A common pitfall is to put forward our own solutions when conflict situations arise. We think we can see a way forward, and we're itching to get our opinion across. But if a friend were short sighted, would we give them our glasses, or suggest they get some tailor-made to their own eyes?
The problem with putting forward our own solutions is that they derive from our unique view of the world, and don't necessarily match the needs of others. A better response is to invite a solution from the other. Ask the 'What?' question, so that you can move quickly from problems to solutions.
If Dave wants a shorter, more concise presentation and Sheila wants to be thorough, what would Dave suggest as a way forward so both needs are met?
If Peter is unable to give James a pay rise at the moment, what else could he do for James to make him feel more valued?
By inviting Dave to offer a solution, Sheila is much more likely to get him on her side. He'll feel a sense of collaboration, and of productive problem solving, as well as a greater commitment to what's proposed.
If Peter invites James to suggest a way forward, there's room for further negotiation. Both sides will end up with at least some of their needs met, and will be more satisfied with the outcome. Peter might not be able to offer James a pay rise now, but he could promise to review the situation in six months time. James could suggest that being given a new area of responsibility might make him feel more valued and appreciated in the shorter term.
Workplace conflicts come in many guises, and may often seem deeply entrenched. But with minor adjustments in the language used during conflict situations and willingness from one or both parties to understand and acknowledge each other's needs, the majority of disagreements can be resolved.