Recommend Conflict Resolution: Simple But Not Easy (Blame Your …

Conflict resolution is, in theory, quite simple. Yet who among us hasn’t experienced times when our common sense flies out the window and even the most basic skills desert us. Those times demonstrate that conflict resolution may be simple, but is far from easy. Let’s see why.

Most approaches to collaborative conflict resolution incorporate a few common principles:

• Hear the other person out
• Ask them the reasons for their perspective
• Explain your perspective
• Explore ways to move forward

This seems pretty basic and logical, yet conflict often devolves into an argument (or is avoided at all costs for fear it will erupt.) Even conflict resolution professionals will sheepishly admit to “losing it” from time to time in the heat of the moment. A friend and colleague is an M.I.T. graduate and former aerospace engineer. He tells people “this conflict resolution stuff isn’t rocket science – it’s a lot harder.” What makes it so?

I blame our “gremlins” – imaginary, invisible beings who revel in causing mischief. In his simple, yet insightful book Taming Your Gremlin: A Guide to Enjoying Yourself, Richard Carson uses the term to represent the unhelpful inner voice – the “narrator in your head”. In applying Carson’s work to conflict, I’ve discovered specialized “conflict gremlins” that hinder us from resolving conflict effectively. They usually reflect our natural impulse to fight, flight or freeze. In fairness to our gremlins, they mean well and believe they are helping us survive. But the fight or flight impulse that serves to protect us from a physical threat will undermine our efforts to resolve interpersonal conflict.

A fight gremlin, for example, fuels our self-righteousness and urges us to protect ourselves by attacking the other person (or their harebrained ideas.) If you find yourself thinking “How dare they!” “What a jerk.” and “I don’t have to take this!” you are likely tuning in to your fight gremlin. Flight gremlins, on the other hand, reinforce our role as innocent (and helpless) victim, whose survival depends on avoiding the conflict. Thoughts like “Get me out of here!” or “Help – this isn’t safe.” earmark the flight gremlin. Even the impulse to freeze in the face of conflict stems from a basic survival impulse (“if I don’t move, maybe I’ll blend in with the woodwork and no one will notice me”.) While this may work for a deer in the woods, it hardly helps us resolve a conflict.

So what can you do with your gremlins? Firstly, acknowledge and accept them. Debating your gremlin simply empowers it and distracts you. You’ll be better off to reflect on when and why they appear. In the movie A Beautiful Mind the central character, John Nash, is asked whether he still sees his imaginary friends (symptomatic of his mental disorder.) He replies“No, they’re not gone. But I’ve gotten used to ignoring them and as a result I think they’ve given up on me.” This is sound advice for dealing with gremlins. Gremlins are so effective in sabotaging our conflicts because we don’t even recognize them. Here are a few things you can do to keep your gremlins from sabotaging you in conflict:

1. Know your triggers. We all experience certain behaviours, mannerisms or words that anger us and dim our capacity to reason. Being aware of your triggers allows you to depersonalize those attacks, maintain your cool, and deal with these behaviours constructively.

2. Remember to breathe. As elementary as this sounds, the tension that accompanies conflict often constricts our breathing at a time we most need to relax and centre ourselves. Even taking one or two deep breaths will buy some time to assess the situation and avoid knee-jerk reactions. (And while you’re breathing in, you won’t be talking!)

3. Develop an inner coach to remind you what you know in theory, but forget in the moment. You inner coach might remind you to “breathe”, reassure you that “this isn’t life-threatening” or encourage you to “slow down”. You can create an inner coach by asking yourself what you would most want to remember in the heat of a potential conflict. I’ve found the mantra “stay curious” has proven invaluable over the years, both personally and professionally.

Skills and knowledge are necessary to resolve conflict, but will be useless unless we remember to employ them. So next time you find yourself in conflict watch for your gremlin. When it appears, acknowledge it, thank it for its input, but trust your inner coach instead. You will be pleasantly surprised at how “simple” things will seem and how effective you will be.

Gary Harper is the author of The Joy of Conflict Resolution: Transforming Victims, Villains and Heroes in the Workplace and at Home. For “Tips on Probing” and other information on conflict resolution, visit Gary’s website at http://www.joyofconflict.com/

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Ethical Conflict Resolution

Conflicts are inevitable, but the more we know about human nature, the more positive the outcome of a conflict might be for both parties. We know that different people have different priorities and different ways of dealing with situations that may occur, but in general, human beings have certain characteristics that are very similar – even across gender, racial, and socio-economic lines.

· People love to be agreed with.
· People hate to be disagreed with.
· People like other people who agree with them.
· People dislike other people who disagree with them.
· People who are good at resolving conflicts look for some point of agreement and use good people skills to get others to see a different point of view.

So if we know that when we disagree with people, we are likely to raise resentment, it might be a good idea to strengthen our soft-skills – our people skills – when dealing with conflicts or potential conflicts. If we find ourselves in a tense situation, and we raise our voice, the other party is likely to respond in kind. This will usually escalate the situation quickly. Instead, below are SEVEN tips for avoiding and ultimately resolving conflicts.

1. Be proactive instead of reactive. Good plans shape good decisions. That’s why good planning helps to make elusive dreams come true. –Lester R. Bittel

2. Be slow to anger—especially over petty issues. Anger is always more harmful than the insult that caused it. –Chinese Proverb

3. Instead of telling people they are wrong, point out mistakes indirectly. A person convinced against his will is of the same opinion still. –Samuel Butler

4. Look for some type of common ground as soon as possible. A compromise is the art of dividing a cake in such a way that everyone believes he has the biggest piece. -Ludwig Erhard

5. If you find that you are in the wrong, admit it. It’s easier to eat crow while it is still warm. –Dan Heist

6. Admit one of your own poor decisions before pointing out a similar error by others. A man should never be ashamed to own he has been in the wrong, which is but saying… that he is wiser today than he was yesterday. -Alexander Pope, from Miscellanies by Jonathan Swift

7. Mend fences whenever possible. Never does the human soul appear so strong as when it forgoes revenge, and dares forgive an injury. -E.H. Chapin

Doug Staneart is President of DM Staneart and Associates, http://www.buildingyourteam.com, leadership and team-building training. He can be reached by e-mail at doug@buildingyourteam.com or toll-free at 1-800-872-7830 x-100.

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Ethical Conflict Resolution

Workplace Conflict Resolution: Whats Creating Workplace Conflict …

A radio interviewer recently asked me if I thought there was more conflict in the workplace today than in the past. After thinking about it, I replied, “Yes, I think there is more conflict today.”

Here Are 3 Main Reasons Why There Is More Conflict In The Workplace Today Than In The Past:

1. Today’s workplace is much more egalitarian. We have flatter chains of command, dotted line relationships, and primarily knowledge workers who are capable of making decisions themselves and have the freedom to move on to another job if they don’t like the way they are being treated.

In prior years, the workplace consisted of a clear authoritarian structure and chain of command. Workers obeyed orders, kept their gripes and personal issues to themselves, and did their work. If they failed to perform effectively, they were immediately fired and replaced.

2. Today, people of all ages from all over the world have come to work together. They have different values, goals, behavioral expectations and prior experiences. Yet they are expected to work together without really understanding why all the misunderstandings between them occur.

3. Women are now in the workplace in equal numbers to their male counterparts. Generally speaking, women are much less accustomed to following a chain of command than men. Most men grow up participating in organized sports where they are taught how to obey. Although some women are now active in sports, many more grow up playing creative games that didn’t have any particular organization or chain of command. In games like house, girls take turns in varying roles.

Although we’ve come a long way towards understanding each other and working harmoniously together in the workplace, there are still behavioral differences in teasing, flirting, confronting, aggression and simple communication styles.

Solutions To Conflicts In The Workplace

Clearly, these workplace issues are here to stay. How can we handle them? How can we change certain elements? Here are some of my ideas:

Dealing with Different People in the Workplace

Your organization is going to continue to have people of all genders, ages, cultures, styles and expectations working together. You need to provide them with:

• A common culture with clearly defined behavioral expectations. This includes policy, procedures, statements of corporate values and culture – and the follow through to hold people accountable.

• Diversity training that teaches how to manage different people as well as how to get them to cooperate at meetings and other group forums. Your organization needs to delve into training. Trainers need to understand cognitive and communication styles, values around politeness and dealing with superiors, as well as issues of pride, humility, conformity and all the other differences that cause conflicts in the workplace.

• Acceptance and recognition of the differences, so your organization doesn’t try to have a “one size fits all” method of managing.

• More attempts to help each other clear up disagreements and misunderstandings – rather than passing judgment and deciding who is right and who is wrong.

Management Style and Hours Worked

When management creates a clear set of guidelines as to work expectations and measures success rather than time spent, it will be easier for people to know what to do because the parameters are clear. Here’s what your organization can do to avoid conflicts in the workplace related to management styles:

• Publish policy, procedures, values, expectations, and guidelines. Since there no longer is a supervisor with a whip looking over each worker’s shoulder, it is these documents that guide your employees’ behaviors.

• Managers need to learn how to correctly manage different individuals to enable each person to be successful. Some people need more instruction and others need to be left alone to create. Some are more trustworthy than others and can be relied upon to know their own limits and decision-making authority. Others need to be managed more tightly.

• The quality and the quantity of the work should be rewarded, not time. Managers need to stop the subtle and not-so-subtle remarks about not seeing a worker on a Saturday or early in the morning.

• Employees need to have flexible time whenever possible. Some jobs require attendance at set hours. Most do not. People with young children at home might want to go home for a few hours in the late afternoon and return either to work, or to their home computer after their children have been put to bed.

• Recognize that less is often more. If people get to relax, have a family life, recreation, and pleasure, they are almost always more productive and creative during their working time.

Although conflict is here to stay, it certainly can be mitigated by taking the needs and differences of people seriously and by teaching them about each other and how to work together. Stop being afraid and start being kind.

With 30+ years experience in specializing in people and processes in the workplace, Organizational Development and Human Resource Consultant, ArLyne Diamond, Ph.D can teach your management team how to manage your organization effectively and efficiently. For more free tips that will help your organization increase its productivity by cutting the number of conflicts in the workplace in half go to: http://www.diamondassociates.net/articles

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Group Communication and Conflict Resolution

As DeChurch and Marks state, “the manner in which groups handle emergent conflict may play a critical role in whether or not the conflict situation has a positive or negative impact on group outcomes”. The way a group communicates during conflict can mitigate conflict before it occurs or once it has occurred.

DeChurch and Marks identify positive and negative communication forces which affect the outcome of the conflict. The positive forces include; accommodating, compromising and collaborating. The negative forces include; avoiding and competing. Avoidance has the greatest negative influence on outcomes, followed by competing. If individuals avoid the debate and discussion which accompany conflict the team never can generate the best ideas to solve the issues, decreasing possible improvements. Competing in order to influence others can improve outcomes but damage relationships. The best possible outcome would be a combination of competition and collaboration, resulting in the sharing of creative ideas while maintaining and even enhancing the relationships of the team, which in turn can improve outcomes even further.

Knowing this, all team members must avoid avoidance and be willing to voice opinions, realizing that healthy debate will improve outcomes. Secondly, members should show willingness to compromise and collaborate in order to maintain the overall wellness of the team.

This of course is easier said than done. An effective communication method I have found useful to decrease avoidance and improve collaboration is to conduct a facilitative brainstorming session. Ground rules need to be set in advance in order to find the best method to ensure all members generate and defend ideas. Agreement should also be reached in advance on the process for selecting and implementing the best ideas. This method increases participation while enhancing collaboration.

James Gehrke is the President of Magnify Leadership and Development.

After various promotions in Sales, Sales Operations, Training & Development, and Sales Management and Training, he headed Pfizer’s Learning & Development for all of Europe, Canada, Africa, & the Middle East where he was instrumental in the development of a global management curriculum and other training initiatives to enhance organizational effectiveness for over 30,000 employees. He has worked on many high levels, cross functional teams addressing issues such as Field Force Effectiveness, Change Leadership, Leader Behavior Development, Executive Coaching and many others.

Since starting his own training company, James has developed and trained both public and private leadership, coaching, targeting and territory management sessions for hundreds of participants in various industries. James is bilingual and can teach in both English and Spanish http://www.magnifyleadership.com

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Relationships: Conflict Resolution Without Words

In the last few decades, partners have spent countless hours trying to “work out problems.” Yet over and over again they often come up against a major roadblock: they just don’t see things the same way. No matter how long they talk and how hard they try, neither ends up feeling really heard and understood.

While there are some couples that just naturally see things the same way, most people have a really hard time seeing things through the other person’s eyes. What often happens when they “communicate” is that each person tries to get the other person to see things his or her way. Instead of solving the problem, each is trying to have control over how the other person sees things. This often leads to more conflict and frustration.

While I am not suggesting that couples stop communicating over problems and issues, I am offering an additional way of resolving conflict: taking loving action in your own behalf.

This form of conflict resolution is about action rather than talk. Following are some of the actions you can take that may make a world of difference in your relationship.

LOVING ACTIONS

1. Choose to be compassionate toward yourself and your partner rather than choosing to judge yourself or your partner.

Judging yourself and your partner will always lead to more conflict. Choosing to compassionately care about yourself and your partner can totally change the energy between you, even without words. If you believe that you or your partner are bad or wrong for your feelings, behavior, or point of view, then you will not be able to let go of judgment. You will move toward compassion when you understand and accept that each of you has very good reasons for your feelings, behavior, and point of view. Try compassionately accepting yourself and your partner and see what happens!

2. Choose to practice self-discipline in terms of saying nothing rather than behaving in an inflammatory way toward your partner.

Practice zipping up your mouth! Practice letting go of having to be right! Practice walking away from a conflicted or heated situation, rather than jumping into the fray in the hopes of winning. If you look back, you will see that no one wins when both people are trying to control with anger, blame, explanations, debating, defending, lectures, or compliance. However, if you choose to walk away, walk away with love and compassion – intent on taking loving care of yourself rather than punishing your partner. Walking away in anger is just another way to control.

3. Choose to accept that you have no control over your partner’s feelings and behavior, but that you have total control over your own actions.

It is much easier to let go of trying to control your partner when you move into acceptance regarding who your partner is. Trying to change your partner is a total waste of energy. Changing yourself moves you into personal power.

4. Choose to take loving care of yourself in the face of the other person’s choices.

You will find yourself wanting to talk about problems when you see yourself as a victim of your partner’s choices. However, when you accept your partner for who he or she is and accept your lack of control over your partner, you can then see your way clear toward taking loving action in your own behalf. Asking the question, “What is the loving action toward myself right now?” will lead to ideas of how to take loving care of your self. Asking, “If I were an enlightened being, how would I be acting right now?” will open the door to creative ways of taking loving care of yourself.

Loving actions are actions that support your own highest good without harming your partner. For example, if you are tired of often being frustrated and rushed because your partner is generally late leaving for an event, you might decide to take your own car each time your partner is not ready on time. While your partner might not like your choice, your action is not harmful to him or her. It is an action that stops the power struggle and takes care of your self.

Letting go of trying to change your partner and taking loving action for your self are the keys to conflict resolution without words.

Margaret Paul, Ph.D. is the best-selling author and co-author of eight books, including “Do I Have To Give Up Me To Be Loved By You?” and “Healing Your Aloneness.” She is the co-creator of the powerful Inner Bonding healing process. Learn Inner Bonding now! Visit her web site for a FREE Inner Bonding course: http://www.innerbonding.com or email her at margaret@innerbonding.com Phone sessions available.

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Christian Coaching – The Art of Biblical Conflict Resolution

Conflict happens. It starts with the difficulty of pulling the covers off and stepping out of bed. So far so good. You shower, eat, drive to work, then something happens. (You knew it would, right?)

Trouble can come from every direction. A missed appointment causes a client to miss a deadline. A salesperson (maybe even you!) promises more than your business could deliver. A customer finds a defect in one of your best sellers that needs repairing right away.

We all know that setbacks are going to occur in life. difficulties that strain relations between you and your prospect. difficulties that can cause disappointment and mistrust to build. Will this mean the end of a once profitable relationship?

Not necessarily, when tensions rise between you and a client, it may be time for a real conversation. It is time to become transparent and address the problem that is causing trouble. But how do you keep a ugly conversation from becoming a full-scale argument that forever damages relations with your friend?

Here are 4 tips to get you through the hard talks that can make or break your business. Interpersonal obstacles or your hot buttons as they are called, are the emotional responses set off by the words or actions of others during tough conversations. You feel triggered during conflict when you think the other person’s words or actions as threatening to your being in some way. Common blockers include real or perceived threats to your competence, worth, freedom, and sense of belonging.

Your hot buttons can trip you up in argument because they cause you to misrepresent, switch off, lash out, or go off on the wrong trail. They also launch a set of emotional responses that may cause to expansion.

When you are exploding, your brain may encounter what is described as a neural hijacking. The brain concludes a threat, announces an calamity and moves into engagement. This taking over occurs so fast that the conscious, thinking portion of the brain does not yet fully process what is happening.

So, you are going ahead blindly. While saying he rubs me the wrong way suggests it is the other persons duty to leave you alone, only you can deal with your own triggers. Everyone’s bait is a little different, so what triggers me may not trigger you. This is why blaming others for baiting you is not very productive. You waste energy expecting them to change and do the right thing, when only you can change your own reactions.

How do you sidestep a trap instead of point fingers? Here are some effective principles for acknowledging, noticing, and monitoring conflict sparks. Start with reflecting your self. Keeping your self in check during difficult circumstances is in a large part dependent upon the evaluation you do when you are not in conflict.

Learn what triggers you and why you are set off. Get back to the bottom of it. A coach is an excellent resource to walk you through the process. Ignoring your intentions is like building a house without planning. Teach yourself alternative responses. Once you are less intense situations. You probably would not take Spanish 101 and then offer your services as an guru. By using your new skills often when the critical situation develops, you will be prepared to handle and masterfully defuse the situation.

In the beginning of the foray, step back. Assess your physiological state, body language and spoken communication. A hot face, sweating, yelling takes for your emotional flooding to ebb.

Beware of venting as a default method. While it is a popular notion that venting makes people feel better and aids getting the emotional buzz out of the way, research suggests that if you use this practice over and over, the opposite effect occurs. While it may take it away in the moment, venting anger as your normal mode may make you more angry and push your body and brain into a more intense state of anxiety or rage.

God’s Word tells us in Proverbs 26:4,5 says, the fool must be answered but not in a foolish manner. Studies show that anger is a obstacle for every Christian. Sinful anger comprises roughly 90 percent of all counseling issues . While it is not wrong to act in anger since the purpose of the emotion is to motivate. It is wrong if it is not used properly. It must be used to honor God. After all, anger is a compelling stimulus that God built into man with the desire of moving him to Scriptural action. Rage and anger are two separate emotions. Anger is appropriate in communication of feelings in reverberation to someones behavior. Jesus got angry. Mark writes to us that Jesus turned on the Pharisees in anger (3:5). John reminds us of Jesus driving out the moneychangers from the house of God (2:17). God, Himself is angry with the wicked everyday (Psalm 7:11).

To presuppose anger as wrong without qualification constitutes a careless and capricious use of scripture. Our emotional mix is from God. All of our emotions when used in love are blessed. Emotions become harmful when we fail to express them in conformity with Biblical limitations and structures. The Bible also teaches us to be angry AND sin not! Biblically appropriate anger can become inproper anger in two ways. By the ventilation of anger and by the internalization of anger. That is by blowing up and clamming up. The scriptural way to handle anger is to focus it on the circumstance not toward the person. Deal with it fast, and regain the relationship. Putting the other before yourself.

Michael Young is an experienced Christian coach and author who has coached others to success in their life, business, and relationships. Would you like to see how Michael can help you bring your dreams to life? Click here Christian Life Coaching Life Coaching – Complimentary Session Click here Life Coaching Session

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Recommend Business Communications: A New Approach To Conflict …

So you find yourself at odds with one of your colleagues at work and you want to make the best of a difficult situation. What should you do?

Well I ask you to look deep within yourself and ask the following question:

“What is the worst thing that I will “feel” if I don’t get my needs met?”

Notice I emphasize the issue of what you will “feel” because at the end of the day this is, whether you acknowledge it or not, what will matter most to you.

You may think that its not getting your needs met that is more important than what you feel. If that were the case and your feelings about the outcome were irrelevant then you would actually feel “detached” from the outcome and it would not in fact matter to you, would it?

So you see it all boils down to what you think and are afraid you will “feel” if your needs are not met.

Feelings such as: inadequacy, weakness, neediness, emptiness, fear of not surviving, fear of appearing weak or stupid, fear of feeling shame or embarrassment, etc.

The conflict that ensues is actually, at its most basic level about preventing an outcome that would cause you to feel such feelings.

Now suppose that you could make yourself immune to such negative feelings. That is you could completely detach yourself emotionally from the outcome. How does that feel to you?

Initially you might think that it will take away any motivation to get your needs met. Well think again. Isn’t the need that you are most trying to get met that of not feeling the negative feelings I listed above?

Well then, if that was guaranteed, so to speak, your needs would be immediately met, wouldn’t they? In which case the actual outcome would become a mute point, wouldn’t it?

You would be feeling in spite of the outcome, calm, emotionally detached, neutral, resilient, strong, confident, empowered, content, joyful etc.

Isn’t that what you really want?

How is this detachment to be achieved?

Well with a new modality called the Mind Resonance Process(TM) (MRP).

You can download a free audio sample of MRP at the web link below if you wish to get started on this journey.

Dr. Nick Arrizza is trained in Chemical Engineering, Business Management & Leadership, Medicine and Psychiatry. He is an Energy Psychiatrist, Healer, Key Note Speaker,Editor of a New Ezine Called “Spirituality And Science” (which is requesting high quality article submissions) Author of “Esteem for the Self: A Manual for Personal Transformation” (available in ebook format on his web site), Stress Management Coach, Peak Performance Coach & Energy Medicine Researcher, Specializes in Life and Executive Performance Coaching, is the Developer of a powerful new tool called the Mind Resonance Process(TM) that helps build physical, emotional, mental and spiritual well being by helping to permanently release negative beliefs, emotions, perceptions and memories. He holds live workshops, international telephone coaching sessions and international teleconference workshops on Physical. Emotional, Mental and Spiritual Well Being.

Business URL #1: http://www.telecoaching4u.com

Personal URL: http://www.telecoaching4u.com/Spirituality_And_Science.htm

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Conflict Resolution Activity

Conflict resolution activity is any step taken toward resolving a disagreement. You see, contrary to what many individuals believe, conflict is not all bad. There is actually good conflict. But, you need to know what conflict is before you can really assess a situation and determine of it is conflict. If it is, the you now know in order to get through this you will need some sort of conflict resolution activity.

Conflict is really just 2 parties in opposition, or which differ. If you are able to analyze a situation, determine there is or will be conflict, then use some of the following techniques, you will get through this and move on. If you try to resist this, or dig your heels in, it will not go away. If you ignore this, it will not go away. The best way to handle conflict is to just go and face it.

You must maintain self-control during conflict. If it becomes emotional, you have already lost. Also, when in the conflict itself, try to see what you can learn from it. There is always something to learn from each and every situation you run into during the day. It may not be obvious at the time, but each of the conflicting parties will be teaching the other something valuable.

You will need to become an active listener. This means you nee to repeat to the other person that you did in fact hear what their problem is. If you are not sure, then ask questions. Probably half of the time conflict arises it is the result of a misunderstanding. If you can ask questions, it will help you better understand the situation.

You may need to give some to get something. I have done this before where I had to modify a project I was doing, giving up certain portions, so I could get more implemented. I did this by going to each person and asking their opinions and what they liked or did not like. I the end, we had a project everyone agreed upon and liked.

The first part of this process really is understanding when a conflict situation is present. Then, using some of the conflict resolution activity techniques above can help you get through, normally with each party getting something accomplished.

For more information on conflict resolution, visit The Art Of Team Building

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Resolving Team Conflict-Nine Steps to Constructive Resolution

If you’ve ever worked on a team where one or more of the team members are in conflict, then you know just how stressful this situation can be. Left unresolved, conflicts between individuals can fester, spill over into the team’s relationships, and seriously hinder productivity. What’s a team leader to do?

Let’s begin with what not to do.

Ignore It

You may have tried the avoidance technique thinking that the issue will just die down. And perhaps it did…temporarily. But the next time someone on the team experiences similar frustrations, that simmering pot will boil right over.

Quash It

This is my personal favorite: just demand that the folks in conflict grow up and get over it. Try this tactic and you’ll drive the conflict underground. That results in lots of game playing. I recall a team that I worked on early in my career that had one very unhappy team member and one manager who insisted that she “get over it”. The rest of the team were treated to strange, stealth attacks in which nasty magazine articles mysteriously appeared on our desks, offering advice about cheap nose jobs, eliminating bad breath, and improving personal hygiene.

Tell Them to Work It Out

On the surface this looks like a pretty good course of action: hold them accountable and don’t get involved. Sweet. The problem is that if your team members could have worked it out without your help, they would have done that already. What they need is your guidance to help talk it through and arrive at resolution.

Take Sides

It may seem like the quickest route to resolution is to intervene and crown the winner. There is more than one problem with this approach. First, you remind them of Mom or Dad, so guess who they’ll come to when it’s time to find a judge for the next disagreement? Second, conflict usually isn’t this clear cut. We bring the complexity of our life experiences to the table any time we find we are in conflict.

Since these four approaches won’t work in the long term, let’s look at some underlying principles:

# Any time someone is in conflict, there’s a story to tell about the past.
# An individual’s underlying needs may result in unreasonable demands.
# People in conflict can’t always put their finger on the underlying cause or articulate their needs.
# Unwarranted assumptions are often made and expressed as fact.
# Listening to someone else’s point of view may feel like capitulation.
# As the manager or team leader, the best role you can play is that of a neutral mediator.

Try this approach the next time you have two people on your team in conflict:

1. Invite both parties to the table.
2. Clarify your role as a neutral facilitator.
3. Gain agreement to listen openly to each other.
4. Ask each person to tell his or her story about the past, while the other listens without responding.
5. Have each person record new information they hear or realizations they have while listening.
6. Have each person talk directly to the other person about what they learned that helps them understand the other’s point of view.
7. Encourage brainstorming to find possible solutions that meet both people’s needs.
8. Develop an action plan with small steps to success.
9. Celebrate collaborative action.

Eventually this process can be used by all team members when conflict arises. You won’t be tempted to ignore it, quash it, tell them to work it out, or take sides. The team will experience the long-term gains of developing stronger, deeper relationships with your guidance.

Cynthia Clay is the President/CEO of NetSpeed Leadership (http://netspeedleadership.com). NetSpeed Leadership meets the learning needs of managers, supervisors, and individual contributors in small to mid-sized organizations. Our programs blend interactive instruction techniques with online reinforcement tools to extend learning beyond the classroom. With this holistic approach, our clients quickly launch programs, train participants, reinforce skills, and measure the impact. To learn more about conflict resolution, look at Transforming Team Conflict, one of 23 modules in the Netspeed Leadership training system.

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