Did you know that 85 percent of workers in a company experience conflict at some stage?
To be honest, conflict in an organization will exist, but it is avoidable if you know how to handle the situation competently. Resolving disputes between employees will require certain skills to promote healthy workplace relationships.
Managers need to develop expertise in conflict resolution skills to deal with disputes between individuals in an organization.
The blog will focus on the essential and necessary skills that a manager should focus on resolving conflicts.
8 Conflict Resolution Skills in The Workplace
If you lack the necessary conflict resolution skills, you are probably looking for some assistance regarding it. Here are eight essential skills that you need to resolve conflict in your organization.
Recommended Article: 6 Self-Management Skills Critical in the Workplace
The best way you can resolve a conflict is by communicating. A proactive communication strategy will help you understand the heart of the problem and develop a solution. It provides you with an opportunity to face the issue headfirst.
As a manager, prioritizing conflict resolution between your staff and monitoring the situation with good communication is a skill you need to hone. A good leader will always be a good communicator first.
To resolve any conflict in the workplace you must ensure that you are able to express yourself in a clear and concise way. Without these said skills, your efforts to resolve the conflict might take a different turn than expected. 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 the parties. Understand where the dispute took place, talk with them, and start with a friendly conversation. Once a root cause is identified, you resolve the situation and 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 the time of 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. To handle a conflict in a mature way, your emotional intelligence will prove to be crucial.
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 about the situation to manage it efficiently. One of the key components of emotional intelligence is self regulation that helps you act in control and take calculated decisions without getting carried away. Self regulation helps you gain perspective by hearing both the parties and helps them make amicable settlement.
As a manager, if you believe in taking sides during disputes, that would be a major roadblock to resolving them.
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. Being honest and equal with everyone within the team will help you elevate the group’s dynamics, and it will create a work environment where employees will love to work. People trust and follow a leader who leads in a fair and inclusive manner. Being fair signifies that you’ll prioritize the truth over everything else. Not only will it be an honorable thing to do but will also inspire loyalty among your people.
Few tips on how you can become a better and fair leader -
- Be mindful.
- Do not bring up past disagreements.
- Talk about the behavior and not about the person.
Example: Fred and Ryan belong to the same team. They argue on a task assigned to both of them. Ryan and Fred’s approaches to complete the task differ which results in a conflict. As a fair manager, it is upon you to not 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.
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 person's situation. But how does it resonate with conflict resolution skills? Well, it does.
Ask yourself this question, why is the conflict happening frequently 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 right questions that will help them be open with their feelings. 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 conflicts as soon as possible.
Example: Amelie has a hard time to gel 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 among 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 problems and all the team issues.
Learn More: Empathy in the Workplace
Observational skills can do wonders in elevating team performance and resolving conflicts in the workplace. Paying attention to any team agitations and willing to take prompt action beforehand can reduce the chances of a serious dispute.
To enhance your observational skills lookout for these signs that can raise the chances of a conflict-
The Tone of Voice- During any team discussion, notice the team members’ tone of voice. If they are agitated or louder than usual, then there might be chances that a conflict will happen.
Facial Expressions- Keep an eye on facial expressions like raised eyebrows, grimacing, or lack of eye contact, which are clear signs of a 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 going on among the team members.
Thus, a manager has to understand how observational skills is pivotal in handling conflicts.
Example: Imagine a scenario where your employees are hardly connecting, which limits the team’s workflow and efficiency. Observe how they are reluctant to communicate, which indicates there is a severe problem between them. Act on it and conduct a team meeting to sort out the issues faced by each member of the team. Once you get to the root of the problem, devise the necessary solutions, and implement them to maintain a healthy team relationship.
6. Active Listening
Active listening is the skill to fully concentrate on what is being said rather than passively hearing what the speaker is saying. 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 lack. 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 experiences.
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 between them, leading to a dispute. As a mediator, you should have the ability to understand where their concerns are coming from 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 time of 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 such 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; during a tense situation, it might be challenging to develop questions that can ease the 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.
Hey, you made it till here. We guess you are patient enough to last this long till the end. Well, jokes apart. 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 worse. Instead, try to remain calm, patient, 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.
Example: Suppose team members are in a heated argument with each other during an intense period of a project. Some team members are quickly trying to resolve all the issues while others are refusing to cooperate. This creates a major dispute between them.
So, as a manager what is the best course of action you can take? The best 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 with them regarding the issue then the situation might become worse. 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 the positive outcome while resolving any disputes in the organization. If you have any more suggestions then comment them below.