Conflict Management in the Workplace: What to Do?

In order to improve relationship with colleges and superiors, one must always rely on the strengths of their personality and have ample courage to work on their weak points. · How can one identify different types of conflicts? · How can one recognize when there is a strategy involved? · How can one get out…

In order to improve relationship with colleges and superiors, one must always rely on the strengths of their personality and have ample courage to work on their weak points.

· How can one identify different types of conflicts?

· How can one recognize when there is a strategy involved?

· How can one get out of the conflict and negotiate their way to a win all situation?

These are a few questions that are often asked.

Conflicts, though seen as bad, are not always so. If it is controlled, a conflict may help in bringing out emotions and let one speak their mind. And if it is not managed well, it may well cut off all communication and lead to silence.

How to deal with conflicts?

At times conflict may be the only way for some to communicate with others. So how will one deal with them?

It all depends on how we are and how we would react once confronted with a conflict.

· We may think of it as a form of violence and thus avoid any source of conflict, terrorized at the mere thought of being in one.

· We may enjoy conflict and find it stimulating and be at ease in expressing ourselves.

· We may use conflict as a defense mechanism, even when there is no 'attack' coming up.

· We may be neutral towards it. Either seeking nor avoiding it.

We are all individuals, with each our own mind and thoughts. It reflects our perception of the world, our values, the way we hear and understand and how we feel and react.

What are the different types of conflicts?

Conflicts may arise in interest, values, power, interpretation or projection. Thought the most common conflict in the field of business is the conflict in interpretation or projection; usually preceded by strong emotions of fear, anger, injustice etc.

Let's consider a situation where a manager who is very protective of his employees and has a parental attitude. He desires for his employees to act in accordance with him, and the rules that he has implemented.

Now, if there were to be an employee who is used to working independently, he will naturally act according to his experience and the rules of the profession, while he respects the overall framework. He may not inform his manager of his day to day actions or choices.

The manager may feel a sense of disrespect, and be threatened by this employee and term him as incompetent.

Whereas, the employee might be pleased with himself and think the manager may agree him for his efficiency and professional work.

This may be the start of a conflict, as both have different opinion about themselves.

As there are so many different ways to manage a team and work with co-workers, it can be difficult to understand each other. So how should one overcome this duality of conflict?

How to overcome a conflict?

Sometimes one needs to be at term with their own emotions and let their guard down. Think of yourself as a knight impulsively inviting a rival to a duel. What would be going on in the mind of your rival? Will he be jeopardized by this sudden invitation? Would he be aggressive and tense?

Now think what if we were to start from a position where we knew that the other did not want to harm us? Would not it solve a lot of our problems?

When you are preparing for an interview, analyze the situation beforehand. Formulate your needs and expectations. 'This is what I feel … These are my needs and expectations.'

Be empathetic, put yourself in your colleague's shoes. Consider it from their point of view as they were doing it in the best interest of the company. Then, once you understand the situation, let the dialogue begin.

If you were to write an e-mail, do not hesitate to write down the emotional flow that comes spontaneously, but do not send it. Save it as a 'draft.' Read it after a while, keep only the facts you need. Allow yourself three factual lines at the end of the e-mail to demystify the conflict, and re-open the dialogue.

Conflict is a relation game.

Even though everything may end up in a conflict, nothing is necessarily confrontational.

Think about it: There is only conflict when it is decided that there is one, and to set up a conflict there must be at least two of you. If either one of the two does not think of it as a conflict, then it will never be there.

It is kind of a relational game, and like any other game, you can refuse to play. Especially when you are not directly involved but just a witness. On the other hand, if you try to avoid it by ignoring, it could be disastrous.

Instead, try to put yourself in an all win situation. If an exchange is heading into a conflict, do not hesitate to:

1. Place yourself in a position as a referendum, where you can listen, summarize and reformulate.

2. Remove all emotional and un-factual opinions.

3. Identify the points that are important for both parties that they can not compromise on.

4. Find the correct words to define each party's needs and expectations.

5. Try to find what connects the parties beyond the conflict. They may share a common interest or objective.

6. Make each of them talk about this interest and objective so they can find a common ground.

7. Make both parties understand that the same objective can be achieved in different ways.

8. Make them think about how this has helped them bring closer and how they can learn from each other to work better together towards their aim.

Communication is the key

Remember unity is always the strength – in everyday life as well as at work!

· To avoid any conflicts at the workplace, a successful manager should know about his employees' background, be able to listen to them and their needs, as well as share the workload among them in accordance with their skills.

· The manager should plan person-to-person meetings to know the feelings of their staff, as some may be shy to express themselves in front of others.

· And most importantly, always leave your personal issues at home!