Conflict Resolution

Conflict resolutionConflict is inevitable because we want to differentiate ourselves from others and we all have different values, priorities and interests. But conflict is not all bad. It yields better ideas - as free markets create better products. So we don't want to dampen conflict simply in the name of team spirit. 

What is the best win-win solution you can devise? An excessive drive to win will lead to lose-lose outcomes.

Start by trying to get to the bottom of the conflict. Dig out hidden agendas - for example, one manager may be resisting a new idea simply because he or she developed the old one or because the other party is seen as an  enemy!

Encourage both parties to state what they agree with or like about the other's position. What other common ground can you find? Common goals, values, beliefs? Finding areas of agreement can help to make other parties realize that you are not rejecting everything they are saying.

Be sure to depersonalize conflict by focusing on how something is affecting you or some other issue. Avoid attacking or blaming the other preson. Help both parties understand how the new idea builds on, rather than devalues the old.

Using authority to stifle conflict breeds resentment which will surface elswhere. Helping parties in conflict maintain self esteem or save face is critical. Asking open questions to show that you wish to understand and are willing to listen.

Bargain so that both sides receive some benefit from a joint compromise. Successful conflict resolution requires emotional intelligence on both sides to create win-win solutions. Listen actively by asking open supportive questions. The more you can draw solutions out of the other party, the more likely you are to get agreement.

See also: Relationships at Work for tips on relationship building skills.

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