Lets first begin by defining clearly the term “conflict”. Conflict is a disagreement where two parties feel that their emotional needs, concerns or interests are at risk. Why is understanding conflict so important? Because unfortunately it is unavoidable. No matter who you are or what you do you will end up facing some form of conflict many times in your life.
What happens when we feel conflict approaching?
On a biological level 2 things happen when individuals feel conflict or perceive “danger” approaching and that is fight or flight. How does it manifest? Well in conflict someone who feels “fight” will end up lashing out, being defensive and doing everything they can to become the attacker simply because they feel attacked. "Flight" on the other hand will lead a person to retreating. Either emotionally, physically or mentally from the situation.
A real life example of conflict - one of the most common: in the workplace.
Because most jobs will have various elements of stress and responsibility conflict is somewhat unavoidable. For upper level management the key is to understand when to step in, and when to let people figure out their issues on their own.
The risk of not stepping in at the right time though can be dangerous. For example, there is a conflict between two team members in the workplace and both of them are “fleeing”. In the end it leads to loss of motivation, feeling uncomfortable and unresolved in the workplace and can potentially lead to explosive issues like violence, legal action etc.
However if upper management is able to identify work conflict and encourage healthy communication it can lead to stronger bonds, increased productivity, and ultimately improve the overall morale and energy of the workplace. The best part? If as a manager you are not certain how to handle a conflict, bringing in a life coach, or more specifically a business coach can be a great way to learn first hand how to handle these types of situations better.
Now let’s go into how to manage workplace conflict effectively.
- Stay neutral and calm. This means being able to process and understand the opinions and feelings of both sides. Encourage the people in conflict to acknowledge at the very least the point of view of the other. Make sure everyone feels validated and heard.
- Acknowledge the problem. This means make sure that both parties feel their emotions or problem is being taken seriously. After all, if an individuals feels that their issues are not addressed they will end up feeling undermined and perhaps lash out even more making the conflict worse.
- Focus on the issue, not the details or the people. Getting caught up too much in the individual characteristics of each party or every minute detail ultimately doesn’t help. Why? It is not necessary when trying to come to a positive outcome.
- Have your eyes on the prize. Which is a solution. A compromise or an action that will allow both parties to walk away feeling their needs at least in some way have been met and they were respected.
These techniques can be applied not only in the workplace but for any type of conflict you face. It may seem scary at first but the more you practice approaching conflict in this way the easier it will become and you will notice an improvement in your communication and also the relationships you have with people around you. You may even be able to strengthen previously weaker relationships simply because you are now able to validate and understand everyone around you. Furthermore it may be worth looking into business coaching services for your whole team just to make sure you stay on top of things before they become an issue. The benefits of using top business coaches to learn all of these things and more is truely undeniable.