How To Effectively Manage Conflict At Work

Handle conflict sooner rather than later This is the single most important tip to successfully resolve conflicts: Do it now! It’s very tempting to wait for a conflict to blow over by itself, but it rarely does – in most cases it only gets worse with time. I refer you to this delightful cartoon by Claire Bretecher for an example.
1: Realize that conflicts are inevitable at work
Show me a workplace without conflict and I’ll show you a workplace where no one gives a damn. Whenever people are engaged, committed and fired up, conflict and disagreement is bound to happen.


This doesn’t mean you have to revel in conflict or create trouble just for the hell of it, but it does mean that when conflict happens it’s not the end of the world. Quite the contrary, it can even be the beginning of an interesting learning process. The very best and most efficient workplaces are not the ones without conflicts but those who handle conflicts constructively.

Particularly when a workplace is changing and new ideas are being dreamt up and implemented, conflict is inevitable. There can be no business change without conflict. The trick is to make sure that you also have no conflict without change, because that is the truly dangerous thing: Conflicts that go on for years with all parties refusing to budge.

The fact that you have a conflict at work does not reflect badly on you – it mostly means that you care enough to disagree strongly. That’s a good thing provided that you do something about the conflict instead of just letting it go on forever.

2: Handle conflict sooner rather than later
This is the single most important tip to successfully resolve conflicts: Do it now! It’s very tempting to wait for a conflict to blow over by itself, but it rarely does – in most cases it only gets worse with time. I refer you to this delightful cartoon by Claire Bretecher for an example.

90% of conflicts at work do not come from something that was said, but from something that wasn’t said! It’s tempting to try and smooth things over and pretend everything is normal. Don’t. That’s the most common reason why conflicts at work escalate: Nobody does anything. Everyone’s waiting for the other guy to pull himself together and “just admit he’s wrong, dammit”. It may be unpleasant to tackle the issue here and now but believe me, it gets even more unpleasant after the conflict has stewed for a good long while.

3: Ask!
In the early stages of a conflict the most powerful tool to resolve it is simple: Ask! If somebody has done something that made you angry, if you don’t understand somebody’s viewpoint, if you don’t understand their actions – ask!

Do it nicely. “Say, I was wondering why you did ‘X’ yesterday” or “I’ve noticed that you often do ‘Y’. Why is that?” are good examples. “Why the hell do you always have to ‘Z’!” is less constructive :o)
Sometimes there’s a perfectly good reason why that person does what he does, and a potential conflict evaporates right there. Also: Never assume that people do what they do to annoy you or spite you. People typically have a good reason to do the things they do, even the things that really get on your nerves. Never assume bad faith on anyone else’s part. Instead: Ask!

4: Giraffe language
For more entrenched conflicts that have been going on for a while, use giraffe language . It’s the best tool around for constructively conveying criticism and solving conflict.

An example: You and a co-worker often clash at meetings. It’s gotten to the point where each of you are just itching to pounce on the slightest mistake the other person makes. You can barely stand the sight of each other and have begun to avoid each other as much as you can. This has been going on for a while now.

Here’s how you can use giraffe language to adress the conflict. There’s an invitation and six steps to it:

Invitation
 
Invite the other person to talk about the situation. An example:

“Say John, I’d really like to talk to you. Do you have half an hour some time today? We could meet in meeting room B”.

A hurried conversation at your desk between emails and phone calls won’t solve anything. You need an undisturbed location and time to adress the issue. And make no mistake: Giving this invitation may be the hardest part of the whole process. It can be remarkably hard to take that first step. Do it anyway!

At the meeting itself, you need a way to structure the conversation constructively. Otherwise it could easily go like this:

The good thing about giraffe language is that the conversation doesn’t degenerate into mutual accusations. Without a proper structure the meeting could also go like this:

“John, why are you always attacking me at meetings?”

“What are you talking about – I don’t do that!”

“You do. Yesterday you jumped on me for suggesting that we add en extra programmer to the team.”

“We’ve talked about that a thousand times, we don’t have the budget for more people.”

“That was no reason to stomp me and the idea at the meeting.”

“Well that’s what you did to me when I suggested that we review the project model.”
Etc. etc. etc.
 
Ever had one of those discussions at work? Not much fun and not very productive either! Giraffe language keeps accusations, assumptions and mutual attacks out of the conversation and makes it much more likely to reach a solution.

Here’s how it goes. It’s important that you prepare the meeting thoroughly and write down notes to each step so you know what you’re going to say. After each of the steps (except ii and iii) ask the other person if he agrees with your thinking and if he’d like to add anything.


Source: Positivesharing.com
Share on Google Plus

About Naijadopest

    Blogger Comment
    Facebook Comment

0 comments:

Post a Comment

Disclaimer: Do not use this forum as a channel to promote hatred, tribalism or any other kind of personal grievances. The administration can delete or edit a post that violates these guidelines. Keep the posts relevant to the topic in an attempt to keep the forum organised and maintain the focus on each topic. Thank you for your understanding.