Conflict and disagreements are an inevitable part of working life, yet many people try to avoid it and ignore it rather than face it head on. The truth is, by resolving conflict in an effective way, you can save and even improve relationships. The difficulty, however, is developing this key interpersonal skill to be able to handle such issues.
Take a step in the right direction by following three basic principles: respect, negotiate and compromise.
Respect yourself, and others
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 you to control your emotions when these issues arise.
Resist the urge to dismiss the opinions and thoughts of others. Ask people to explain more about their thinking, and if you disagree, suggest they explain what the advantages are. Understanding their motives makes it easier to find a common viewpoint and resolution.
It’s important to know when to walk away from a dispute. 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.
Stay quiet and really listen to what the other person is saying. This will mean that you may be able to find something in the other person’s argument that you can actually agree with. If so, tell them that you agree with them on a particular point, and show that you are trying to understand their point of view.
Hopefully, they may be more willing to listen to you in return. Think of the conflict in terms of the issue – not the person – and try to keep the focus on one issue at a time.
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
You can’t force others to agree with you. You must have an open mind and 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 of 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 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.
Right Trax Training works with managers and their teams to help them interact and communicate more effectively, giving people the skills and mindset they need to better deal with change and conflict. This helps people to understand themselves and adapt their approach to better connect with others, increasing team cohesion and performance.