Conflict Resolution In The Workplace

Conflict resolution in the workplace. Avoid needless office conflict by using these tips help you resolve conflicts quickly.

Office conflict, office politics, office negotiating"¦ we've all been through it and not always successfully.

I've heard many versions of "conflict resolution" workshops. However, in my experience only of some of it works.

To be honest, I'm kind of a sour, bad humored person in most situations. Yet invariably in many different environments I was chose by my peers to be the "conflict resolver". Why? Over time I figured out my own way of dealing with office conflicts that seems to work.

I can't say that every conflict resolution course is wrong, but in my experience, this is what works best:

Be yourself. If you've worked on learning conflict resolution, you've heard the advice to elicit a response by saying things like "tell me how that makes you feel" or "I hear what you're saying". In my opinion, that's terrible advice. Anybody's BS meter will go off the chart when they here that type of phase. They'll immediately think, "oh boy, here comes some of his dime store psychology". The idea is solid - figure out what the person is feeling, figure out what their issues are, demonstrate concern about what they want, and keep them talking. However you HAVE to use your own words and your own style. Nothing shuts down a person like the perception that you're either phony or trying to "workshop" them. It IS critical to elicit responses and give the person a forum to speak their mind - but learn to do it by being yourself.

Figure out the real problem. Why do people get into fierce battles over the dumbest things? I've seen people yell and scream and come to tears battling over desk positioning. If you're wise, you'll figure out what the real problem is. Sure, sometimes people have little things that they really care about. But nine times out of ten the real problem is deeper. What it often comes down to is, "why does HE get his way all the time?". Or "why do I always have to sacrifice when no when else does?". You might be surprised to find that when push comes to shove the reason someone won't move their desk is a deep feeling that person A ALWAYS gets the breaks, and person B is simply putting their foot down. A conflict often means somebody thinks they are getting taken advantage of. Just like a two kids who argue endlessly over who's piece of pie is bigger the bottom line is often really how bit the pie is, but who's getting an unfair advantage and who's getting the short end of the stick.



Get people talking. How do you figure out the real problems? Talk to people. I suggest NOT doing it in a group. Go one on one. In a group people tend to modulate their feelings or get defensive. One on one you can talk to a person and see what's really getting at them. Groups also tend to cause trouble when people really let it rip and end up causing more hurt than existed in the first place. Once you've talked to people one on one and really felt them out, then you might want to bring them together and come to a common conclusion - work on modulating conflict and not dredging dirt.

If you're management, do it yourself. Nothing is easier than delegating inter-worker conflicts off to one of the workers. Bad move. If they are bad at it, the problem will stay or get worse. If they are good at it, you've undermined your own credibility. Face the issue and deal with it.

Getting peoples feelings out means nothing without follow through. The whole process is meaningless if you're not committed to trying to come to solid conclusions. Don't treat conflict resolution like something to get past for one moment in time. A conflict generally represents something that's been festering a while. Get it out, deal with it, and come to solid conclusion everyone can live with over the long term. Otherwise you'll be right back where you started. And in fact, nothing can ferment future problems like having everyone speak their mind without reaching any conclusions.

If you're a manager, carefully think through the legitimacy of what you're enforcing. Conflict arises when a person doesn't want to accept what is going on around them. Often that is the result of a coworker, but it is also often the result of management rules. Make sure your rules aren't arbitrary. If a worker(s) has a serious and long standing complaint about an issue, tell them you'll think it over. And then do so. Ask why they think the policy is unfair and then consider alternatives. Ask them in good faith to come up with viable alternatives, making sure, however, that they understand that your consideration doesn't mean you'll necessarily change the policy.

Don't compromise the principles of your organization. It makes a lot of sense to compromise and to seek the middle ground. However, you need to make it clear that some things are non-negotiable. Don't compromise the long-term health of your organization. If you've considered everything and believe that some things must stay the way they are, explain your reasons and then stick with it. This applies both to a situation between management and workers and between workers themselves. Not every rule or every situation will be loved by all. Trying to please everyone is both impossible and unhealthy.

Don't play favorites. Of course you have favorites. But don't let that change how you deal with people in these situations As a professor, I had students I liked more than others. Period. But I tried never to treat them differently from the others and when it came time to grade them, I made it clear to everyone that love you or hate you, you'll be graded on the basis of your results. Don't let personal favoritism color your impartiality. It's not wrong to like some people more. It's wrong to act on that in an unfair way.

Trending Now

© High Speed Ventures 2011