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Five steps to make conflict at work constructive

No matter how hard you try, there’s no avoiding conflict in the workplace.

And, while the way we work has shifted as a result of the current global pandemic, workplace conflict still exists—whether working remotely or in a physical setting.

Leaders have struggled to make their work environments free from disputes, but the nature of people often brings personality conflicts to the surface. While they may be inevitable, skilled leaders can take advantage of these situations and transform workplace conflict into opportunity.

What causes conflict?

Workplace conflict often take up valuable time during the day, and on average, 2.8 hours a week are lost resolving these tense situations. This translates into hundreds of billions of dollars of lost productivity annually, with no intrinsic value. There are several reasons why office problems bubble to the surface:

  • team members are unsure of their roles or responsibilities,
  • there is a lack of clear communication, and
  • interpersonal differences and personality conflicts rise to the surface.

Conflict can be really uncomfortable, but it doesn’t always have to be a bad thing. With a little creativity, flexibility, and directness, the underlying source of conflict can be uncovered and possibly transformed into an opportunity for collaboration and creativity among your team.

Watch as PowerED™ subject matter expert Ilana Zinyk provides some tools you can use to manage conflict.

Five simple steps to help turn workplace conflict constructive:

1. Use the ladder of perception

No two people look at the world the same way. Take a moment to slow down and explore the different perspectives those involved with the conflict might have. Examining the issue from a different angle may help to shed light on the situation in its entirety.

2. Discover the underlying cause

Chances are there is more to the conflict than what initially appears. Getting to the heart of the matter and examining different perspective helps to clarify the root of the problem.

3. Seek solutions

Don’t spend all your time hashing out the details. Instead, stay focused on listening and proposing solutions.

4. Remain emotionally calm

The hardest part of discussing issues is keeping calm, but it’s also imperative to acknowledge how everyone feels about the situation.

5. Stay flexible

There’s more than one way to solve any problem. Listen to the team and find out if there are other less obvious solutions. Always be open to suggestions.

Moving towards resolution and respect

As discussed in PowerED™ course, Communication and Conflict Resolution, the path to conflict resolution involves not only taking a closer look at the initial problem, but also identifying what the underlying issues may be. In order to move the team past workplace conflicts, a leader needs to understand how to influence the group to stay on task while taking advantage of the opportunity disruptions can cause.

With the right frame of mind, leaders can capitalize on workplace conflict, and not only focus on fixing the issue at hand, but also resolving underlying issues and building a stronger team. If you’re interested in learning more about effectively handling workplace conflict and advancing your leadership skills, visit the Essential Skills for Leaders Certificate webpage today.

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  • February 22, 2021