Ten Top Tips for Dealing with Conflict
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Ten Top Tips for Dealing with Conflict

When dealing with conflict to create a stable and supportive working environment it is important for your employees to be able to manage their emotions and act predictably for those around them. It is essential that they are able to maintain their composure when they feel like their ‘buttons’ are being pushed. Dealing with conflict and achieving this balance will help them to achieve their goals in the workplace. In addition, it will help you with your business goals.

There is lots of advice available on how to help your employees achieve this. What happens if it’s too late and a conflict situation has already arisen? Whether you’re a new manager and this is the first time you have to step in or whether you’ve been here before and feel as though you could have resolved the situation better, here are 10 top tips to help you: Mutual respect : Win-Win For successful conflict resolution, start with Mutual respect: Win – win situations will most likely be achieved when we respect ourselves and the other person.

When we respect ourselves, we naturally try to solve problems and we ensure the solution meets our own wants and needs. Respecting the other person will encourage us to make sure that the solution meets their wants and needs too, leading to win-win solutions. Look For The Common Ground Try to shift the situation from dealing with opponents to dealing with people on the same side. To do this Look for the common ground. In most cases, two conflicting parties will not have entirely opposing views. It is likely that their aims have something in common. Talk to them to try to identify this common ground. Try to find points of agreement or shared goals on which to build.

Redefine the problem by taking a different approach If you can’t find points of agreement or shared goals on which to build, try a different approach. Redefine the problem by looking at it from a different angle: When dealing with conflict, step back and see the dispute from the bigger picture, step in closer and see the details or ‘step to one side’ to view the situation from a different angle. The more you keep ‘moving around the problem’ to explore it, and view it from all angles and perspectives, the more likely you are to increase your understanding of it and find a solution. Find a goal that is acceptable to all parties – then work backwards With a win-lose situation is not healthy for your business or the individuals involved, so try to find a goal that is acceptable to all parties – then work backwards:

This may also help to take the heat out of the current situation as both parties focus on what outcome would be acceptable and helps to envisage what the end result would be. What is the end result both parties want? Aim for the win-win. Once the goals have been agreed, focus on them Once the goals have been agreed, focus on them. You need to focus on how to attain the goals both parties share to find paths around the problem.

Keeping the image of the satisfactory solution will keep a focus on this goal. Staying focused on the problem will not enable you to make progress or move on. Your next role might be to suggest workable options. Your next role might be to suggest workable options. There are probably several workable options, so don’t narrow your search looking for the one answer to the issue. The only decision here is ‘which will work best for us?’ As you have already agreed some clear goals and clear expectations, you should be able to assess your options and agree which best suits all parties.

To keep creating workable solutions, you need to keep an open mind If you are one of the parties involved in the conflict, being blinkered and considering limited options such as there is ‘only one possible solution – mine’, will mean that you are less likely to achieve that desired win-win. To keep creating workable solutions, you need to keep an open mind: The more open-minded you are when you explore a problem and search for alternative solutions, the more chances of finding a way out of conflict you create. A flexible approach allows you to hear views, other than your own, and to explore a variety of options.

Work hard at staying positive, not negative Easier said than done, you need to work hard at staying positive, not negative: As you might be feeling negative towards the situation, staying positive will require some effort. Shifting your thinking and your words from negative to positive might require some thought. You will find that the results are well worth the effort. Think, before you disagree. Instead, you could explain your position and sum up with a positive phrase. A phrase such as ‘And that’s why I look at it differently’. Or you could summarise your understanding of the other person’s views, then say ‘Here’s how I see it…’ Consider the setting for your attempts to resolve issues Small changes make a huge difference. It’s easier to argue with someone sitting opposite us and difficult to argue with someone sitting next to us.

So encourage an attitude of cooperation and allow for a collaborative mind-set by inviting parties to sit in appropriate places. This gives a feeling of you and I are working together on a shared problem. Sitting also helps with conflict resolution as body language can become aggressive and intimidating, or be interpreted that way, when we’re standing. Work together to solve the problem If all parties have had a part in planning actions to achieve agreed goals, then there’s a vested interest in trying to work this out. Regular sharing of information, pooling ideas, discussing needs and worries, increases understanding of other parties and can help to deal with situations regularly rather than storing them up, leaving you dealing with conflict.

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