Whether you are a senior manager or an HR team leader, there is one thing we can all agree on. Conflict in the workplace is real, frequent and can damage a harmonious environment. If you have ever had to be careful not to put Steve on the same project as Kathy because their opinions have conflicted in the past, you know how important it is to resolve conflicts before they get a foothold on productivity.
Conflict resolution is a way of finding a solution everyone can agree on, without resorting to aggression or causing bad feelings. Conflicts are best resolved without an arbitrator or mediator, but your involvement may be necessary.
Start by getting the people in conflict to sit down and hash things out. We suggest you share the points below with your conflicted staff members before they seek solutions.
• Focused Communication: The first step in resolving conflict is to communicate openly and honestly with the other person or people involved. This means listening and understanding their point of view and sharing your own. It is important to be respectful and avoid the blame game. Monitor your tone. A raised voice or aggressive language or even aggressive body language can escalate a conflict.
• Compromise: This means finding a solution that is acceptable to both parties, even if it is not exactly what either of them wanted. Compromise is often the best way to resolve conflict.
• Mediation: This is where the manager comes in. If people are unable to resolve the conflict on their own, you may want to mediate. Mediation is a process where you help those in conflict come to a resolution by diffusing anger, listening to both sides, understanding both sides, finding common ground, and proposing solutions.
• Arbitration: Arbitration is similar to mediation, but here you have the power to make a decision that is binding for both parties. However, making the final decision comes with risk. It requires being 100% neutral and carefully weighing both sides and making sure those in conflict know your decision is designed to help and not favor one side.
Here are some additional tips for conflict resolution:
• Stay calm and be mindful of how you sound. If there is a mismatch between tone and words, modify your tone to get back on track. It can be difficult to stay calm when you are in a conflict. If you get angry, you are more likely to say or do something you will regret later.
• It is important to listen to the other person’s point of view, even if you don’t agree with it. Let people feel understood. Help them clarify and try to see things from their perspective before you make your case.
• Be respectful: Even if you disagree with the other person, it is important to show respect. Avoid hostile remarks, improper language or making threats. One of the keys to conflict resolution is to be thoughtful and kind.