Times are changing, and stress levels ebb and flow with the unpredictability of the corporate world. You may have noticed that it’s taken a toll on relationships and interactions in the office. Well, that’s because the potential for conflict goes hand in hand with raised levels of stress in the workplace.
Have you ever had a dispute with a coworker? Or had to have an uncomfortable conversation where you didn’t know how to broach the subject? Or worse, have you already had that awkward discussion and now struggle to clear the air?
Effectively resolving misunderstandings, conflicts, and lingering tension is essential for a healthy, confident, and growing work culture. So if you’ve ever been in any of the situations above, then the skill you should be developing is conflict resolution.
Your EQ, or emotional intelligence, reflects how well you understand and express your feelings. Being in tune with your emotions is helpful in difficult situations because it can affect the desired resolution. Conflicts in the workplace require professionals to act on reason rather than emotional impulse. You may be unable to dictate various aspects of any given disagreement, but you can still be aware and responsible for what only you can control.
Just think of how many minor problems have turned into big deals simply because someone’s point of view wasn’t considered? Take some time to acknowledge and respect the feelings of others involved in a conflict or dispute so that everyone can be on the same page about what problems need solving and how to find a common resolution.
As mentioned earlier, you may not be able to control the emotions of others, but you can definitely be aware and responsible for your own. Managing your emotions and expressing yourself professionally and respectfully shows your fellow team members that you’re capable of giving and receiving constructive feedback in a healthy and productive way.
Entering tense situations with a “tit for tat” mentality or leaving a dispute holding onto a grudge is typical of a toxic work environment. In most workplace conflicts, it may be best to discard personal sensitivities for a more professional approach. Consider going into every confrontation with the intent of resolving issues rather than an eye for an eye.
A conversation is a two-way street, which means listening is just as critical as speaking. How you listen can make or break your goals for peaceful resolutions. Giving everyone time and space to voice their feelings, opinion, and side of the story encourages a discussion rather than an argument. Think about how you listen and how you can improve your overall communication skills and conflict resolution skills.
Listening is more than simply being quiet as others are speaking. Practice active listening by taking the time to really absorb the information someone’s sharing with you, especially when attempting to smooth over a disagreement. Replace reactive responses for peaceful give and take so that resolutions and common ground can more easily be reached.
Read the room for verbal and non-verbal cues that can help you thoughtfully navigate stressful conversations. Because let’s face it, a lot can be said without ever opening one’s mouth. It may be obvious to state that when someone is agitated, laughter can escalate an already tense situation. That said, it may be beneficial to shift gears in your verbal approach if you see a team member reacting uncomfortably through their body language.
After taking in all of the information, where do you go from there? Problems don’t magically solve themselves. It takes careful consideration and negotiation strategies to reach a resolution. It’s important to understand that problem-solving is about just that, solving problems, not winning.
Reaching the bottom line of a dispute or disagreement between colleagues requires knowing what all parties need to achieve a mutual understanding. Compromising isn’t losing. It’s making sure that all parties involved can leave a workplace conflict feeling heard and valued. Try to find the middle-ground when dealing with issues so that everyone can benefit from a win-win turnout and get back to work.
Being resourceful and having the capacity for thoughtful, real-time solutions can make creative problem-solving a breeze, but that doesn’t mean it should fall on one person. When it comes to conflict resolution techniques, two heads can sometimes be better than one. Collaborate with team members for easier and faster resolutions. Let the best idea win, regardless of who came up with it.
Not all problems can be solved, but making an effort and approaching the situation properly can make coming to a conclusion and moving on easier. Developing your conflict resolution skills will set you up for tackling any issue in the workplace.
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