Conflict Resolution:
Six Secrets to Successfully Conquer Conflicts

By Paul Davis

Do you ever hear these comments at the office?

  • “Hey!  Stop listening to my personal conversations!”

  • “Quit taking credit for my work!”

  • “That’s my parking space!”

  • “Why don’t you start doing your fair share of the work?”

These are just a few of the different types of employee interaction that can create conflict and cause tension in the workplace. Such tension and turmoil among employees, if not quickly dealt with, can rapidly spread throughout the ranks and distract many from work-related duties. Here are six secrets to successfully conquer conflicts:

1. Consider conflict an opportunity not a curse: Conflict is a character building and interpersonal communications improvement opportunity. We all have blind spots, preconceived ideas, personal peculiarities and tendencies that can make us hard to deal with at times. Being able to identify other character types and communication styles is beneficial for us, though it may not always be easy.

Learn to respond to conflict naturally and with openness. In so doing you will disarm the aggressor and show yourself to be a reasonable human being. To do otherwise will only further antagonize the angered party. As you listen, ask for more information as to the true source of the conflict. You will find that what seemed to be the initial problem was merely superficial. In such situations conflict becomes a learning experience for both of you.       

2. Respect and don’t reject people regardless of your disagreement: Separate the person from the behavior. Remember we all come from different backgrounds, upbringings and environments that have shaped and molded us. We are all continually changing and evolving. Give people room to grow as they come to a greater level of self-awareness. As you do and they discover how gracious you’ve been to them, they will become the most loyal employees or co-workers you will ever have. This is true empowerment.

3. Acknowledge and confess any contributory negligence: Conflict always begins within. We must judge ourselves first. We often judge ourselves by our intentions and others by their actions. This is to say we don’t typically use fair weights, standards and measures when we judge others.

If we were brutally honest with ourselves, we would find that in every conflict we have somehow contributed to it through what we have said or left unsaid. Neglecting to affirm your employees after work well done is as negligent behavior as them forgetting to get the work done. We all hunger for recognition and praise. Management must honor and recognize people for their performance. To avoid employee departures and high turnover, we must acknowledge their efforts.

Sometimes in the midst of all our efforts to be increasingly productive and profitable, we are not personable and can be offensive to one another. Recognize such times and apologize for being that way. By acknowledging and apologizing for wrong doing you are taking responsibility and encouraging everyone to be responsible. Suddenly people will begin to humble themselves and confess their own faults. When this happens employee morale and productivity will skyrocket.

4. Formulate what you want to say and how you will say it: Remember it is not only what you say, but how you say it. The manner and tone by which you express yourself will determine the level of receptiveness with which it is received. Receiving constructive criticism is never easy, but it can be bearable if the person giving it is kind, affirming and sincere. Start soft by affirming the person’s good qualities and your working relationship before proceeding to find fault and correct. Build on strengths and proceed from a place of agreement. Compliment and praise before providing constructive criticism.

5. Avoid premature assumptions: Premature and erroneous assumptions hinder management and employee morale and diminish the company. Don’t take for truth what others say. Instead go to the source and have an open conversation. Get things out in the open and speak face to face respectfully.

6. Speak with positive expectation believing the best: Stating your feelings with positive expectation pulls people to the level of performance you desire. For example, “William, you’ve always done a great job of giving your all in every account. As of late however you seem to not quite be yourself. Is there anything I can do to help? I want to see you succeed and be your personal best. Know I am fully committed to you as you are to this company.”  Affirming a person and your expectations of their success will endear a person to you and cause them to want to live up to your wishes. Remember, in conflict you can win a battle and lose the war.

Maintain a sense of humor and unconditional acceptance. You don’t have to always resolve your disagreements and conflicts to thrive. Sometimes you have to accept people as they are, realizing they may never change.  

Matters of personal preference do not need to take preeminence in your working relationship. Keep things in their proper place and don’t unnecessarily take offense at another’s approach, manner of reasoning or way of logically (or illogically) processing a situation. Employ your sense of humor and unconditional acceptance of others and you will get far greater results and work productivity at the end of the day.

Read other articles and learn more about Paul Davis.

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