5 Pointers for Effective Conflict Resolution in the World of Work

Disagreements and conflict are only a very natural part of your work space. What makes a difference is, how you deal with them. Conflict resolution is a way for two or more parties to find a peaceful solution to a disagreement among them. How you manage conflict therefore, signifies a great deal about your ethics and the values you hold regarding professionalism. If your natural instinct is to avoid conflict at all costs, then know that you are not alone. Most people walk away, get upset or deeply stressed.  And that’s not good, it just prolongs the issue. Conflict comes into play when one person has a need from another person and that need is not being met. So, to be really effective at work, we must know how to manage conflict successfully when it comes up.  Here are 5 key ways for conflict resolution that will help you prevent the conflict from escalating.

1. Conflict Resolution: Respond, don’t Ignore

The worst way of dealing with conflict is by pretending it does not exist. This method seldom works, and you find yourself in greater trouble than you would, had you dealt with it head on. You need to acknowledge your involvement in the said conflict. Acknowledgement does not mean you are guilty of anything. It simply means that you realize there has been a problem and are willing to offer/ negotiate a solution. Note that we said “respond”, and not “react”.

2. Conflict Resolution: Don’t Play the Blame Game

As a common method for dealing with conflicts in even our personal lives, our first approach is to try to shrug off responsibility of the blame (consciously or subconsciously). Needless to say, this may come across as immature, especially at your work place. At times, we may do so rightly, because of our genuine lack of involvement in the reason for conflict.  Instead of passing the buck, say that you are aware of the problem and will do your bit to resolve the conflict.

3. Conflict Resolution: Use “Giraffe Language”

Giraffe language (or the language of nonviolent communication) is like Morse code for the world of work. It helps you deal with conflict constructively, while enabling you to express any concerns or criticism you may have in a pleasant or diplomatic manner. The first step to it, is inviting the person involved to proactively figure out a solution, followed by six sub methods – Observation (identify the problem in subjective terms), Apologize (for your part in the conflict), Appreciate (the other person’s willingness to proactively seek a solution), Consequences (understand the consequences of the conflict and its repercussions for yourself as well as the organization), Objective (discuss what could be a favorable outcome regarding the dialogue) and Request (set ground rules and request the other person to follow them, to avoid any such conflict in the future). To understand all these steps better, have a look at this superb blog post – here.

4. Conflict Resolution: Don’t Blow it Out of Proportion 

By doing so you actively escalate the conflict and thwart chances of a peaceful, proactive resolution. There are mainly to things you must avoid doing at all costs once you have acknowledged the conflict –

  • Do not overreact. Remember that you have to respond but not react. If you feel like it came your way suddenly, politely refuse to deal with it at that point of time. A nice way to say so would be simply saying, “Hi Annie, I am sorry that this has caused you inconvenience. I had no idea about the same. Can we please talk about it at a more convenient time?” Breathe, think and then respond.
  • Do not involve people who don’t need to be involved in it. This means respect the fact that the conflict is between you and another person, or a group of persons, and not anyone else. By unnecessarily involving people who are not relevant to the issue, you play a very active role in escalating the conflict.

5. Conflict Resolution: Don’t Hesitate to Seek Help

When we said do not involve people who don’t matter, we did not mean don’t involve people who do matter. When you realize you have done your best in trying to handle the conflict but are getting nowhere, approach the HR. Be objective and careful about this, and understand that there are certain things that need to be brought to the notice of the management. This would benefit both you and the other party, as well as the organization.

Being involved in a conflict or a confrontation obviously does not feel very pleasant. However, once you have dealt with it the best you could have, stop over thinking about it. Understand that it could and does happen to everybody in the world of work. What are some of the best ways you’ve dealt with conflict at your work place? We would love to hear!

And here is a video (from http://www.resolutionofconflict.com.au/) on conflict resolution for you – we know you will find it as useful, informative and fun, as we did :

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