Conflict and disagreement are an inevitable part of working life, so do you have a plan on how to manage it?
It is possible to actually benefit from conflict, resolving it in an effective way whilst avoiding damage to relationships. This is a key interpersonal skill – at all levels. Move in the right direction by following three basic principles: respect, negotiate and compromise.
Respect yourself, and others
We talk a lot about how we all perceive the world in different ways, and this is what makes us unique. Be honest with yourself and take time to understand the events, behaviours, or topics of conversation that might ‘trigger’ anger or conflict in you. Recognising these triggers is the first step towards helping to control your emotions when these issues arise.
Resist the urge to dismiss opinions and thoughts. Ask people to explain more about their thinking, and if you disagree, suggest they explain what the advantages are. Understanding their motives makes it all the more easy to find a common viewpoint and resolution.
Preventing conflict from escalating can often be done by just acknowledging that there is a disagreement. Stating a simple fact out loud – “We obviously don’t agree on this” – makes everyone stop and think.
It’s important to know when to walk away from a dispute – particularly if you feel like you’re losing control of your emotions. Separating yourself from the conflict gives you time to clear your head, and some space in order to think of a constructive way to respond.
Negotiating to work through the conflict
Keep yourself calm by controlling your breathing. In times of anger or stress we often respond by breathing rapidly, which depletes our oxygen and raises our blood pressure, which in turn can cloud our judgement.
It can be difficult, but try to use the “shut up and listen” technique as you breathe slowly. Stay quiet and really aim to listen to what the other person is saying. This will mean you may be able to find something in the other person’s argument that you can actually agree with.
If you can – try to forget about the concept of winning, or losing. Working together to find a resolution means you stop trying to “defeat” the other person and are receptive to each other’s good ideas!
Compromise and move on
Remember, you can’t force others to agree with you. You must have an open mind, and (if necessary) be willing to admit that you are wrong. This helps to prevent any possibility of lingering hostility; and may mean that others will feel more comfortable admitting their own mistakes in future.
After having a disagreement with someone, it can be helpful to acknowledge that you’ve both been part the resolution to the conflict by thanking them for their willingness to reach a solution.
If appropriate, arrange a time to catch-up again in the future. Some time to reflect on the conflict and the resolution can be useful and meeting up again helps to preserve and develop the relationship. You don’t need to specifically talk about the conflict, but move on to learn more about each other to help you work together going forward.
Watch our two minute tips video for more support – it was inspired by and published around the time of the EU referendum…which was a time of some ‘interesting’ conflict!
At Right Trax Training, we specialise in developing your business through your key asset; your people. Find out more about our interpersonal skills workshops and get in touch to find out how we can help you and your people to effectively resolve conflict.