Conflict is inevitable in the workplace and, when not managed well, can decrease productivity and increase stress levels. However, if handled effectively, conflict can also bring about positive outcomes and help to foster creativity and innovation.
In addition, an employee who is skilled at managing conflict can add value to an organization by improving relationships between teams and departments, mitigating resentment and frustration, and helping employees feel heard.
By using a win-win approach (looking for ways in which everyone can benefit from the situation) is often the most effective strategy when facing adversity within the workplace.
In this article, I will outline some conflict management techniques that you can implement to help navigate problems in the workplace and avoid costly confrontations.
What are Conflict Management Strategies?
Conflict management strategies are techniques, methods, or approaches that are used to resolve conflict by discovering mutually beneficial outcomes. This is achieved through the identification of common ground and shared interests between opposing parties.
Managers often look for ways in which they can excel at resolving conflict with their employees through active listening, encouraging open dialogue, and offering creative solutions.
Conflict Management Strategies in the Workplace – Why These Are Important & List of 10 Benefits
Decide what problems need addressing before you approach the situation with conflict management strategies. This way, you won’t waste time trying to understand what the issues are when you could be finding a solution instead.
Conflict management strategies in the workplace are important because, without them, it becomes difficult to communicate effectively with others or understand where someone is coming from.
If the conflict continues, then you need to address this topic by looking at what both parties are thinking and why they think that way.
List of 10 Benefits That Successful Conflict Management Strategies Provide
- You’ll be more effective when communicating with others
- Your company culture will improve
- It creates an environment where different points of view are valuable and respected
- Your employees will perform better
- You’ll be able to plan more effectively
- It speeds up decision making
- Customers and clients will feel positive about your business relationships
- Less time will be wasted on unnecessary meetings or discussions
- You’ll spend less money on legal fees by avoiding conflicts altogether
- The amount of stress you experience at work will decrease dramatically
Best Conflict Management Strategies in 7 Steps – Best Practices
1. Clarify what is the source of conflict
Clarifying the source of the conflict is the first step in resolving it. It is important to have a clear understanding of what caused the disagreement so that you can work out how to resolve it.
This may involve asking questions like ‘What problem are we trying to solve?’ and ‘What information do I need to make this process fair for everyone involved?’ By gathering information on why there is friction between people at work, you’ll be able to uncover possible reasons behind their actions or attitudes.
This will help you avoid making assumptions about the situation and wasting time by dealing with who is right or wrong when managing conflict in the workplace.
2. Find a safe and private place to talk
Once you’ve identified where the issue stems from, find a private space where you can talk to your employee in person. The conflict mustn’t escalate due to lack of privacy, so make sure you find a location where you will not be interrupted.
If it is impossible to speak one-on-one, make sure other parties are aware that their input should not interrupt the conversation and only come back into the discussion when invited. This reduces distractions and ensures that both parties are heard by keeping them separated during this part of the process.
3. Listen actively and let everyone have their say
By listening to what each party has to say, you’ll be able to get insight into how they feel about the situation.
Look for areas that you can agree with each other about, as this will help create clear boundaries that you can both work within. This is the first step to resolving conflict in the workplace.
4. Investigate the situation
Before jumping to conclusions about why there are problems, look at the facts objectively. Ask yourself questions like ‘What evidence do I have for my current beliefs?’ or ‘How has this issue evolved?’.
If you’re finding it difficult to separate your emotions from what’s being said, write down how everyone involved feels instead of trying to guess their thoughts. This will prevent personal biases that may be affecting your judgment.
5. Determine ways to meet the common goal
6. Agree on the best solution and determine the responsibilities each party has in the resolution
7. Evaluate how things are going and decide on preventative strategies for the future
Finally, review how successful your conflict management strategies have been by evaluating if they’ve helped move towards resolving any issues as well as determining what could have been done differently.
This will help you create preventative strategies for the future should these issues arise again, ensuring that it’s easier to resolve problems as they occur.
How to Improve Conflict Management Strategies
One great way to improve your conflict management strategies includes stepping back from the situation and asking yourself what you want to get out of it.
If you can’t be objective about the situation, ask someone else who isn’t emotionally invested in the situation what they think. This means that you have to approach the situation with a much less defensive mindset.
This will prevent you from being so upset by what’s being said that you can’t be objective about it anymore. Understanding why there are problems is one of the first steps to resolving conflict in the workplace, which means it’s important to be open-minded.
If someone isn’t being responsive during your conversation, try asking questions that will allow them to share their perspective without feeling like they need to defend themselves. This step requires you to ask effective questions and truly listen to the answers.
Listening doesn’t mean agreeing with everything someone says, but it does mean understanding where they’re coming from even if you don’t agree with them.
You must also determine if the problem with your conflict management strategies is due to a lack of information. If you’re not sure what you’re doing wrong, ask for clarification.
This step involves asking simple questions like ” What do you think I’m doing wrong? ” or ” Is there anything I could be doing better? ” This is an easy way to start this conversation. You must also build on the previous steps by finding common ground between both parties.
For example, if one person doesn’t feel comfortable speaking up in meetings and another person feels they always need to speak their mind, then it may be that there are ways they can cooperate during meetings so that everyone’s voice is heard.
This might mean having someone take notes during the meeting instead of talking so that the other person can concentrate on what’s being said. Once you have a better understanding of the problem, start looking for ways to fix it together.
If one party has anger management problems, do they need help with their emotions regulated? Can you suggest other outlets for them to take out their stress so that it doesn’t spill over into work? Is there something about the meeting environment that is intimidating to them? You should also consider if any overarching issues in your work contribute to this conflict.
This means looking at systemic issues like office politics or power dynamics between yourself and another employee/client/partner until you understand how these dynamics affect the way people act within an organization.
Once both parties know where each other are coming from, you can start looking for solutions to the problems. This step should involve both parties working together to find a solution that takes everyone’s needs into account.
What Are the Five Conflict Resolution Strategies?
Five conflict resolution strategies are commonly used in the workplace today. The first is known as avoiding the conflict and it’s characterized by trying to avoid being affected by the problem.
For example, if a coworker makes a rude comment about your work then you might not respond because you don’t want them to feel as though they can walk all over you. To some extent, avoiding conflict is useful because it means that both people have learned how to deal with their problems on their own and aren’t distracted from getting their work done.
The next is known as competing to win conflicts and is accompanied by behaviors where each party tries to get what they want at the cost of the other person. It often involves using manipulative or aggressive tactics during negotiations so that one person gets what they want without considering what impact this will have on the other person.
While this method might win the short-term battle, it can lead to a long-term loss because neither party might benefit from this arrangement. The third is known as accommodating the other person and involves giving up your own needs or interests to make someone else happy even if you don’t want to.
For example, imagine that a coworker asks you for help with something but it means staying late at work. In this situation, you might accommodate them because you don’t want to inconvenience their workload without a good reason.
In some cases, people may abuse this approach by asking others to do things that they know are unacceptable just so that they can gain power or control over their lives. The fourth method is known as compromising during conflicts and involves coming up with a solution that meets both parties needs.
It’s important to understand what each party wants out of the situation before you begin negotiations because this will give you the foundation for finding a more suitable alternative.
For example, if you’re in a group project at work then your teammates might express their wishes by stating how long they would like to work on it and what kinds of actions they would prefer to take.
Negotiating might also involve splitting tasks up equally so that everyone is working towards the same goal but having time where they can focus on specific responsibilities. The final strategy is known as collaborating to find a solution and it encourages all members of the group or team to come together with different ideas.
People who are leading this negotiation should try to encourage participation from everyone so that they don’t leave people out of the conversation. Collaboration is often what creates a greater understanding of where the group stands and gives each person a chance to express their opinion or feelings about an issue.
In most cases, collaborative conflict resolution strategies are considered the best because they involve a wide range of opinions and allow for different contributions to be made. Group members may not always agree with one another but this approach helps them accept that there can be multiple ways to address an issue.
Conflict Management Strategies Vs. Conflict Management Skills
Conflict management skills are different from conflict management strategies. Strategies involve things like how to avoid conflict, while skills involve things like compromising and collaborating.
Both of these are important because a person can have a lot of conflict management skills but not know how to apply them in the proper situations. On the other hand, they may have some basic strategies for avoiding or withdrawing from conflicts, but not have any skills for collaborating with others.
The difference between these two is often based on experience because it’s important to understand why people are engaging in certain behaviors instead of just knowing what they are doing.
Conflict management strategies involve things that people do automatically when dealing with their problems while conflict management skills are more conscious ideas that people might need additional help developing.
It’s also useful to keep in mind that both of these concepts are important at different points in time. When someone has developed many skills, then avoiding or withdrawing might be more effective because they know how to directly confront a situation before it becomes too serious.
Meanwhile, someone who doesn’t have a lot of conflict management skills might not know what steps to take if their first attempts don’t work because they didn’t plan for this.
In the end, both sets of behaviors are important and can be applied across many situations as long as you understand which approach might be best depending on each individual’s personality or background.
Conflict Management Strategies In the Classroom
In the classroom, conflict management strategies include a wide range of approaches. For example, teachers may attempt to prevent conflicts by providing clear instructions and setting clear boundaries.
This approach includes explaining to students why they are taking certain actions and how it will benefit them in the long run, which most kids appreciate.
If a conflict does occur in the classroom, then most teachers use strategies that help their students learn from the experience. This might include discussions about what happened or asking for advice on how to resolve similar problems in the future.
Teachers also may give consequences so that students learn not to engage in this behavior again. Negotiation is another type of strategy that teachers use with their students when conflicts arise.
This approach involves both parties having equal power within a situation so that everyone is open to compromise rather than fighting over who’s right and wrong.
Teachers often introduce this method by encouraging each party involved to take some time alone to think about what they want and then come back together to talk about it. Teachers can also come up with a list of solutions that they present to the students.
Frequently Asked Questions About Conflict Management Strategies
What Are Unproductive Conflict Management Strategies?
Unproductive conflict management strategies are those that don’t help the group or team achieve their goals. This type of response might involve withdrawing from a situation because someone doesn’t want to deal with it anymore.
While this may provide short-term relief, it can also create disengagement within the group which can lead to even more problems down the road as people withdraw and fail to contribute.
What Are Conflict Management Strategies in Healthcare?
Healthcare professionals are often tasked with several responsibilities and this can make it challenging to juggle everything properly. Conflict management is one skill that may be especially important in health care because many people might not get along or want to work together for various reasons.
In any case, effective conflict management strategies in healthcare would involve things like sorting out the problems as soon as possible and avoiding blaming or accusing anyone. It can also be helpful to acknowledge individual boundaries and work with them so that everyone feels respected.
Overall Conclusion for Conflict Management Strategies
In conclusion, conflicts are an inevitable part of life that occur anytime groups or teams have different interests or goals. Conflict management strategies involve things like avoiding the conflict, withdrawing from it, compromising with others, and collaborating to find a solution.
By understanding these different approaches, it is possible to determine which strategy might be best for a particular situation. Conflict management skills involve being conscious of the behaviors you are applying and knowing why they are effective.
The next time conflict arises, keep the above information in mind so that you have a better idea of how to handle the situation in the most effective way.