Conflict can be understood as a clash between two individuals or groups based on ideologies, attitudes, and interests. Simply put, any difference of opinion that causes friction between people is a conflict.
We can think of conflict as a tug of war where individuals at either end try to tug on the rope toward their preferred choices.
Let us take an example to understand what conflict might look like in the workplace.
Picture this: You are a manager leading a group of ten people. The team stands out as a bunch of opinionated, efficient, and headstrong individuals. Your team has just been assigned a new project that everyone has been excited about. A lot of brainstorming, ideation, and creative inputs are shared in the team’s group. Among these messages, you spot a heated disagreement between Sarah and Riya about a difference in creative vision and how the team should approach the project. As their manager, you feel the need to step in to comprehend the situation and address any concerns they may be facing.
Having worked with multiple teams through your career, you understand that most conflicts arise due to miscommunication. The first thing you do is set up a call with Sarah and Riya. You invite them to share their viewpoints respectfully. During the conversation, you adopt active listening, and give them time and space to express themselves, their ideas, and how they feel about the situation.
As the conversation unfolds, you acknowledge Sarah and Riya’s emotions and ideas. You encourage them to work together and identify common grounds to bring in innovative ideas and complete the project. You use collaboration, active listening, and empathy to resolve conflicts that come up. And there, you’ve stitched up the conflict that had the potential to pull your team apart.
As you may agree, conflicts can arise anywhere and anytime. However, they need not be negative all the time, positive conflicts arise while exchanging ideas, and conflict resolution may help us find creative solutions to the problem. In another scenario where conflicts disrupt the harmony of the shared workspaces, here’s how you effectively resolve it:
Use active listening skills and avoid reacting immediately, instead understand and respond. Give each person the space to express their viewpoints respectfully.
Be empathetic. Understand and acknowledge the emotions and concerns of those involved.
Channelise energy towards finding a solution to the problem.
Encourage communication and collaboration. Overlook the implementation of mutually agreed-upon solutions to address any possible conflicts that may arise.
Provide training to team members to equip them with effective conflict resolution skills.
Reflect on each conflict to prevent future clashes and promote growth.
Lead by example: Model positive conflict resolution behavior for your team.
Remember, conflict isn't necessarily a bad thing – it's a chance to find creative solutions and strengthen relationships. With your guidance, your team can navigate these tugs-of-war and come out stronger.