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How to Handle Workplace Conflict

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Posted 10 June 2016 by Chris FarmerChris Farmer

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You may find the following will help with the training of your team leaders and managers.

How to Handle Workplace Conflict

Conflict is bound to happen because; people sometimes disagree.

The big question is: How well do you handle conflicts?

Some people don't handle conflicts very well because they come-on too strong; they say too much and they make the situation worse.

On the other hand, some people are too passive and don't say anything.

The best way forward is to find the middle ground between "coming on too strong" and "not saying enough".

Learn how to manage conflict situations logically, confidently and quickly.

How to Perfect your conflict management skills

The first step is to realize that Conflicts come in two basic types.

  1. Conflicts that based on poor communication.
  2. Conflicts based on poor behaviour.

Managing conflict based on poor communication.

Many conflicts are based on poor communication that later lead to misunderstandings. Then the misunderstandings cause "wrong actions" and therefore conflict situations.

Your aim is to minimise the chances of conflict by specifying your message and doing everything possible to eliminate misunderstandings.

Define all ambiguous messages, such as "I need that document, ASAP" or "Please make sure you come appropriately dressed".

Use quantitative, numerical language, whenever possible. Put numbers on your message. "I need that document, ASAP, no later than 6pm today."

Identify time lines so that there is no confusion about dates and times.

Always try to make your language positive, friendly, assertive and exact. Beware of unintended negative commands such as:

  • "Don't panic!"
  • "Don't worry"
  • "Don't be late, tomorrow"

Give positive commands such as, "Stay calm". "Make sure you are there before 9 o'clock".

Don't allow your message to have multiple possible meanings.

You need to make sure that there is only ONE possible meaning derivable from your message.

What are the correct principles of rational conflict management?

Use your sense of logic and reason to resolve conflict; don't use avoidance, nor high emotions such as anger or upset.

When in conflict, never criticise their personality. Instead, comment only on their behaviour.

When in conflict, use only factual specific language. Don't use emotionally charged, opinionated, derogatory or accusational language.

If you can, always prepare your message in advance. Think about what you will say, and think about what you will refrain from saying.

Make sure you get the time and place right. Don't have the conflict in front of a big audience.

Don't argue about the past; you can't change the past. If you are going to argue, then make sure that you are arguing about the future.

You can change the future. You can't change the past.

Be very aware of your voice tones and body language. Don't point your finger at anyone.

When in conflict, never shout at people. Instead, speak slowly and calmly with low voice tones.

Please, never swear or make threats. Instead, make some logical suggestions as to the best way out of the conflict situation.

If the person makes any move towards doing what you want, then give immediate praise for any positive move, on their part.

If you have gained an agreement; don't linger. Leave!

When in conflict keep control of your word.

Conflict Management Training Course Quiz

People disagree, so conflict needs to be resolved quickly and without fuss. Try our Conflict Management Course quiz to discover where your conflict skills are strongest, and where they are not so strong.

Conflict Management

Conflict Management Training

Conflict is inevitable, because people disagree. Therefore, you must be able to handle conflict situations effectively. You must know how to be assertive, clear and professional (not emotional, upset and angry) whilst in conflict. If you want to learn more on how to achieve this, please click here to see our conflict management training.

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