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Seven Highly Effective Principles to Resolve Conflict

Conflict costs money, it decreases engagement and productivity. It causes frustration and dissatisfaction.

In a study on workplace conflict commissioned by CPP, the publishers of the Myers-Brigg Assessment and Thomas-Kilmann Conflict Mode Instrument, the findings included:

  • Managers spend over 30% of their time dealing with ‘conflict’
  • 25% of employees said that avoiding conflict led to sickness ‘or absence from work’
  • 30% said that conflict resulted in a person leaving the ‘company, either through being sacked or through quitting’
  • The primary cause of workplace conflict was related to ‘personality conflicts, followed by stress and workload’

It is critical, therefore, that you, your managers and team leaders have the skills and confidence to deal appropriately and successfully with conflict issues. I coach clients in a specific conflict resolution process, and our success rate using this method is greater than 90%.

The solution process is centred around the following principles:

  1. Address the issue/conflict promptly.
    • Most issues do not ‘just go away by themselves‘
  2. Communication is key to managing the conflict successfully, to solving the issue and to achieving the desired outcomes.
    • Listen without judgment, don’t interrupt, and check that you have understood them correctly.
    • Ask, don’t assume. Ask open questions.
    • Consciously separate the facts and feelings. Contrary to older methodologies feelings do need to be addressed for conflict to be genuinely resolved. Start with the facts.
  3. Use Problem-Solving Techniques & Strategies
    • Start with ‘I’ statements or ‘My perception is…’
      .Avoid ‘you’ statements. They sound accusatory and are likely to cause defensive or aggressive responses.
    • The people involved in the issue must be the people involved in determining the solution. This maximises the chances of determining a solution they will commit to.
  4. Maintain dignity and respect
    • Keep the focus on the issues and not the personalities.
  5. Listen with empathy
    • Give your full attention to appreciating how the other person sees the same situation differently to you. Be receptive to the meaning.
  6. Find common ground when change is needed
    • It can be tempting to force or expect others to change their behavioural style. This is possible, but difficult.
  7. Honour diversity
    • Different viewpoints encourage creativity to search for a solution.
    • If we ‘always agree’ it usually means one person is dominating and the other is complying.

To your team’s success,