What is Conflict Management: Disagreement with someone’s thoughts or ideas. No want wants to be wrong is a common human behavior.
Conflict Resolution: Conflict resolution is the process in which two or more parties work toward a solution to a problem or dispute. The parties involved working together to achieve a solution that solves the problem in a way that is productive.
How to Prevent Conflict:
- For resolving conflict, communication skills are mandatory.
- Conflict should be resolved in a constructive and assertive way.
- We have to share out thoughts and ideas with logic and data.
- We should have the good active listening ability. First, listen to your counterparts view points and share your thought in an assertive way.
- Have to have great emotional intelligent skills. Self Awareness, Self Control, Self Regulation is mandatory.
- Show empathy to others.
- Don’t take things personally
- Don’t attack by person, attack by ideas.
- Improve negotiation skills.
- Show a willingness to compromise or collaborate.
- Know when to apologize and forgive.
- Focus on the conflict at hand and not past ones.
- Use humor, when appropriate.
- Remember the importance of the relationship.
Respond instead of reacting to conflict.
Conflict Resolution Strategies:
The Thomas-Kilmann Model of conflict resolution describes five strategies for addressing conflict. The five strategies lie on two axes: assertive and cooperative. Each of the strategies ranges between assertiveness and unassertiveness and cooperative and uncooperative. No strategy is right or wrong, there’s an appropriate time to use each one.
Before diving head-first into the conflict discussion, establish boundaries upfront for all parties to follow. These might include the following:
- Reminding everyone that the conflict is not personal
- Asking everyone to keep the discussion confidential
- Trusting everyone to manage their emotions and not make outbursts, hurtful remarks, or make untrue statements
5 Styles for resolving conflict:
The accommodating style is commonly seen when people want to be unassertive and cooperative. Not every conflict needs to be a war — conflicts worth accommodating are those battles that are strategically lost to win the war.
An example of a time where you might accommodate a colleague or customer is when they complain about a process, but not an outcome. Perhaps you ran a report that yielded the results the other party needed, but the report was in PDF form and not Excel. The other person didn’t specify a preference but took issue with the delivery. By simply accommodating the request, you prove to be a helpful, solutions-oriented team member. Plus, you’ll get bonus points if you deliver the correct report quickly.
The avoiding conflict strategy is reserved for individuals who are more inclined to be unassertive and uncooperative in mitigating conflict. Generally, this is an apathetic approach — people who adopt this strategy want no parts of the conflict and would rather wait for it to blow over.
This strategy is best for small annoyances, one-off mistakes, and issues that would otherwise be worsened by addressing them. An example of a conflict you might avoid in the workplace is when someone drinks the last of the water from the water cooler without replacing the water container. If it’s a one-time issue, leave it be. It’s likely not worth the 2-minute discussion in the all-hands meeting.
If you want to keep a relationship intact and find a solution that works for everyone, try the collaborative style of conflict resolution. This strategy is both cooperative and assertive which means that all parties will be heard and the solution that is chosen should work well for everyone.
An example of a conflict you might collaborate on at work is a process between two separate teams. Perhaps the sales team needs to hand off customers to the support team once the deal is closed, but customers aren’t being contacted by support for days after the handoff. The two teams may collaborate to streamline the workflow. The sales team may stagger the deals they close so that support can keep up with the demand. It’s a win-win for both parties.
Assertive and uncooperative, the competing conflict style is an intense approach to resolving grievances. It’s not uncommon for a competing conflict resolution strategy to yield a positive outcome for one party and a negative outcome for the other. This strategy isn’t one to make new friends, so tread lightly.
You might see a competing conflict management strategy used when negotiating deals. Lawyers may use this strategy to get the best legal outcome for their client at the expense of the other party. A competing strategy works here because it’s highly unlikely that the lawyer will cross paths with the opposing party again, so there’s no relationship to maintain or salvage later.
People tend to compromise during conflicts when they are assertive and cooperative in negotiating a solution. This strategy may sound harsh, but it’s usually employed when time is of the essence and there’s no time to hear everyone’s concerns or opinions. The compromise is based on the most important and urgent facts that can bring about a decision that works for the time being.
A team might compromise on a solution to cancel an event at the last minute due to issues with the venue. While it may not be the best solution for revenue, prolonging the conflict doesn’t help the situation. So a compromise to cancel the event and figure the rest out later is the best solution for customers, employees, and vendors.
In addition to these five conflict resolution strategies, the following two tips can accompany any of the above to reach a resolution.
Conflict Resolution Examples:
Conflicts can emerge from several different factors including miscommunication, prioritization, and unmet expectations. Below, we’ll describe three scenarios that depict each of these common causes for conflict and how to resolve them with one of the strategies listed above.
Scenario 1: Unmet Expectations
Marcus and Ollie work at TechTak, a start-up that provides marketing and sales solutions to small businesses. They’re working on a pitch presentation for their biggest client to date, saved. The presentation is scheduled for next Thursday with Maria, the program director at Save Send, so it’s important that Marcus and Ollie finish it on time.
At the alignment meeting last week, TechTak’s client services department head, Riley, delegated the presentation content to Marcus’ team and gave the design responsibility to Ollie.
On the Tuesday before the presentation date, Riley sent an email to check the status of the presentation and how well the two teams were working together. Unfortunately, Ollie hadn’t received any content from Marcus’ team to design the presentation around. On the other hand, Marcus hadn’t received creative direction or the recommended presentation length from Ollie so his team could write enough content.
With Thursday’s deadline approaching and no presentation draft insight, Ollie and Marcus are both frustrated and anxious to complete the project on time. How should both teams resolve this conflict?
Let’s look at the facts:
- Time is of the essence and delaying the presentation isn’t an option.
- Both Ollie and Marcus need more information to complete their assigned tasks.
- The line of communication has been opened by a third party, Riley.
Based on what we know about each conflict resolution strategy, the collaborative style would work best for this situation. Marcus and Ollie are under a time crunch, and the work will need to be done in the next two days. They can use Riley as a neutral third party to help them outline the specifications of the project and assign strict deadlines that both parties can agree on.
Scenario 2: Out of Order
Brenda and Candace both work as administrative assistants for the local credit union MetroMoney. Their roles are highly dependent upon one another, and as a result, they’ve become good friends both at work and in their personal lives.
At MetroMoney, Brenda focuses on scheduling appointments for new members to open accounts while Candace prepares the documents they’ll need to sign when they arrive. Due to the nature of the role, Brenda’s workflow moves much faster than Candace’s. Brenda can schedule about 10 appointments each day while Candace can prepare about five document packages in her shift.
Occasionally, some customer’s documents aren’t prepared at the time of their appointment as Candace prepares documents in the order that appointments are set, not the date on which they’re scheduled.
On this particular day, Brenda asked Candace to expedite the documents for two customers who were set to arrive soon. Candace responded that she couldn’t because her cadence would be out of order. Instead, she asked Brenda to reschedule the customers’ appointments for a week later when their documents would be ready.
How can Brenda and Candace work together to make sure the customers will have their documents when they arrive at their appointment?
Let’s look at the facts:
- Brenda and Candace both have goals to achieve each day, neither of which can be ignored completely.
- Timing is important, but there is some wiggle room for both parties to work within.
- If the customers’ documents aren’t ready, they won’t be able to open their accounts, which affects the bottom line for both Brenda and Candace.
We know that Brenda and Candace have a strong relationship and some leeway in solving this issue, so they could collaborate to solve the conflict. By asserting their needs and cooperating with each other, Brenda can reschedule the customers’ appointments for the end of the week rather than next week as Candace originally proposed, and Candace can reorganize her workload to prioritize their documents first. The benefit of collaborating on this resolution is that both Brenda and Cadance can maintain their otherwise seamless working relationship without any hard feelings later on.
Scenario 3: The Interview
Sadie is applying for a role as a customer service representative at Humbolt Hardware, a hardware subscription service for DIY home renovators. Jim, the hiring manager, scheduled her interview for Wednesday at noon and Sadie agreed to arrive at that time.
On Wednesday, Sadie logged in to Zoom for her interview with Jim, but ten minutes passed and he didn’t show up or respond to her email asking if he could still make it.
An hour later, Jim responds to Sadie’s email saying he’s online and ready for the interview.
Sadie was unavailable and didn’t see the email until later that evening. When she responded, they both realized that they were operating in two different time zones, and neither of them confirmed which one. Jim, unfortunately, doesn’t have any openings available to reschedule the interview tomorrow and Sadie is frustrated with the process thus far.
How should Sadie and Jim proceed?
Let’s look at the facts:
- Sadie is applying for a role and is willing to be flexible to secure the job with Humbolt Hardware, but she still wants to make the most of her time during the interview process.
- Jim’s schedule is busy and he has several interviews scheduled aside from Sadie’s.
- Neither Sadie nor Jim intended to miscommunicate the time of the interview and both made an effort to show up at the time they thought was correct.
The accommodating conflict resolution strategy is the most applicable in this situation. The bright side is, both individuals have some motivation to accommodate the other person. Sadie wants to put her best foot forward and be a stand-out candidate for the role. Jim wants to vet all the candidates and fill the role as quickly as possible. So long as both parties specify the time zone of the interview this time around, they’ll have solved the conflict in a way that is amicable and productive.
Manage and Resolve Conflicts Like a Pro
Conflict doesn’t have to be a scary eight-letter word. Addressing conflict is how we strengthen our relationships and express our expectations in relation to those of others. By understanding the five conflict resolution strategies and applying the skills that make them effective, we can know exactly when to avoid conflict and when to address it. Our relationships with our coworkers and customers will be better for it.