Conflict Management – forming an Agreement

Who do you know who has never had a difficult conversation with someone? No one?

That’s not surprising. Whether it’s a discipline interview, dealing with an employee with personal crisis or helping a wayward employee get back on the rails, handling the ‘tough stuff’ well takes care and skill.

It is like playing the harp; there is as much in laying the hand on the strings to stop their vibrations as in twanging them to bring out their music.

Sometimes, holding our tongue is the greatest skill of all. When we do speak, we need to be careful of the words we let out of our mouths because once they’re gone, we can’t get them back. The tougher the situation, the more this holds true.

Things don’t always go smoothly. Some conflicts, of course, are minor irritations that we can quickly and easily forget. Others are more serious and can do lasting damage if we don’t manage them well.

When a conflict or a difference of opinion, priorities or perspectives arises in the workplace, we need to take special care to keep the communication flowing. Just as a ball rolling down a hill gathers momentum, so doe’s conflict. Ignoring it or sweeping it under the carpet leaves it unaired and unresolved, to intensify and worsen.

As a matter of fact, conflict and differences of opinion are natural and healthy. If you recognize conflict and deal with it openly and honestly, you won’t end up with hard feelings, bruised egos or lingering hostilities. The time, energy and patience you invest in finding a solution that everyone can live with will be well spent.

One successful conflict management skill is to turn the conflict into an agreement. Here are some questions in mind when dealing with conflict:

• How can we move towards the same side?
• How can we reach a joint understanding?
• How can we prevent problems or misunderstandings from occurring again?

Once you have pondered over the above questions, and you have decided to work towards agreement, here are four steps that may assist you in achieving a collaborative solution:

1. Open the discussion – have a short framing statement
2. Give good information – State your point of view clearly and concisely using “I” Statements
3. Gather good information – Listen and understand the other person’s point of view – remember empathy
4. Problem solve – use a problem solving approach – look for a good workable solutions and implementation strategies

Follow the steps above  to help you through conflict. Once you have a structure in please it is easy to make decisions based on logic and not on emotion.

Cheers Lee

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