Family Business HR July 9, 2014

10 Tips That Will Make You Better at Conflict Resolution


When conflict arises in the workplace, the worst thing that you can do is to ignore it. It may start with two capable people in disagreement over little issues, but it can soon build and disturb the entire workforce.

Many business leaders who have left these issues to stew or resolve on their own have found that they end up watching some of their best talent walk out of the door in search of a healthier and safer work environment.

Developing an effective conflict resolution skill set is essential to building a successful business model. Good conflict resolution will ensure that your workforce can continue to be productive and will diminish the likely barriers to cooperation and collaboration.

If conflict is so destructive, why do so many business leaders shirk away from dealing with it?

Simply put, it can make some people uncomfortable.

Normally this is because they don’t have the correct processes in place to make this an opportunity building exercise rather than a personal one.

Have you ever witnessed otherwise excellent and capable human beings self-destruct because they could not confront their issues?

Well, we don’t want that to happen. So we’ve put together a short list of conflict resolution tips to make the process less uncomfortable.

Remember conflict resolution isn’t something you can learn overnight; it takes time, practice, lots of patience and reflection.  

10 Conflict Resolution Tips

  1. Give it Time
    Make the decision to pause and reflect and do not go into a discussion about things when emotions are still high. This will stop each party from making silly mistakes or saying things that they do not mean.

  2. What is the Best Outcome?
    Decide what the goal is and stick to it. Don’t get side-lined by emotional outbursts.

  3. Focus on the Problem
    Try to discover the heart of the issue, not the people. Do not allow for a blame culture. If you can try to define the issue then you can resolve it.

  4. Keep an Open Mind
    Ensure that you are not focused on being right- keep an open mind. Both parties have valid points, be careful with making this a one sided affair - you can learn something of value.
  1. Listen Quietly
    Do not speak when the other person is talking. It can be tempting to step in and talk about a point but just let the other person finish. Ensure that you address the points that make a difference.

  2. Don’t Jump to Conclusions
    Ensure that you have all the facts in front of you before you take any other action.

  3. Bring in a Mediator
    Sometimes it is helpful to use a third party, someone who is not involved with the complexities involved may be able to provide perspective for both parties. (That person may be you if you are mediating an issue between staff members).

  4. Be Human
    Being open and honest and laying yourself bare is one of the most difficult things to do. However letting the other party understand the human and personal reasons and implications behind things may help them to understand the other point of view.

  5. Don’t Act Straight Away
    Sometimes it can be better to give some more time to ensure that actions can be taken once the issues have had some more time to cool down.

  6. Be Polite
    Do try to be as polite as possible in the situation, if you are polite it will force the other party to communicate in the same way.

Keep in mind that your ability to navigate conflict is one of the primary ways that you reveal your character as a leader. If you can manage this process effectively it will be one of the things that will ensure that the levels of safety and trust in your organisation will continue to grow and flourish.

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