Resolving Conflict in the Workplace Part II

In our last post, we discussed the importance of effectively resolving conflict in the workplace. The ability to resolve conflict will not only mitigate the existing issue but help lead to increased collaboration and even innovation.

While we cannot stop conflict from occurring altogether, we can improve our ability to deal with it properly. In successfully managing the conflict and disagreements that may arise between two people – whether ourselves and another person or two coworkers – we must recognize that we are in turn strengthening our own interpersonal and leadership skills. The next time you find yourself in a heated dispute, keep this in mind so that you can turn the argument into a positive outcome. These additional six steps are necessary for effective conflict resolution.

Step 7:  Think with logic, not emotions.

Address the problem at hand by thinking through the issue logically. As much as you may feel frustrated or even angered, it is important to keep these feelings under control. Focus on separating your emotions from your rationale as much as possible. Moreover, as you talk through the conflict with the other person, avoid the urge to criticize or pass judgment. Your goal is not to turn the argument into a personal one.

Step 8:  Tell the truth.

Be frank about your opinion and thoughts on how to resolve the conflict. You won’t get very far by avoiding the real issue at hand or being overly cautious of hurting the other person’s feelings. At the same time, don’t lie about any aspect of the situation. Be truthful about your side of the story, or you risk complicating the issue further.

Step 9:  Offer alternative options.

Have a few different options in mind for how to solve the problem. This shows that you are willing to negotiate. Always consider a solution that has value for both parties, and do not immediately dismiss the ideas provided by the other person. Be aware that you will need to compromise and accept that the solution may not accomplish every one of your goals.

Step 10:  Know how to listen.

Make sure you are listening to the other person’s perspective and ideas. Try to ask questions and repeat things back to them in order to clarify and show that you are focused on what they have to say. This will show that you are genuinely interested in arriving at a resolution that is mutually beneficial.

Step 11:  Conclude on a positive note.

Although a perfect solution is not always attainable, and you may not be happy with every part of your compromise, make an effort to end things positively. Accept that the conflict has been resolved, and agree on what actions should be taken next to make sure the conflict doesn’t persist. Both people should leave the situation feeling good. If not every part of the disagreement can be resolved, you must agree to disagree without further disputing.

Step 12:  Learn from the process.

Evaluate the process of resolving the conflict, and determine what you have learned. Were you not seeing the other person’s perspective? Have you been making some error that caused the dispute in the first place? You can use this situation as a form of leadership training. Determine what worked, didn’t work, and how you ultimately arrived at a solution so that you can replicate the process for conflict in the future.

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