Don't Let Conflict Lead To Loss Of Productivity And Poor Outcomes

 By: Richi James
Few things can be as damaging to any organization, workplace, or even the home as conflict. It is immaterial whether the conflict is between two equals or between two people in unequal relationships like superior and subordinate or parent and child. The clash of personalities arises because two people perceive the same issue differently, but can’t reconcile those differences amicably. You need effective conflict resolution in such situations so that neither the organization nor the individuals involved suffer adverse consequences.

Diffuse Potentially Volatile Situations

Potentially volatile situations are particularly dangerous for the productivity and profitability of any business or office. You need superb conflict resolution skills to diffuse such situations. You need empathy more than anything else to be able to understand the divergence of perspective which is creating conflict between two people. Normal human behavior is to try and show up the other in poor light to establish that one is in the right. You will need to circumvent such minefields to encourage people to try and view the area of conflict from the perspective of the other.

While cultural differences could be at the root of the conflict; don’t oversimplify the situation. Try and understand the drivers of the conflict to bring the focus back on the goals of the team, department, and the office to help sanity prevail. Focus your mind on acceptable solutions rather than attacking anyone and develop appropriate conflict resolution strategies to deal with emerging situations. A key strategy has to be to listen carefully to both sides to try and understand what is really troubling someone. Quite often some totally unexpected factor gets thrown up from gentle probing which puts a different complexion on the issue.

Deal with the Conflict

Evaluating the deeper motivation for the conflict is the first step. Make sure each party has equal time to talk and listen. The key is to be understanding rather than judgmental. While listening, make sure that your body language displays attention rather than aggression. You need to be the catalyst to help people remember that they trust and respect each other, which in turn will lead to effective resolution instead of withdrawal or enhanced aggression.

You must always give people time to back down and cool off before a satisfactory solution can be found. Remember to give both parties the opportunity to express their ideas, feelings, and opinions to identify which needs have been overlooked that led to the conflict in the first place. Help each side feel valued, so that there are no winners or losers.
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