Conflict Management for Wimps

Life comes with it’s share of conflicts. They may occur between yourself and another person such as a colleague or a spouse, or you may be in a leadership position where you are responsible for managing other people’s conflicts.

Conflict management is not easy. It requires a firm yet fair approach, and it’s possible that certain parties may not be happy with the outcome. Conflict management can be especially difficult if you don’t have a naturally outspoken personality and are sensitive when it comes to the emotions of others.

But as a leader, you will have to deal with difficult matters efficiently so that everyone can move past them and learn to get along.

Here are a few helpful tips for efficient and effective conflict management:

Learn to Look Out for Conflicts

It’s important to keep your eyes open for potential conflicts so you can identify them before they get out of hand. For example, if you find two people in the workplace that don’t get along, do your best to keep them away from each other. If you see a change coming that may cause an employee to get upset, communicate with them before the change occurs to ensure they will be in a good mental position to deal with it.

Stay Calm and Rational

When a conflict arises, it is typical for people to become angry or anxious. This can cause things to escalate. As the conflict manager, you are counted on to be the voice of reason, so it’s important to remain calm and composed. Use a rational approach to determine the cause of the problem and to find the solution.

You want to be neither passive nor aggressive. Treat the parties with respect and listen to what they have to say. Avoid making thoughtless comments. Be neutral and focus on facts.

You must also be assertive in any decisions you make.

Look at the Underlying Cause

When listening to both sides of the story, your aim is to identify the underlying cause of the conflict. In some cases, the conflict may be caused by a larger issue that’s not being addressed. Finding that issue will help you come up with a solution that works well for both parties, and it may also reduce the likelihood of similar problems arising in the future.

Assess the Severity of the Matter

Before moving forward with a solution, it’s important to assess the severity of the matter. Here are some questions to ask yourself when determining its potential impact:

·         Is the matter serious or trivial? Could the matter become serious? Sometimes people become upset over things that are not that serious. They may be dealing with other problems that caused them to escalate this specific situation, or they may just be a sensitive type. If this is the case, they may just need time to cool down. However, if the person exhibits this type of behavior frequently, it may be the sign of a larger issue.

·         Should this be taken to a higher level? If the conflict is serious, you may need to take it to a higher level. For example, if employee rights are involved, you want to consult HR or a trade union representative. If the conflict became violent, you may want to talk to a higher authority or even law enforcement. If the matter goes beyond your wheelhouse, you could get in trouble if you come up with a solution that’s not appropriate.

Agree on a Process for Moving Forward

If you feel you are prepared to deal with the matter yourself, it’s important to come up with a solution that makes everyone happy. A meeting with the people involved may be in order and this is best scheduled for a time after the parties involved have had a chance to calm down.

During the meeting, you will need to explore the issue and why it happened. However, it’s up to you to keep things from escalating into another fight.

You will need to identify any misunderstandings or miscommunications that are getting in the way of moving forward. Bring up points of common interest and ask for the parties’ preferred solutions. Mutually agree on a way to move forward and ask for both parties’ agreement in holding up their end of the deal.

Implement the Solution

Once a solution is reached, it’s up to you to make sure the parties stick to their agreement. For example, if they were arguing over a particular client, the solution may have been for one worker to deal with the client exclusively while the other worker is assigned different client.

If the worker continues dealing with the client they were cut off from, you must intervene by reminding them that they are supposed to avoid communicating with that company or individual. If they continue to work with the client, you may have to take it to a higher level.

Evaluate How Things are Going

It is hopeful that the solution you came up with makes for a peaceful environment in the workplace. But if you see the same issues arising or if you see continued conflicts between the original parties involved, there may be a deeper problem that needs to be addressed.

Consider Ways to Reduce Future Conflicts in the Workplace

Conflict management isn’t fun for most people. Therefore, you will want to do what you can to avoid them. This can involve promoting an office culture based on open communication. Make employees feel like they are part of a team and working for a common goal, so they will be less likely to turn on each other.

Improve Your Conflict Management Skills

You can also improve your conflict management skills by taking professional development classes that focus on things like mediation and dispute resolution. Consider whether you should implement a workplace procedure for dispute resolution. This can make conflicts easier to deal with in the future.

Conflict management is difficult to master, but it’s an essential skill for people in leadership positions. If you find yourself having to deal with conflicts in the workplace, the tips in this article will help you find solutions that work for everyone involved. How do you overcome your inner wimp to take disputes head on?

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