5 Ways To Resolve Conflict In The Workplace And Still Maintain Strong Relationships
At one time or another, we have all experienced conflict in the workplace, and it can be uncomfortable when these clashes occur. While we may get angry or frustrated in the heat of the moment, there is usually a way to find a resolution to interpersonal difficulties and still maintain strong relationships. So, how do you effectively resolve workplace conflict?
1) Tackle Situations One-On-One
The first thing to do, when a conflict is brewing, is to go to the source of the issue. Often further resentments can arise through rumours or gossip. The best way to counter miscommunication is to tackle disagreements one-on-one. Find a quiet moment to talk things through and try to make sure this happens in private - you don't need an audience to heighten tensions. With clarification, you may find there's less to disagree about than you thought.
2) Don't Ignore It
Don't let frustrations fester. Conflict resolution won't happen by itself and if you don't address issues in a timely manner, they could escalate and create greater problems down the line that will be harder to resolve. Unresolved disagreements can also leave a bad atmosphere in the workplace that can make others feel uncomfortable and impact team cohesion, productivity, and ultimately organisational culture. You don't want minor misunderstandings to become major rifts, so make sure you tackle things as early as possible.
3) Go Into Conversations With The Right Mindset
When you start to talk through difficult topics try to keep an open mind. People may feel defensive at first, but it's vital to resist the urge to blame or demonise the other person. Consider how you need to think and act to get the results you want and how you can make the other person feel emotionally safe so that the conversation can be an honest and open one. Remember why you are having the conversation in the first place, listen to what the other person has to say and try to see the issue from their perspective too. With the right mindset, it's much easier to resolve issues, come to compromises and find agreement.
4) Address The Real Issue
Very often we don’t address the real root of the conflict, or we only scratch the surface. We need to take the time to understand what it is that’s really affecting us. Albert Einstein said, “If I were given one hour to save the planet, I would spend 59 minutes defining the problem and one minute resolving it.” An extreme statement, but nevertheless the right principle. Often, we aren’t sufficiently rigorous in defining the problems we’re attempting to solve, and therefore spend time and effort solving the wrong problem. Are you really upset about that comment they made in that meeting last week, or are you actually upset that this is the third time they’ve made a similar comment and their behaviour has seemingly become a bit of a pattern, or is it that by making these comments you feel disrespected and undermined? Understanding what the real issue is will allow you to find an effective resolution.
5) Talk About The AAAs
AAAs’ are your Agreed Actions and Accountabilities. Resolving workplace conflict fully means all parties must be aligned. Mutual understanding is agreed acknowledgement of the outcomes of your conversation. You need to discuss how each person will hold the other accountable for the agreements you’ve made and what actions you will take if one, or both of you, should fall short. That way you can safeguard relationships for the future.
How Organisational Culture Change Can Facilitate Better Conflict Resolution
Working through intra-team conflict can be difficult. These five tips provide useful guidelines, but you should also consider how you build a positive company culture that supports conflict resolution and can work to overcome interpersonal barriers that may be standing in the way of success.
At GRA, we can help with organisational culture change programmes. These are tailored to your company's needs to help encourage positive behaviour change and stronger workplace relationships. Please call 01962 779911 today to find out more.
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