You’ve had an altercation with your manager. You’re annoyed, but you’re going to get through the day squeaking “I’m fine” like Ross from FRIENDS- if this is how you plan to deal with conflict, then I assure you, it wouldn’t be too long before it escalates into an entire crisis.
Conflict management is tricky, but note this- not about just making nice – it is about coming to grips with what is wrong and setting it right.
What is Conflict Management?
To begin, what is a conflict? A conflict is a process when one group perceives differences and opposition between itself and another group about- interests, beliefs, resources, values, and practices that matter to them. (Adapted from Wall and Callister, 1995)
Conflict Management is simply the process that helps manage and reduce the negative impact of conflict and increase positives for all the parties involved in the process.
Sources of Conflict at Workplace
Incompatible goals: When two or more goals have similar deadlines or expectations, it can lead to miscommunication and discrimination, eventually leading to conflict.
Overlapping authority: Orders of opposing nature from people holding a similar position. This can lead to dissonance on who’s orders to follow or lead to ego clashes.
Task interdependence: A team working on the same task-based distribution is unclear or has a communication gap.
Scarce Resource: A primary reason for conflict is scarce resources and competition. When too many people are fighting for the same resource., it’s cut-throat competition, and essentially, it’s just conflict.
Power and Status: Power is seen as a determinant of how conflicts and negotiations unfold. Status, on the other hand, is the extent to which a person is respected and admired. Unfair and Unequal distribution of power can lead to the conflict to re-instate social justice.
Conflict Management Skills
Communication: Clear, crisp communication without any assumptions is the right way to help reduce any misunderstandings. The communication can be written (preferably) or verbal begins with airing the problem clearly in a neutral manner, open dialogue to both parties, active listening, and negotiating.
Here, it is essential to focus on the fact that the other party is not the enemy; the conflict is the true enemy.
Emotional Intelligence: Emotional Intelligence can go a long way in finding collaborative solutions to conflict situations. People high on emotional intelligence utilize emotions in tasks like decision-making and problem-solving. Thus, they are analytical, adaptable, respectful, and self-regulated.
This skill allows clear understanding and affects conflict management. High emotional intelligence also provides empathy, which is a key to feedback, compassion, and inclusivity.
Non-Verbal Communication: Not everyone is comfortable, heads-on during a conflict. These are the people who might typically lean towards avoiding or accommodating conflict management styles. Body language can tell you when someone is saying one thing but means another.
By being emotionally aware, you can notice when someone’s posture, gestures, or facial expressions differ from their words. People may say they are fine but avoid eye contact, or say they agree and close their fists, grit their teeth out of annoyance. So, if you read Ross’s non-verbal cues right, you’d know he is anything but ‘fine.’
Relationship> Conflict: To resolve most conflicts, we must understand we are here to resolve the conflict and not impede the relationship. A conflict is just a roadblock to an otherwise healthy relationship. It is important not to cling to a single viewpoint. A conflict is not an attack on you.
Thus, it’s crucial to consider the importance and regard of the relationship before or during the conflict to achieve a middle ground.
‘I’ before ‘you’: Conflict management is about resolving, not aggravating the issue at hand. Thus, pointing fingers, showing aggression, using cues like ‘you’ or ‘they’ can display assigning blame to the opposite party. ‘You’ sentences also aggravate the argument and put someone on the ‘defense.’
Conflict is not about what the other party is doing wrong. It’s about your belief in what’s right and communicating that to reach an understanding. Thus, instead of saying ‘You are “You are not listening” vs. “Can I get a chance to explain myself?”. ‘I sentences allow full accountability thus, they can be more effective.
It is important to understand that a conflict can quickly turn into a crisis. To avoid that and to address conflicts as soon as possible is important. EngageWith Pulse can help take a pulse of the organization’s stance on conflict management and perspective on the conflict in a fast, actionable, and effective way.
It allows you to summarize the organization’s, department, or a particular team’s perspective effectively. Thus, you’d have data on which aspects need high priority attention by the organization.
Manage Conflict Better with EngageWith
- Focuses on the cause of the conflict, individual employee’s perspective, responsibility, time spent on conflict, etc. Thus, it covers an overview of different aspects of conflicts at the fingertips, which can be worked on and explored.
- EngageWith can be used in pre-conflict training and post-conflict training program as well. This would help understand the effectiveness of the conflict training.
- As each question measures a specific metric, it can be used to track the metrics over a period of time– thus, monthly, quarterly, or semi-annually. As conflict management is often not covered under any performance review, mentor review, etc., it is almost always forgotten until it escalated into a crisis. EngageWith can help keep track of conflict management in every department of the organization, which can help increase the overall organizational climate and boost productivity. If the matter is resolved at the right time, it’s a definite win-win for all.
- EngageWith has the opinion of anonymity. Conflict management is often a sensitive topic and employees may feel comfortable with addressing the what rather than the who. Anonymity ensures the complete protection of the employee’s identity.
Conflict doesn’t have to be a scary eight-letter word. Addressing conflict is how we strengthen our relationships and express our expectations in relation to those of others.
How long will you wait until you invite EngageWith into your workplace? The earlier you do, the greater the benefits to individuals (including you), the team and the business.