Since conflict is inevitable, developing skills for managing conflict is critical to success: both to you as a leader and for your team. Developing skills to manage and resolve conflict will help you get and stay "ahead of the game."
Maccoby and Studder are well known and identify steps for managing conflict, which are shown below.
If you haven't done so already, please review the Conflict Management Styles and assess your preferred style.
Often, It is easy to judge ourselves based on our intent, and others based on their actions or behaviors. Therefore, "testing" or talking with a trusted colleague about your self-assessment will help you get a more objective opinion to confirm your assessment.
The conflict management style we choose can depend upon the situation and the person(s) involved. For instance, when dealing with a person in authority we may be more cooperative and less assertive.
The video below offers four (4) tips for managing conflict.
To better understand your strengths and weaknesses in this area, it is important to understand the process for handling disagreements.
My natural personality is towards harmony and peace, which means I have a tendency to avoid conflict. Now, it is good to not intentionally create conflict, but avoiding conflict can be detrimental to healthy working relationships.
Maccoby and Studder identify these five steps:
Since conflict is inevitable when two or more parties come together, anticipate it so you won't be surprised when a difference of opinion occurs.
As you are anticipating conflict, prepare yourself with strategies for resolving it. Take into consideration the person with whom you will be dealing and the current state of your working relationship (is it positive or negative).
These Fair Fighting Ground Rules may prove helpful in identifying strategies to prevent/minimize unhealthy conflict.
Prevention is the best cure, but in reality all disagreements cannot be prevented.
But it is possilbe to prevent unhealthy conflict. So, focus on preventing conflict from "getting out of hand." The best way to do that is to acknowledge conflict as it surfaces.
(Please see Fair Fighting Ground Rules for more information.)
Identify conflict for what it is. Instead of ignoring the "elephant" in the room, acknowledge that a disagreement exists. Then proceed to idenitify the interests of the parties involved.
Managing in the midst of disagreements requires that you acknowledge the underlying reason(s) and emotions of the parties.
Maccoby and Studder assert that conflict is emotional. Although the various parties may believe the conflict is based on principle and reason, emotion is involved and should be acknowledged.
Resolving conflict takes time and skill. It requires that both parties work toward resolution. When conflict is not resolved, count on it surfacing again and possibly in a more aggressive manner.
I married late in life, so I was pretty set in my ways. (Smile.) Fortunately, my husband to be and I had the opportunity to enroll in premarital counseling. One very valuable book we received was The Seven Conflicts by Time and Joy Downs.
Learning and applying the information contained in this book helped me better handle conflicts at home, work and play.
- Tom Peters