The size of your business doesn’t matter; conflict is bound to occur any time people must work together. And these frays can really have a negative impact on normal business operations. The good news is that there are some conflict resolution strategies you can apply to reduce the tension and keep the conflict from reaching the point of no return.
Instead of allowing these arguments to disrupt business, try the following strategies to defuse the situation. These are just a few of the conflict resolution strategies you need to know about. Good management skills can help you prevent your staff from reacting instinctively to conflict and undermining the team.
1. Address the Issue Privately
Whether the conflict took place in person, on a call, or over an e-mail, you should address the conflict privately. If the conflict took place in a public setting, you might want to direct the parties involved to a quiet, empty room away from other employees. Addressing conflict privately gives your employees the ability to discuss their intentions and concerns in a neutral environment. Public confrontations, on the other, can make them feel defensive and prevent them from clearing the air. This policy also prevents the rest of the staff from feeling that they need to be involved or choose sides.
2. Sometimes Silence Is Golden
When it comes to conflict resolution strategies, sometimes keeping quiet is the best course of action. Words may become heated. You may be inclined to jump in with advice or try to resolve the issue as soon as there is a lull in the debate. That awkward silence makes everyone around uncomfortable.
However, your interference may add fuel to an already raging fire. Make sure that there really is a conflict before stepping in. Your employees may merely be expressing feelings of frustration or are especially passionate about the project.
If your employees are just blowing off steam and can resolve the conflict themselves, they’ll feel more satisfied with the outcome and any compromises required.
3. Determine Where to Deal with the Given Situation
One of the most effective conflict resolution strategies is choosing the right setting for dealing with the issue at hand. Depending on the people involved and the extent of the conflict, putting some distance between the parties may be in order.
Try a video conference call, as this allows them to discuss the situation while keeping difficult emotions under control. Perhaps the issue is more serious, and it needs to be dealt with offsite. Discussing the conflict over lunch in an entirely new setting can also offer some emotional breathing room.
Getting away from the scene of the battle gives the employees a cooling-off period. In this way, they can internally assess the severity of the debate. Or better yet, come to realize its trivial nature. This can open the doors to a meaningful conversation that provides resolution instead of escalating the situation.
4. Slow down the Reaction Process
Too many managers are quick to take action while the open wounds of the conflict are still sensitive. However, the very first step should be for the involved parties to take a deep breath and compose themselves.
Providing a cooling-off period before addressing the conflict will slow down the reaction process. This will give everyone involved a chance to focus on the cause of the conflict rather than their feelings about it. When everyone involved takes a step back, it can often be enough to allow the heat of the argument to pass.
It can also allow everyone a chance to devise ways to solve the conflict and come up with a real solution. However, don’t neglect its possible impact. Create procedures for conflict resolution strategies employees can access long before situations become heated.
5. The Closeout Conversation
Once the conflict has been addressed, close the issue by bringing the parties together to discuss events and make sure they’re satisfied with the outcome. Confronting the issue openly and identifying the cause of the conflict can reduce the likelihood of it happening again.
One of the more effective conflict resolution strategies is asking your employees how they should have handled the situation if they had a chance to do it differently. This helps them identify better ways of managing conflict in the future.
In the end, if both parties feel their concerns were addressed, and they’ve had the chance to voice their opinions, it will provide closure and allow them to move forward.
6. Acknowledge the Conflict
Unfortunately, there are cases where one of the employees may not feel as though you heard their concerns. They may not think that the conflict was resolved and may harbor negative feelings. Although everyone perceives conversations differently, make sure that you let them know you weren’t dismissing their concerns.
To avoid this, make sure you mirror their concerns after they express their feelings. This means repeating back what they’ve said when they talk about the issue and how they feel about it. In this way, they’ll understand that you have heard them, even if you don’t have an immediate solution for them.
This can also avoid misunderstandings, as well. Give each person the chance to correct you in case you misinterpreted anything they’ve said.
7. Open the Door to Future Communication
Perhaps the issue was addressed too quickly because there were more immediate concerns at the time. Don’t slam the door shut on the issue, allowing conflict to brew under the surface. Diffuse any future disputes by ensuring everyone involved knows they have the opportunity to revisit the issue if warranted.
If your employees feel that they have the chance to bend the ear of management in the future, it can prevent the conflict from exploding into an emotional and disruptive scene that makes everyone feel uncomfortable and makes it hard for everyone around to do their jobs.
Let your employees have their say with no interruptions, judgments, or recriminations. Assure them that your door is always open to their questions. Most importantly, an open-door policy will allow you a chance to look for solutions to the real problem before you need to fall back on conflict resolution strategies.
What Conflict Resolution Strategies Do You Use?
Have you had to deal with a conflict that was uncomfortable for all involved? Does your company defuse these conflicts in a way we haven’t discussed?
Let us know your thoughts on this matter. We would love to hear more conflict resolution strategies that can help maintain an atmosphere of community and collaboration in the workplace.