8 Conflict Resolution Skills That You Need at Work
Did you know that 85 percent of workers in a company experience conflict at some stage?
If we go by this number, it is a concerning situation for every professional leader. The main reason is that it can affect the work culture. But the thing here is that conflict in an organization will be prevalent; however, it is avoidable. One should know how to handle it with the right conflict resolution skills.
Leaders need to develop expertise in this area with the right approach and deal with conflicts professionally. But most importantly, they need to have leadership qualities that will make things easier.
The blog will focus on the essential skills that a manager should focus on to resolve conflicts and create a positive work environment.
8 Conflict Resolution Skills in The Workplace
It's okay not to have the right conflict resolution skills, but there is always a scope to learn them. And if you need the appropriate skills, then here are a few of them that will help you kickstart your effort.
Recommended Article: 6 Self-Management Skills Critical in the Workplace
1. Always Communicate!
If you are not good at initiating a conversation with your employees, it is high time you work on it.
Communicating with your team members is the best way to avoid and resolve any conflict. When you proactively communicate with your workforce, it helps you understand the heart of the problem. A quick grasp of the issue helps develop a solution and gives you the confidence to face it headfirst.
As a manager, prioritize conflict resolution between your staff with good communication channels. Be friendly with your approach, and do not keep any bias. Always be the neutral mediator and understand the perspective of the parties involved. A good leader is always a good communicator first. To resolve any conflict in the workplace, you must ensure that you can express yourself clearly and concisely. Without these said skills, your efforts to resolve the dispute might not be fruitful. Your message will be misinterpreted, and the conflict may worsen further.
Example: Suppose a major dispute broke between two team members regarding a project. What will you do in such a situation? The obvious solution will be transparent communication between you, as a manager, and both parties. Understand where the dispute took place, talk with them, and start with a friendly conversation. Once the root cause is identified, you work on the solutions available to you and have a strategic approach that will help maintain peace between both parties.
Read more: The Importance of Office Communication
2. Emotional Intelligence
Emotional intelligence is the ability to identify, manage, and understand our own emotions and the people around us.
But how does it play a role in conflict resolution? During a conflict, identifying and understanding your employees' emotional turmoil is very much crucial. You do not want the situation to go from bad to worse, and your emotional intelligence will be essential while handling a conflict.
Example: Imagine a situation where your employees or team members have a heated argument over a presentation. How would you handle this situation? In such a case, you need to be aware of the problem to manage it efficiently. One of the key components of emotional intelligence is self-regulation which helps you act in control and make calculated decisions without getting carried away. Self-regulation enables you to gain perspective by hearing both parties and making an amicable settlement.
3. Fairness (Cause Balance is important)
As a manager, if you believe in speaking for a particular party during disputes, that would be a major roadblock. Instead of resolving the matter at hand, it will worsen the situation.
So, what would be the ideal solution to that? The answer is quite simple. Ditch the bias and work on being fair. It is one of the essential leadership skills and qualities of a good manager.
A fair leader can resolve any dispute in diplomatic terms. Be honest and treat everyone involved in the conflict equally. This will help you elevate the dynamics of the team and create a balanced work environment. People trust and follow a leader who leads fairly and inclusively. Being fair signifies that you'll prioritize the truth over everything else. It will be an honorable thing to do and inspire loyalty among your people.
Here are a few tips on how you can become a better and fair leader -
Do not bring up past disagreements.
Talk about the behavior and not about the person.
Listen as much as you can.
Do not drive a narrative.
Example: Fred and Ryan belong to the same team. They argue about a task assigned to both of them. Ryan and Fred's approaches to completing the task differ, which results in a conflict. As a fair manager, it is upon you not to take any sides and give them the right perspective without hurting their egos. You might ask them to try both ways of achieving the task and let them assess the results. In this way, you will be able to resolve their tension and remain fair.
4. Empathy (It comes with no Cost!)
In the Cambridge dictionary’s definition, empathy is the ability to share someone else's feelings or experiences by imagining what it would be like to be in that situation. But how does it resonate with conflict resolution skills? Well, it does.
Ask yourself this question: Why is there a frequent occurrence of conflict between team members? And why is the same person getting into disputes with others?
Try to understand what the individual is personally going through to get to the root of the issue. Ask them the appropriate questions that will help them self-evaluate their behavior. And also, try to see things from their perspective to get a better grasp of the situation. It will help you broaden your vision and see things differently to resolve the conflict as soon as possible.
Example: Amelie has a hard time gelling in with her team members as she is continuously missing out on her deadlines, and the team is not able to meet their expectations. It has now resulted in a dispute between Amelie and the team members. As a manager, you must have a one-on-one conversation with her and understand her current situation. Show concern and empathy so that she can openly address her problems. Once you get to the root, try to develop a solution to resolve her issues. Moreover, ask your team members to resonate with her situation as well. Afterall, teams that understand each other have a greater bonding and efficiency in the workplace.
Learn More: Empathy in the Workplace
5. Good Observational "Eye"
Observational skills can do wonders in elevating team performance and resolving conflicts in the workplace. Paying attention to any team agitations and being willing to take prompt action beforehand will enhance your ability to manage conflict.
To enhance your observational skills, look out for these signs that can raise the chances of a conflict-
The Tone of Voice- Notice the team members' tone of voice during any team discussion. If they are agitated or louder than usual, there might be chances of a conflict.
Facial Expressions- Keep an eye on facial expressions like raised eyebrows, grimacing, or lack of eye contact, which are clear signs of conflict among team members.
Avoidance in Team Members- Observe how team members are communicating, and if you sense a feeling of discord between them, then there might be a cold conflict among the team members.
Minimal Support between Team Members- One of the prominent signs of a cold conflict is that team members do not show support or encourage each other. There is no team unity, and the frequency of gossiping increases. Keep these things in mind and observe the situation well.
Thus, a manager must understand how observational skills are pivotal in handling conflicts.
Example: Imagine a scenario where your employees are hardly connecting, limiting the team's workflow and efficiency. Observe how they are reluctant to communicate, indicating a severe problem between them. Act on it and conduct a team meeting to sort out the issues faced by each team member. Once you get to the root of the problem, devise the necessary solutions, and implement them to maintain a smooth team relationship.
6. Actively Listening (Always!)
Active listening is the skill of fully concentrating on what is being said rather than passively hearing what the speaker says. It means that you respect the speakers' time and keep a non-judgmental attitude towards them.
It is one of the most critical communication skills that many lacks. When you are conscious enough to improve your listening skills, you create room for mutual understanding and respect in the workplace. Like any other skill, active listening takes time to develop and eventually gets better with experience.
It is all about the value you give to the opinions of others and the willingness to increase team cohesion.
Example: Relate it with a situation where two of your colleagues are having a debate over a work-related problem. As both parties delve into the issue's details, the tension rises, leading to a dispute. As a mediator, you should have the ability to understand concerns and listen to their respective viewpoints without judging, with patience, and in an unbiased way.
7. Asking the Right Questions
Asking the ideal questions during a conflict is crucial as it provides the perfect opportunity for a manager to assess the situation. Be mindful of what you will ask, as it will significantly influence how someone feels and responds.
Frame your questions in a way that the person feels comfortable and connected with them. It will allow them to answer the questions correctly and provide the necessary information which you will require to resolve the conflict.
We get it; it might be challenging to develop questions that can ease the situation during a tense situation. This is why you, as a mediator, need to have the right temperament and leadership qualities to deal with it. Furthermore, to help you out, here are a set of questions that you can use if a conflict arises-
We know these are trying times, but can you tell us what makes you feel so frustrated?
What is the reason behind the emotional situation that you are in right now?
We are here to help you whenever you need us, but we have to understand what makes you feel stressed in the organization?
These are a few examples of how you can frame a question; however, it will depend on the situation and the persons involved in the conflict.
8. Patience Is Everything
Hey, you made it till here. We guess you are patient enough to read the article till the end. Well, jokes apart.
As you know, patience is a skill that develops with time and is the key to resolving conflicts in an organization.
When dealing with a conflict, emotions run quite high, and becoming impatient will make things more destructive. Instead, try to remain calm, have patience, and assess the whole situation. A composed mind will allow you to evaluate the situation and make a decision swiftly. Take some time off and come up with a decision in the cooling-off period.
Dealing with a conflict is not an easy task, and we get that. It can be frustrating at times, and someday it can be emotionally draining. But the crucial factor here is your ability to handle it while having the necessary patience. Develop patience with proper coaching or any other means that you feel will help you with it.
We recommend you develop this particular skill to build a calm mind and handle different types of conflict with ease.
Example: Suppose team members are in a heated argument during an intense period of a project. Some team members are quickly trying to resolve all the issues, while others refuse to cooperate. This creates a major dispute between them. So, as a manager, what is the best course of action you can take? The solution will be to remain calm and composed and ask the team members to take some time off the project and re-evaluate the situation. If you indulge in another heated argument regarding the issue, the problem might worsen. Patiently deal with the circumstances, and you will have the perfect answer to resolving the conflict.
Take your time in building up the conflict resolution skills and you will see a positive outcome while resolving any disputes in the organization. If you have any more suggestions then do contact us and we would love them to include in the list.