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Monday, December 10, 2012

Resolving conflict at work

Picture 1: Conflict at work

YOU can't win a conflict at work. Winning a conflict means getting the outcome `you' want regardless of what the `other' person wants. Since the underlying issue has not been solved, it will simply reappear later.

Much better than winning a conflict at work is resolving it. Unresolved conflicts make people unhappy at work and can result in antagonism, break-down in communications, inefficient teams, stress, and low productivity.

Here are essential steps to constructively resolve conflicts at work.

* Realize that some conflicts are inevitable at work. Whenever people are committed and fired up, or change, and new ideas are emerging, conflicts and disagreements are bound to happen. This doesn't mean you have to revel in conflict or create trouble just because it happens, but it means when conflict happens; it is not the end of the world. It can be the beginning of an interesting learning process. Conflicts mean that people care enough to disagree strongly. The trick is not to allow the conflict to go on forever.

* Handle conflicts sooner rather than later. Resolve a conflict when it starts, as it only gets worse with time. Conflicts at work arise not from something that was said, but from something that wasn't said! Everyone's waiting for the other to admit he is wrong, and gets more unpleasant after the conflict has stewed for a while. It is essential to interrupt the "waiting game" before it gets to that point.

* Ask nicely. If somebody has done something that made you angry, or if you don't understand their viewpoint or actions, simply asking about it can make a world of difference. Never assume that people do what they do to annoy or spite you. Sometimes there is good reason why that person does what he or she does (even the things that really get on your nerves), and a potential conflict evaporates right there. Make your inquiry just that - an inquiry, not an accusation of any sort: "I was wondering why you did `X' yesterday" or "I've noticed that you often do `Y'. Why is that?," are good examples. "Why do you always have to do `Z'!" is less constructive.

* Invite the other person to talk about the situation. A hurried conversation at your desk between e-mails and phone calls won't solve anything. You need an undisturbed location and time to address the issue.

Observe. Identify what you see in neutral, objective terms. This is where you describe the facts of the situation as objectively as possible. What is actually happening? When and how is it happening? What is the other person doing, and not least, what are you doing? You are only allowed to cite observable facts and not allowed to assume or guess at what the other person is thinking or doing. You can say, "I have noticed that you are always criticizing me at our meetings" because that is a verifiable fact. You can't say, "I have noticed that you have stopped respecting my ideas" because that assumes something about the other person.

* Apologies. Apologise for your part in the conflict. Usually everyone involved has done something to create and sustain the conflict. Remember: You are not accepting the entire blame, you are taking responsibility for your contribution to the situation.

* Appreciate. Praise the other part in the conflict. Tell them why it is worth it to you to solve the conflict. This can be difficult as few people find it easy to praise and appreciate a person they disagree strongly with, but it is a great way to move forward.

Compiled by 1Klassifieds team
Credit to NSTP

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