault, do not use insults, and explain how it is affecting the work.
4. Stay cool
In heated situations, we have a tendency to speak first and think after. This results in aggression which aggravate the conflict. Instead, pause before you speak, think about what the person has said to you, and respond appropriately. By giving yourself this time to think, you cool down, and you are less likely to speak with anger. A lot of the time, the other person wants to argue for the sake of arguing. When you stay calm, they will see their tactics are not useful, and will either give up or choose to talk as calmly as you are. You will also be able to come up with a more insightful reply that can lead the argument into a discussion.
5. Find a common ground
If people have a common ground, working together to reach it can be less troublesome. Determine what you really want, and try to determine what the other person is looking for. Use this information to align your desired outcome with theirs. It is easier to open up to someone and share your true thoughts and ideas, if you know that they want what you want.
6. Tell a supervisor
If all else fails, telling a manager or supervisor may be the best option. If this is the course you choose, be sure to explain how you tried to fix the problem before approaching them. They want to know you can work independently and at least made an effort. Be sure to show them how the resolution of this conflict will ultimately help them. They do not need to know who was at fault in the situation, but if the work is being affected, and you can prove this, they are going to step in and help change it. Explain the problem clearly, and the benefits for the manager or the company as a whole if the problem is worked out.
Most of the time, when conflict arises, there is no way to avoid it. The result is based on how we approach it. Once you accept that conflict is unavoidable, it no longer is a problem. Instead, it becomes chance to change an inefficiency or strengthen a relationship. By keeping communication open, being aware of the present situation, and not concentrating on winning, coming to a resolution that benefits both parties can be achieved.
About the Author: Adam Young is a human resources professional who provides communication coaching and consulting services to individuals and organizations to help them achieve success by improving their interpersonal skills, increasing their confidence in social situations, and becoming highly effective communicators. With his experience and education in training, recruiting, and communication, he has acquired a great understanding of social interaction, and uses this knowledge to help others build their skills. Visit his weblog at coachadamyoung.com.
Article Source: EzineArticles