Resolving Conflicts at Work

image of 2 people in office looking tense with the title: Resolving conflicts at work

How do you resolve conflicts at work? Or in your personal life, for that matter? There are four ways to go about it:

Listen to this post. Click a player to hear George & Mary-Lynn on the BIGG Success Show Podcast (Runtime 6:25)

Blow up

Go ahead. Get mad. Get it off your chest. You’ll feel better. Who cares about anyone else?

As you might guess, this is one way to handle conflict. But it’s not an effective way to resolve them.

Throw up

Okay, not in a literal sense. But you can spew negativity to anybody and everybody who will listen.

Oh, with one exception – you won’t talk with the person or persons who have it in their power to resolve the conflict.

Clam up

Don’t say a word. Just take it. Internalize everything. Deal with it. And feel your blood pressure rise along with the acid reflux.

This is another way to handle a conflict but not one that’s recommended.

We saw a great post by Megan Hustad on Fortune’s site. It explains how silence can cost you in another way. With jobs still hard to come by, she points out that a lot of people are afraid to rock the boat.

The irony is that you may be better off doing just that. She quotes Joseph Grenny, co-author of Crucial Conversations: Tools for Talking When Stakes are High.

He says while workers feel clamming up increases their job security, the opposite is true. Job security is increased by dealing with conflicts at work in a way we haven’t yet talked about.

Step up

Deal with conflict directly but gingerly. Talk to the person or persons who can do something about it. Be the emotionally mature adult in the room of people we’ve discussed above.

People who resolve conflicts are just as valuable as people who find a resolution to any other problem. Demonstrate how valuable you are by tackling issues head on.

  • Know the purpose of your conversation before you ask for it. The critical point-of-view is that you are having a conversation, not a confrontation.As Grenny points out, you can show respect while being candid. You can be honest without being brutal. You can be assertive while being civil.
  • Focus on fixing the problem, not the blame. Explain the situation in a way that doesn’t make anyone defensive. One of the best ways to do this is to fix the blame on things, not people.Here’s a model: When X happened, people felt Y. For example, when the policy changed, people felt taken advantage of.

    Yeah, because another way of saying that is: You changed the policy. Now everyone thinks you’re a jerk who is out to screw them over.

    Would you get defensive if someone said that to you? Most people would. Who could blame you? So keep the conversation productive with the words you use.

  • Practice, practice, practice before the actual conversation.  You can do it in a mirror while you’re putting on your makeup or shaving in the morning. Watch and listen while you do so you can make sure you’re conveying the message with the tone of your voice and your facial expressions.Find someone you can role play with. Simulate the environment as closely as possible. If you will be sitting, sit while you practice. If you will be standing, stand. You want to work on your body language while you rehearse.

If you don’t have any conflict, you’re probably not doing enough. Conflict is a healthy thing. Conflict is an opportunity.

But only if you step up. It will make you stand out from the crowd which leads to BIGG success!

What tips do you have for resolving a conflicts at work?

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