Conflicts are indeed uncomfortable and undesired by all of us, both in our personal and professional life. It can occur between friends, family, or colleagues at the workplace. Overcoming it helps us work and compete productively. There are numerous conflict resolution strategies to achieve this.
Conflict arises when there is a disagreement of perspective or interests in an organization or a relationship. Click here to see a list of conflict resolution strategies adopted by Indeed career guide.
Different people use specific methods to resolve conflicts. Most of them have one or more preferred conflict resolution strategies that they use commonly. For example, some people prefer to clarify the source of conflict, which is one strategy to solve problems.
Besides conflict resolution strategies, conflict resolution skills are also essential to resolve an issue. For example, you must view the obstacle as an opportunity to learn something new. Sometimes it takes years of practice and experience to acquire these skills.
In a workplace, conflicts occur between two co-workers, entire team members, or between supervisors and the members they supervise. The reason for such disputes can be poor leadership, workload stress, a high degree of frustration, anxiety, discomfort, misunderstanding, or anger.
Along with varied reasons for a conflict, there are also associated reactions to it. This includes sweaty palms, stomach ache, rapid shaking of legs, avoiding eye contact, fast-beating heart, continuous drinking of water, frequent visits to the washroom, and similar reactions.
While working with people, we tend to interpret, analyze, evaluate, and judge, which can be problematic. That’s why while dealing with conflict, we should always focus on facts than on personal beliefs and opinions.
18 Conflict Resolution Strategies You Must Know
1. Clarify the Source of the Conflict
Since there can be multiple reasons for a conflict, double-check the source of the issue. Try to interrogate the people involved without using accusatory language. Because sometimes, there are other deep-rooted issues linked to the main one, which will help you reach the root of the problem.
Once the source of the conflict is clarified, handling the conflict becomes easy. It also helps you prevent the same problem from recurring in the future.
2. Engage Team Members in Cooperative Competition
Competition is natural among co-workers in an organization, but it can be both healthy and unhealthy. For instance, unhealthy competition makes the working environment susceptible to unnecessary conflicts whereas, the healthy and cooperative competition encourages people to work together.
Therefore, team members should cooperate reasonably and encourage each other, thereby becoming equally responsible for success and failure. They must not allege or blame each other to avoid complicating a conflict.
Adjustment involves satisfying other team’s demands at the expense of your own. This ensures a quick resolution of the issues at hand. But never overuse this strategy because it will not always yield the desired result.
Hence, choose this conflict resolution strategy only when you are left with no other option because it can be risky.
4. Avoid Conflict Whenever You Can
Minor conflicts can happen anytime and drain a high amount of time and energy. So try to avoid them whenever possible. Instead, diverting that energy and time to accomplish goals is healthier. However, a prolonged attempt to abide by this strategy can make a person passive and less initiative.
This conflict resolution strategy allows the integration of different opinions to develop a creative and acceptable solution. So, this strategy stresses giving equal respect and importance to everyone’s point of view on the matter.
6. Communicate the Needs
Communication is significant in resolving any conflict, especially when it occurs due to the unfulfillment of needs. To avoid such issues, a company should communicate its expectations and needs to the parties involved. Consequently, members of the organization will be able to tackle the conflict logically and consistently.
7. Guide Rather Than Solve
The leader of any organization is a supervisor and a mediator, not a participant or supporter. Hence, they should direct their co-workers in finding a solution to the problems by themselves.
The leader can ensure this by training their employees’ minds to be alert and focused. The leader has to encourage them to search for ways to resolve a conflict and make them self-dependent.
8. Make Use of Humor
Using humor as a conflict resolution strategy makes sense as it helps to soothe interpersonal relationships, handle conflictual situations, create unity among people, and reduce stress. However, use this strategy effectively without disrespecting anyone.
Reflection involves rephrasing and repeating what you have heard and understood about the conflict. This is to confirm that you are attentive and interested in resolving the issue. To make this a successful strategy, reflect upon both positive and negative aspects of the problem to obtain a suitable solution.
10. Use Appropriate Nonverbal Cues
Nonverbal cues are as important as verbal cues in an interpersonal relationship. Examples of nonverbal cues are body language, tone of voice and gestures. Since they are easily noticeable and likely to be offensive, you must be careful while communicating non-verbally.
11. Use Personal Willpower and Stamina
It is possible for people caught up in conflicts to take the arguments to heart, and further, to feel offended and disrespected. A solution to this is to use your willpower and stamina and distance yourself from toxic influence. To make things better, distract yourself by aiming for the goal.
12. Find a Safe and Private Place To Talk About The Matter
Mainly, anger and frustration in people are stimulated by their working atmosphere. So, instead of discussing the issue in the same arena, organize a constructive conversation in a safe, private, and neutral environment. Such an ambiance makes the people feel comfortable and relaxed to talk more about the issue.
In addition to finding a safe and private place to talk about the matter, pay attention to finding a suitable medium to deal with the issue. It could be an in-person chat, call, video call, email, or face-to-face conversation. The chosen medium should be appropriate for the people involved.
13. Define Acceptable and Non-acceptable Behavior
This strategy involves introducing guidelines in the job description to the employees about acceptable and non-acceptable behavior. Also include the repercussions of going against them to reduce or eliminate problems in the setting. Thus, through this effective strategy, people can become alert and prevent conflicts from arising.
14. Think Opportunistically About the Conflict
This conflict resolution strategy encourages people to look at the positive side of conflictual situations to learn something new. This can have positive outcomes if managed constructively.
For example, people can enhance their productivity level by learning from failures. This strategy helps generate a deep trust among members of the organization, and in turn, improves their relationship leading to a rise in efficiency of the company.
15. Use Constructive Criticism
Some conflicts are more critical than others. Since it is not practicable to run away from these issues, constructive criticism is the only way to deal with them.
Although it is a difficult situation, try to appreciate the positive work done besides addressing the issue. It is helpful because the people you are criticizing now are the ones you will be working with in the future.
16. Listen Actively
Develop the habit of listening to people without any interruptions, outbursts, or judgments. It is indeed a powerful technique to resolve a conflict. This helps organize a meaningful discussion where everyone gets a fair chance to express their feelings and thoughts about the situation.
17. Don’t Use Threats and Provocation Techniques
People involved in a conflict typically think that they are right because of egocentrism. Therefore, fair conflict resolution strategies often become biased due to varied perceptions about an issue.
To prevent this, we have to overcome our self-centered perception during the conflict. It is also crucial to avoid escalating conflict with threats and provocation techniques while capturing another person’s attention.
18. Beware of Silence in Conflict Resolution
Silence has a different role in conflict resolution so, be aware of the type of silence involved because its meaning depends upon the contexts.
For example, awkward silence in a conversation can denote a lack of interest or understanding of the subject matter. So fill in the gaps in a conversation promptly to avoid misunderstanding and conflicts.
Even if a conflict unfolds during project management, a project manager can use various conflict resolution strategies to lead the team by clearing the issues. Adopting these strategies will give the project manager the benefit of a multi-perspective approach to managing work and conflict.
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Therefore, it is necessary to resolve conflicts healthily and productively through effective conflict resolution strategies. Choose a conflict resolution strategy wisely, keeping in mind that every problem requires a unique solution.