Posted 21 April 2009 by Chris Farmer
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Conflict management skills
Conflict management skills: Do you know any managers who mishandle conflict situations and make things worse?
They would benefit from learning how to handle difficult people with more skill.
They might benefit from learning how to apply the proper conflict resolution skills.
There are many conflict management skills to master
Here are the first eight:
In a nutshell they are:
- Do not argue for entertainment value.
- Always let the other person "save face"
- When in a conflict situation, use objective, factual language
- Prepare your message before you speak
- Think of the way out of the conflict
- Distinguish between a reason and an excuse for not doing something
- Focus on the future behaviour, not the past behaviour.
- Learn to handle conflict by attending a training course
Let us look at each one in turn.
Do not argue for entertainment value
Some people just love to argue.
For them, it is a sport.
A form of entertainment
Don't do it!
It is bad business.
It is bad business because an argumentative nature breaks up harmony in the team.
Conflict disrupts the productive atmosphere.
And we are paid for the team's productivity.
Protect their Self-concept
The self-concept is the other person's "ego".
The suggestion here is that: you should always protect the other person's ego as you criticise their behaviour.
Let the other person save face
Use Objective, fact based language
The way to protect the other person's ego is for you, the speaker, to use objective, not subjective language.
Objective language is factual, specific, non judgmental and non emotionalised language.
Subjective language is the opposite: Vague, judgmental, emotionally charged language
- "You were twenty minutes late for the meeting. Please be on time for the next meeting" is objective language = good
- "You are unprofessional" is subjective = NOT good
- "You said "sod off" to a client. Never use such language to a client in the future" is objective = good
- You are rude and offensive" is subjective = NOT good.
Prepare your message in advance
Think before you speak.
And when you do start speaking, keep it brief.
The more you say, the more likely you are to say something wrong.
Analyse and examine your opening statement before you say it.
Give them a way out of the conflict
It is not enough to say "That is wrong and here is why"
You must be able to suggest an alternative that is reasonable under the circumstances.
Keep asking yourself
- "What is the way out of this situation?"
- "What would I have them do INSTEAD of this current behaviour?"
You will benefit yourself if you have thought out the solution proposal, before you speak.
Distinguish "Reason" from "Excuse"
If the person says NO to your suggestions, then you will have to distinguish between
A reason for not doing something is:
- A one off event
An excuse for not doing something is the opposite:
- Multiple use of the same story
Distinguish reasons from excuses and have a different policy for each.
Focus on the future
Focus the conversation on the question:
"From this moment onwards: what should we agree on being the best way forwards?"
As opposed to
"Why did you do (past tense) the thing you did?"
Do not focus on the past behaviour.
Do not focus on the past behaviour because you cannot change it.
Instead: Focus on the future behaviour
Focus on the future behaviour because you can change it.
Learn to handle conflict by attending a training course
Contemplate these points and apply them.
Then recognise that you would probably be helped by attending our professional conflict management skills course.