Within the best of workplace environments conflict is a possibility. Any situation involving more than one person, is a platform for conflict. Why? That’s because we think and act differently. And this understanding is the key to solving any inter-personal conflict.
Three steps that can help resolve conflict:
Stay calm. Conflict presents an opportunity – more like a temptation – to turn aggressive and try to intimidate the other person verbally or non-verbally and have your way. It’s called bulldozing. Don’t do it. You’ll be surprised how much the other(s) can counter resist with their measure of aggression, even if it is passive. Stay calm.
Focus on the issue, not the individual. Yes, this is important because it is so easy to foster a bias against an individual based on background factors that are not related to work – his/her community, language, age and such others which can irreversibly damage the conflict resolution process if you go down that path.
(Read also Groupism is Counterproductive).
Look at the problem from their position. Ask what can be done to resolve the issue and this is perhaps the most important link in the chain of the Conflict Resolution process; ask, as the internationally renowned inter-personal relationships expert Bob Burg, writes in his book Adversaries Into Allies – ‘What can I do to help?’ Seeing the issue from the other person’s point of view immediately defuses much of the crisis.
Applying the three-step method to managing conflict at work will take some practice before you perfect it but the sooner we learn it means the earlier we have dealt with our egos!