Conflict isn’t always a bad thing. It’s simply an alarm that alerts you to a situation that needs addressing in order for professionals to enjoy a healthier work environment. In fact, when you approach conflict with the intention to negotiate an equitable solution, you can achieve greater understanding and perhaps find a resolution that improves work relations overall.But in order to find that equitable solution you need to know how to resolve conflict, especially if you manage a considerable support staff. Here are 10 steps that will help you do that:
1. Don’t ignore the conflict.
There are some problems that must sort themselves out. But when conflict is responsible for tension in the workplace, either among employees or with a client, you need to step forward and apply the following steps in order to peaceably resolve the situation.
2. Gather all parties for a discussion.
It helps to have everyone present to voice their perspectives. When you isolate parties and have them present their views individually, you add an extra, unnecessary step to the process that does little more than allow parties to vent in attempts to bias the listener.
3. Recognize that the conflict should not pit individuals against one another; it should pit individuals against the problem.
The biggest problem in workplace conflict is that people begin to see themselves in conflict with coworkers or clients rather than problems. When professionals realize that they can join forces to resolve their common problems, it becomes easier to work through conflict.
4. Determine exactly what the conflict is.
What, exactly, is the problem? Often people are stewing over different issues without even realizing it. When you’re able to pinpoint all the issues and articulate why they’re problematic, you have a starting point from which to find equitable solutions.
5. Identify shared concerns.
Your discussion will have a friendlier tone when you attempt to find shared ground—what do you agree on? While parties may not see eye-to-eye on some issues, they should be able to find common concerns. If all else fails, you should attempt to agree on the importance of resolving the conflict.
6. Distinguish facts from opinions.
Once the individuals have shared their opinions, it’s time to note the facts. It’s important to realize that fact and opinion are two separate things. In fact, this step alone might clarify the problem for both parties and enable them to gain necessary perspective as they realize that perhaps the problem wasn’t what they had initially imagined.
7. Listen actively.
This is probably one of the most important steps in conflict resolution. Everyone has their opinions, but in order for conflict resolution to be successful, coworkers must stop arguing and taking sides; everyone needs to listen actively.
8. Be willing to compromise.
There’s a reason this step follows the last. You cannot compromise unless you have listened to all sides and considered countless options. To reach this point, individuals must be willing to release their desires to achieve their outcomes.
9. Brainstorm solutions.
There may be solutions that no one has considered. In order to achieve a resolution that all parties feel comfortable with, everyone involved must brainstorms possible solutions. You may be surprised at the satisfactory resolutions you encounter when coworkers work together to create them.
10. Select the one the best suits everyone’s needs.
Select the one that best resolves this conflict for all involved.
The truth is, this is not necessarily a linear process. You may need to return to previous steps in order to get back on track. Regardless of how long the process takes, the better prepared you are to deal with conflict, the more likely you’ll be to facilitate a satisfactory resolution.
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