When different personalities collaborate to work, conflicts are bound to happen. Not all conflict need resolution strategies because they are sometimes suitable for the workplace! That’s true. Conflicts promote conversations and push for the best results. But some issues are necessary to spot and resolve.
This article discusses various conflict resolution styles and strategies you must learn.
What Is Conflict Resolution?
Conflict resolution is an agreement between two or more people to agree on a solution (or agree to disagree) respectfully.
It is one of the most desired interpersonal skills, especially if you are in a leadership or managerial position. Conflict management is essential to prevent potential conflicts from turning into disputes.
With conflict resolution, you intend to:
- Find a solution that is mutually acceptable to all to a great extent.
- Resolve the tension quickly before it impacts the whole team or organization.
- Build a cordial relationship between those involved in the conflict.
To do so, you need to have the right skills and mindset. But even before that, most importantly, you need to decide if the conflict needs your intervention at all!
When Do You Need To Resolve A Conflict?
It is essential to identify if any intervention is needed between the involved people. For example, if team members disagree with one proposed solution because they have better ideas or sense any shortcomings, it is best to refrain from intervening. Why? Because it promotes a healthy discussion and is beneficial for the whole project.
But it would be best if you watch out for these signs before conflicts become toxic:
- There is anger or any discomfort in the environment that you can sense.
- Frequent disagreements between the same people over anything and everything.
- A high turnover rate.
- Healthy discussions turn into heated conversations intending to prove each other wrong only.
- Overall team productivity drops.
- Groups form within the team and are not cordial with other people.
- More absence from the office. Tension creates stress and forces people to take frequent offs.
The Five Conflict Management Styles
The most common theory we apply in resolving conflict is based on the Thomas-Kilmann conflict resolution model. It is based on different levels an individual wants to satisfy their interests (assertiveness) and others’ concerns (cooperation). This model defines five approaches: Avoiding, Accommodating, Compromising, Competing, and Collaborating.
This style focuses on not engaging in a conflict. Small, insignificant differences can be handled this way. For example, do not jump into any random heated conversation if it does not concern you.
It may be a good technique for short-term issues but will benefit little in long-running problems.
This style focuses on understanding others’ points of view and adjusting your opinion to accommodate some requests. For example, going with the majority in case of disagreements instead of arguments.
It involves agreeing to disagreeing approach.
This style aims to find a middle ground where both the conflicting parties forfeit some of their needs to agree. It is also called the “lose-lose strategy.” For example, deciding on a solution proposed by one party and working on it according to approaches set by the other party.
It is quite an effective technique for solving many style-based and different personality-based conflicts.
This is the best way to resolve most conflicts. It requires both assertiveness and cooperation from the involved conflicting parties. It is also called a “win-win strategy,” as it’s about finding the solution that makes everyone happy. For example, when merging two teams, you incorporate both teams’ best practices.
It is a great way to resolve long-term relationship-based conflicts.
This style means showing high assertiveness and no cooperation. There is a clear winner and a clear loser in this style. For example, when you don’t want to compromise on your work quality because of the short deadline as it affects your reputation.
This style is dominant where the issues are happening because of morals and ethics. It has an impact on relationships.
How To Choose The Right Conflict Management Method?
All these styles have their own pros and cons, and you should be bold in applying these techniques to resolve conflict in the workplace because they all can be effective in certain situations.
For example, if the issue is minor and the outcome is more important, accommodating the other party may be best rather than trying to serve your needs.
Here are some key factors to consider before choosing any method:
- Are you willing to a collaborative or cooperative solution? Or do you want to talk it out?
- What is the type of issue – is it serious, or can it be resolved with just two people talking directly?
- What could impact the team, work, and overall productivity if the involved parties do not reach any conclusion?
- The consequences of choosing to be more assertive.
With this in mind, here are ten workplace conflict resolution strategies to match your style.
Conflict Resolution Strategies To Apply In The Workplace
Whether you want to avoid a conflict or compromise and dissolve the issues, these strategies are necessary to conclude.
#1. Active Listening
Allow everyone to speak their mind. Gathering all the inputs and facts before making any decision is vital. Active listening also builds trust that their point will not go unheard! For example: A co-worker expresses frustration about a task that they were assigned. You listen to their concerns and ask clarifying questions before offering solutions.
#2. Define Ground Rules
Clearly define the rules to the involved parties to not lose office environment integrity. For example: What language and tone are acceptable to describe the concerns? Use of “I” statement instead of “you” to avoid any blame game.
#3. Show Empathy While Listening
Try to see the situation from the other person’s perspective and understand their feelings. Show positive body language. This will encourage the involved parties to bring out all their emotions and explain clearly what they are feeling.
The more appropriately people can name their emotions, the lesser the severity of the emotion in their minds!Surbhi Mahnot
#4. Focus On Finding The Root Cause
After listening to both parties, take time to investigate the case. Dig deeper and learn more about the happenings, involved parties, the issues, and how people feel. Furthermore, try finding any underlying conflict sources that may not be evident or noticeable initially. It’s always great to seek consensus from people not involved in the dispute to get complete details.
#5. Find The Right Place And Stay Neutral
When resolving conflict, it is crucial that all the involved people feel comfortable and safe to speak. Do not start such conversations randomly in a meeting room or on the office floor where other people can listen. For communication to happen honestly, ensure a private place with only the necessary people.
#6. Don’t Intimidate. Focus On Tackling The Problem Instead Of The Person
Don’t abuse your position of authority. In the long run, to confide in you when something goes wrong, your team should feel confident to come and talk to you directly before the situation becomes beyond repairable.
#7. Use Persuasive Combinations
When resolving conflicts, it’s best to suggest to people what you would have done in this situation and what your experience says. This often means giving people a choice between two options or scenarios for consideration. Give them time to think together to reach the conclusion that you see. Remember not to confuse these negotiation skills with manipulation.
#8. Act Decisively And Find Common Grounds
Ensure that you conclude the conflict with both parties involved. Please do not leave it hanging. Be assertive while offering the proper guidance and what you feel about the situation. Also, for your decision to be effective, it is necessary to find common grounds where both parties feel involved and find it fair.
#9. Bring In A Mediator If Needed
Prefer bringing any dedicated mediator or HR person to intervene if needed. Some organizations have a designated mediator, while some prefer to hire an independent, third-party professional mediator. Mediation is a viable option for creating a structure for conflict resolution in an unbiased manner.
#10. Follow Up
Monitoring how things are going once a conflict is resolved is necessary. There might be chances of people being dissatisfied with the agreed solution and not working the right way.
Conflict is unavoidable in the workplace, but these resolution strategies are always good for keeping it in check. The key to peaceful negotiation is understanding when to intervene and which style is needed to resolve the conflict.
- How to be assertive in the workplace?
- Why practice self-awareness in the workplace?
- Ten ways to use emotional intelligence in the workplace.
- Coping with stress in the workplace by Leutenberg and Liptak contains activities, assessments, journaling prompts, and educational handouts.
- People Skills: How to Assert Yourself, Listen to Others, and Resolve Conflicts by Robert Bolton.
- Crucial Conversations: Tools for Talking When Stakes Are High by Kerry Patterson, Joseph Grenny, Ron McMillan, and Al Switzler.
- Emotional Intelligence: Why It Can Matter More Than IQ by Daniel Goleman.