If you’re like most of the leaders that I’ve met, one of your least favorite parts of the job is diffusing workplace conflicts. That conflicts would arise is, of course, inevitable: when you get people working together in close proximity, tensions are going to develop, misunderstandings are going to happen, and feelings are going to get hurt. Dealing with these conflicts is never fun, but it is essential—and if you do it right, you can address conflicts in a way that actually make your team stronger.
Let me show you what I mean. What follows are a few things every leader should keep in mind with regard to the conflict resolution process.
What We Already Know About Office Conflicts
- Office Conflict is a sign that people care. Trust me: As much as you might think you want a conflict-free workplace, you don’t. Not really. A workplace with no conflict is one where the team members no longer feel any enthusiasm for one another, nor any connection to their job. Conflict implies caring, and that’s something you can build on.
- Conflict can be healthy. You don’t want employees yelling at each other and calling one another names, but you should seek some healthy communication—and conflict can often be a catalyst for that. If you can get both people to speak directly and to listen closely to one another, an experience with conflict may actually lead to stronger bonds of teamwork.
- Conflict can often require a level-headed moderator. If you’re going to try to manage the conflict, make sure you allow yourself time to cool off, first. Don’t let angry emotions guide your attempts at peacemaking, because you’ll find it highly counterproductive!
- Conflicts usually aren’t personal. The triggering issue may seem personal, but really, most workplace conflicts are about deeper feelings. Try to determine what’s really guiding feelings of anger—team members who are not properly appreciated, whose work is not well defined, etc.
- Office Conflict is best addressed through listening. Trying to stifle the feelings of your team members is dead wrong. Always give them room to vent, and to explain what’s really bothering them. Sometimes that can be healing in and of itself.
These principles may be useful to you as you consider the role of conflict in your workplace. I certainly hope so. In addition to the above, I highly recommend that all leaders enroll in conflict resolution training whenever they can.
Rick is the author of the book Living A Championship Life, “A Game Plan for Success”. He is also the co–author of the book Jamie’s Journey: Travels with My Dad written with his sixteen-year-old daughter Jamie.
Dr. Rick is famous for helping organizations, corporations, and individuals with systems and strategies that produce increased profits and productivity. Some of Dr. Rick’s clients include Heineken, AT&T, Boeing, Cavium Networks, IBM, Hewlett Packard, and Franklin Templeton Investments.
Contact Dr. Rick at www.rickgoodman.com or call 888-267-6098 about speaking at your next event!