Ultimate Learning Guide To Successful Conflict Management
The business world is all about interactions. Business owners interact with their workers. Coworkers interact with their coworkers. Workers interact with customers. Customers interact with the products. With so many different types of interactions comes the need to make sure that they maintain a sense of civility.
Conflict is inevitable. With diverse mindsets comes misunderstandings and with misunderstandings sometimes comes conflict. Conflicts themselves aren’t problematic, but the aftermath of them can be. Raised voices, physical threats, and other negative repercussions of unresolved conflicts can happen. It’s important that businesses keep these incidents from happening. It could be bad for business and literally cost them lots of money. That’s why conflict management is so important. This guide will help you understand the importance of conflict management.
What is it about a conflict that makes it so hard to deal with? What is it about a conflict that can turn the most docile of people into complete jerks? Many people change in the face of conflict. It’s alarming when we see the physical and verbal changes in people. One answer lies in understanding what conflict is and how the misconception of it actually increases the chances of it happening.
When many people think of conflict, the first thing they want to do is to avoid it at all costs. Some people simply walk away from it. Other people tend to take it to the other extreme and allow it to fume inside them and they explode. They wind themselves up and then go in for the attack. Others will have physical illness manifestations of the conflict and go on stress or sick leave. It’s surprising the lengths people will go to avoid conflict and the personal stress that manifests with it.
The problem comes from denying that the conflict is happening. By avoiding it, we’re denying it exists. It’s one of the most common problems people have. They’re not resolving the issue, or they think they’re resolving the issue but it’s only denial in a different proverbial coating. In denying the problem, people bury their heads in the sand and the conflict continues to go on. Some conflicts go on as long as months or even years!
Many people assume that conflict is an extreme version of the actual definition. Metaphorically speaking, they consider it to be an all-out war. They come to the situation ready to slaughter their opponent or expect that they’re going to get hurt in the process. In a way, these people are confronting the situation from a “fight or flight” mode, relying on human survival instincts when there’s no need to take it that far. On top of this, the definition of conflict is belittled in that people will assume that anything less than all-out war isn’t a real conflict. In truth, many conflicts start off small. They’re little upsets between two opposing parties. From here, it builds and grows and then becomes a battle.
Conflict is defined as a moment when one person has a need of another, and that need isn’t being met. The definition is deceptively simple, but this is because it’s only the definition. The process is where it gets more involved.
Resolving a Conflict
Consider the following steps to resolve a conflict.
1) Express this need
Piggybacking off of the definition of conflict, we have the first step of expressing your need. When upset with someone else, remember that it’s because a specific need of yours isn’t being met. If you’re having an issue with expressing this to the person you’re in conflict with, consider taking a quiet moment and sitting down and writing out what the need is. Clarity will help you not only understand what your specific need is, but also help to calm you down. The calmer and collected you are, the better you can convey your need.
2) Find out if this need can’t or can be met
Sometimes, after learning what our need is, we realize that it may or may not be obtainable. After understanding what our need is, we can reevaluate it and realize later on that it isn’t something that we can easily get. If the need can be met then that’s when we want to move towards a resolution. If the answer is a no, then we move towards the negotiation process. In certain situations, we may move toward the management of conflict.
3) Don’t jump the gun
Many people jump from the phase of an unmet need right into the management of conflict. They feel intimidated by the first and second steps. They’re afraid to talk to the people who can do something about it. The passive way of dealing with it may seem helpful but it’s not. When jumping toward the management of conflict, the person begins to sulk, withdrawal within themselves, get ill, and give people involved the silent treatment. In more socially toxic situations, backstabbing and gossip become part of the management of conflict. In other words, people tend to lean on the passive-aggressive nature of dealing with conflict. Without warning, they’ll begin shouting and blocking someone out.
4) Get a mediator involved
Some conflicts, especially those that have gone on for quite a long time, escalate. Evaluate the conflict and if it seems like it has got to a point to where it can’t be resolved between you and the other party, consider getting a mediator involved. This neutral third party will keep both sides from going overboard. In workplaces, this mediator can normally be found in the Human Resource department. After all, their job is to help keep things civil and running smoothly between the different people involved.
Managing Conflict the Right Way
When taking into consideration the “manage” part of managing conflict, it’s good to take into account when you’d want to fuel the conflict or stop the conflict. Fueling the conflict should only be done when it can be helpful for both parties and all those involved. One helpful situation would be when an important and much-needed dialogue is opened up. In these positive situations, the playing field is even among people and they’re able to express their needs. The goal is to try and get to the core issue. The parties involved are trying to get to a better result. Stopping a conflict is necessary when it is obvious that the resulting conversation or conflict isn’t going to be helpful. This situation presents itself in different ways, but most commonly when someone’s feeling hostile or personally attacked. You’ll want to stop the conflict when you’re disrespecting people on any level, whether they are a customer, team member, vending partner or a stockholder. One of the easiest questions we can ask ourselves in this situation is “is this conflict hindering progress?” If the answer is yes, then chances are it’s time to stop.
More Tips on Managing Conflict
1) Educate yourself
There are multiple resources out there available to you to learn an in-depth way of managing conflict. This guide only skims the top of the greater subject. Professionals and academics have written about the subject for years. The glory of this is also that many of the conflict management strategies are different. People are different, so sometimes approaching things in an unconventional way can be the solution.
2) Educate your team members (for those in a management position)
For this tip, you’re basically letting your team know what’s going to happen. It demystifies the fear of conflict by outright saying that it will happen at some point. Consider using one of the popular strategies for understanding the dynamics of group involvement and conflict. One concept is Tuckman’s Stages of Group Development. This concept brings to light that when a project first forms, or when a group of people first begin working together it presents the group with new variables they have to contend with. The concept follows a “forming, storming, norming, performing” process. The team forms, and then there’s the storming when people begin meeting their boundaries, so a storm of conflict begins to arise. Once out of the storming phase, they begin to find equilibrium in the norming phase. In other words, certain norms are established within the group. From here, they begin performing as a team once more. Pointing out such processes and emphasizing that they’re natural will help to make conflicts feel less of a personal issue and increase the chances of group members coming forth to express their needs.
3) Create a plan
After you’ve educated yourself (and your group), it is time to take action. The best way to do this is to assess the conflict with some of the following questions:
Where are you in the conflict phase? (Think back on Tuckman’s Stages of Group Development.)
What phase of group development are you in?
Are you encountering certain scenarios?
In asking these questions, you’ll better understand what typically happens in that type of situation. This better prepares you for dealing with it. A path will be revealed and you can determine a plan of action.
Conflict management is not only an important part of the business world, but it is also an inevitable part of it. With day to day human interactions, there will be disagreements that pop up. Conflicts themselves are not inherently bad. They’re a natural part of the human condition. The problem comes from the unhealthy ways in which conflicts are resolved (or not resolved at all). This is why we have conflict management strategies. Our world relies on human to human interactions. The business world, by that extent, is also reliant on these interactions. Refer to this guide whenever you need clarity on the subject.
About This Conflict Management Guide
This guide offers the most insightful articles, educational videos, expert insights, specialist tips and best free tutorials about conflict management from around the internet. The learning guide is split into four levels: introduction, basics, advanced and expert. You can learn at your own pace. Each item shows an estimated reading or watching time, allowing you to easily plan when you want to read or watch each item. Below you’ll find a table of contents that enables you to easily find a specific topic you might be interested in.
What is Conflict Management?
Strong conflict management skills are an advantage in most positions, as conflict is virtually impossible to avoid. It is human nature to disagree, and disagreements are in fact healthy when approached correctly. Eliminating conflict entirely would cause its own problems: there would be no diversity of opinion and no way for us to catch and correct flawed plans and policies.
Spotting Signs of Workplace Conflict
Conflict doesn’t just appear out of nowhere. There are always signs warning that a conflict is developing. Managers who know what these signs are can be more effective leaders by confronting the problem before it rages out of hand. By understanding conflict in the early stages, your organization will run much more smoothly and overall productivity levels will be increased considerably. What are these subtle signs of conflict to look for?
Causes of Conflict in the Workplace
It is important to understand the root cause of an individual’s or group’s unhappiness. For example, a person in a team may seem to be struggling with an unmanageable workload, but they may be resentful of another employee who appears to have less work to do. It may also be a result of organizational changes, restructuring, or promotions given to other staff.
The First-Half Of The Conflict Cycle
The psychic and monetary costs associated with resolving conflict in the first-half of the conflict cycle are dramatically less than the costs incurred in the second-half. Consequently, it is time that we begin to make a clear distinction between the first and second-half of the conflict cycle.
Types of Conflict
Conflict is an inevitable part of life. Each of us possesses our own opinions, ideas and sets of beliefs. We have our own ways of looking at things and we act according to what we think is proper. Hence, we often find ourselves in conflict in different scenarios; may it involve other individuals, groups of people, or a struggle within our own selves. Consequently, conflict influences our actions and decisions in one way or another.
Conflict Handling Styles
It’s rare to have a specific conflict management style that is generalized to every situation. Rather, humans judge each conflict and situation individually and decide the best way to handle it. Here are some ways to judge a conflict and choose an appropriate conflict management strategy.
Types of Reactions to Conflict
A certain amount of conflict is healthy and normal within a variety of relationships. Many things cause conflict, including differing values, ideas, perceptions, desires and experiences. Responses to conflict determine whether the disagreement leads to growth and development or causes pain and setbacks. Behavioral scientists Ralph Kilmann and Kenneth Thomas developed the Thomas-Kilmann Conflict Model, which identifies five different responses to conflict.
Benefits of Workplace Conflict
It helps to remember that conflict (including disagreement, difference of opinion, concern, complaint, friction, etc.) is not inherently good or bad. It is an inevitable result of human beings associating with each other in the world, in our families and in our workplaces. There are many articles and blog posts trumpeting the “benefits of conflict” but, on reflection, this phrase is much too simplistic. It is not the conflict that directly creates benefits, it is dealing with the conflict well. The key to unlocking the benefits of conflict is learning to engage effectively with conflict when it arises.
Ways to De-Escalate Workplace Conflict
Whether you’re directly involved in the conflict or not, it’s up to you, as a leader, to help mediate and reach a solution to the best of your abilities. With that in mind, here are four tips for the next time you find yourself in the midst of a conflict.
Managing Conflict, Tension and Anger
To be a safe and predictable person for those around you at work and at home, it is essential that you are able to maintain your composure when you feel like your buttons are being pushed. This strength will help you to achieve your goals in business as well as your goals for your personal relationships.
The Difference Between Constructive and Destructive Conflict
A brainstorming session full of confident, creative people is bound to get messy sometimes. Businesses should expect conflict, both internally on their own staffs, and externally with clients and partners. The goal is to create constructive conflict, rather than unraveling into personal attacks and passive aggression. Let’s explore the difference between constructive and destructive conflict.
How to Deal with Difficult People
When you’re dealing with a person behaving unreasonably, the fear response center in your brain (the fight-flight-freeze part) is going to be activated. This part of the brain can’t distinguish between a customer that’s yelling at you or a vicious dog about to attack you. It’s up to you to engage your conscious mind in order to defuse the situation. Some of these tips are general, suggesting a mindset to cultivate. Others are more specific in advising you what to do in the moment.
Types of Conflict in Business Negotiation
Conflict in business negotiation is common, but it doesn’t have to be that way. There are steps we can take to avoid certain types of conflict and misunderstandings. Often, it helps to analyze the unique causes of conflict in particular negotiation situations.
Negotiation Strategies for Conflict Resolution
When a dispute flares up and conflict resolution is required, the outcome can be sadly predictable: the conflict escalates, with each side blaming the other in increasingly strident terms. The dispute may end up in litigation, and the relationship may be forever damaged. The following three negotiation strategies for conflict resolution from the realm of business negotiation can help parties mend their partnership, avoid the expense of a lawsuit, and even create value.
How to Mediate and End Disagreements
Although conflict is a natural part of life, fighting can imperil our happiness at home, our effectiveness at work, and our overall sense of well-being. By acquiring skills to deescalate conflict and to resolve disputes amicably, you’ll be taking a proactive approach to building a better life for yourself and for those around you.
Conflict Resolution Intervention Strategies
That conflict exists is not the issue, but having an effective conflict resolution strategy to resolve that conflict if it begins to impact the business is crucial for any manager. While conflict can be a creative fuel that helps teams compete and work more productively, it can also easily blow up and bring everything to a dead stop.
Third-Party Conflict Resolution Strategies
The term third party is used to describe a person or group of people who intervene to help those involved in a dispute resolve their conflict. There are many roles a third party might have in a conflict situation. A third party might act as a facilitator to help organize and arrange meetings between the disputing parties, set agendas, guide productive discussions, and keep a recording of what is being discussed.
Conflict Resolution Skills
Conflict triggers strong emotions and can lead to hurt feelings, disappointment, and discomfort. When handled in an unhealthy manner, it can cause irreparable rifts, resentments, and break-ups. But when conflict is resolved in a healthy way, it increases your understanding of the other person, builds trust, and strengthens your relationships.
Conflict Resolution in Six Steps
Conflict is a part of life. Most of us will do almost anything to avoid it. However, having a simple step-by-step process for resolving your conflicts or issues with others is not only healthy but can strengthen your relationships with others and even yourself. Learn some simple, healthy and non-aggressive steps to resolve your issues with others and feel more empowered in your life and in your relationships.
Tips for Managing Conflict
Remember that conflict is natural and happens in every ongoing relationship. Since conflict is unavoidable we must learn to manage it. Conflict is a sign of a need for change and an opportunity for growth, new understanding, and improved communication. Conflict can not be resolved unless it is addressed with the appropriate individual(s).
Effective Conflict Resolution Tips for the Workplace
Conflict is a natural part of human group interactions. Expect it, understand it, and know how to manage it. When you know how to handle conflict in the workplace, you can create a team with unshakeable focus and emotional resilience.
Conflict Management Techniques
A conflict is a situation when the interests, needs, goals or values of involved parties interfere with one another. In the workplace, conflicts are common and inevitable. Different stakeholders may have different priorities; conflicts may involve team members, departments, projects, organization and client, boss and subordinate, organization needs vs. personal needs. Often, a conflict is a result of perception. Is conflict a bad thing? Not necessarily.
Why There’s So Much Conflict at Work
We usually think of conflict as something that happens between people, so when there’s conflict at work, we tend to blame the people involved, and expect them to straighten things out. But people are just the part of the story that’s easiest to see, according to Liz Kislik, a management consultant and business coach. She describes the underlying conditions that can lock people into unproductive conflict, and shares five steps to enable people in any kind of organization identify the underpinnings of a conflict and work through it effectively.
Further Reading: Best Conflict Management Books
Conflict Management: A Practical Guide to Developing Negotiation Strategies. This book explores how to develop critical negotiation skills using a very individual, personalized approach. It examines how personality and temperaments influence negotiation styles and techniques and provides numerous strategies proven effective with different personality types.
Crucial Conversations Tools for Talking When Stakes Are High, Second Edition. This book gives you the tools to: Prepare for high-stakes situations, Transform anger and hurt feelings into powerful dialogue, Make it safe to talk about almost anything, Be persuasive, not abrasive.
HBR Guide to Dealing with Conflict. The HBR Guide to Dealing with Conflict will give you the advice you need to: Understand the most common sources of conflict, Explore your options for addressing a disagreement, Recognize whether you―and your counterpart―typically seek or avoid conflict, Prepare for and engage in a difficult conversation, Manage your and your counterpart’s emotions, Develop a resolution together, Know when to walk away.
The Anatomy of Peace: Resolving the Heart of Conflict. Yusuf al-Falah, an Arab, and Avi Rozen, a Jew, each lost his father at the hands of the other’s ethnic cousins. The Anatomy of Peace is the story of how they came together, how they help warring parents and children come together, and how we too can find our way out of the personal, professional, and global conflicts that weigh us down, even when war is upon us.
Further Learning: Best Conflict Management Courses
Conflict Management: Turn Conflict into Collaboration. In this course, you’ll learn to strengthen your personal and professional relationships by constructively addressing conflicts between individuals and within organizations. You’ll build skills specifically aimed at managing intercultural conflicts in today’s global society, and you’ll explore how competing interests and goals, power imbalances, and other factors influence the nature of conflict and management strategies.
Complete Guide to Conflict Management in the Workplace. Develop an understanding of common sources of conflict and awareness of what signs to look for, so you can prevent or minimize conflict by catching it early. Find out your natural conflict management style—whether you withdraw, back down, compete, compromise, or truly collaborate and how to change your reactions to be more effective.
Mastering Conflict Management and Resolution at Work. In this course, you will: Look at some of your past conflicts to understand how you typically handle conflict (and whether it’s effective!), Gain valuable tools to handle any conflict immediately, Learn how to recover from conflict, and what to do after the conflict is over to repair a relationship. This course is designed to be actionable, fun, reflective, and thought-provoking.