Well managed conflict is a sign of a healthy workplace – where differences are talked through, there is a high level of consultation and collaborative problem solving, and different points of view are taken into account. A conflict resilient workplace is proactive in building a culture of communication; responds quickly and appropriately when things do go wrong; and complies with relevant guidelines, rules, regulations, principles of natural justice and procedural fairness.
Causes of Conflict
If you find yourself in conflict with a colleague it is important to acknowledge all the contributing factors. Conflict often arises when people are under stress.
Costs of Unresolved Conflict
- Individual distress
- Mental and physical well-being
- Ongoing dissatisfaction
- Broken relationships
- Lost productivity and lost opportunities
- Declining trust and morale and increased disputation
- Strained organisational resources
- Difficulties with recruitment and retention
Getting clever about conflict means noticing common patterns and taking charge in constructive ways.
Difficult conversations are almost all made up of three conversations:
- The “What Happened’ conversation
- The ‘Feelings’ conversation
- The ‘Identity’ conversation
Avoiding the Blame Game
- Are you focused on who is right?
- Are you focused on what happened?
- Are you holding the other person wholly responsible?
- Do you find yourself trying to prove it?
- Are you certain about what the other person intended?
- Do you think they are the problem?
Then the conflict is managing you!
Try to see the conflict from a neutral person’s point of view:
Rule 1: Be genuine about listening to the other person’s perspective
Rule 2: Stop arguing (or thinking) about who is right
Rule 3: Don’t make assumptions about intentions
Rule 4: Don’t play the blame game
Rule 5: Acknowledge feelings
Rule 6: Be aware of how conflict affects people’s sense of identity
Rule 7: Focus on the problem, not the person.