When you work as a manager, supervisor, or other business leader, dealing with conflict is part of the job. It is hardly the most pleasant aspect, but inevitable from time to time. Effective conflict resolution strategies help you mitigate the damage and allow everyone to move forward as a stronger team. To assist your conflict resolution efforts, review the following worthwhile strategies.Free Consultation for Workplace Conflict
When a conflict arises, taking time to pause and breathe can prove invaluable. It allows everyone to calm down, think about what they want to say or were about to say, and hopefully refrain from increasing the tension. Deep breathing exercises can therefore be effective, since deep breathing instantly relaxes the mind and body. It is not uncommon for those in conflict to engage in shallow breathing, because they are upset and not focusing on their breath. By taking a moment to breathe and relax, it is likely that the problem will not escalate and possibly result in insults.
In addition to practicing deep breathing in the event of a conflict, consider scheduling deep breathing or meditation classes for your team. For example, you could implement “Meditation Mondays” that allow everyone to relax and meditate before they dive into the work day. This helps put the team in a great mood to start the week.
Effective conflict resolution strategies never include hashing the issue out in public. Trying to resolve the conflict with the rest of the team present puts the affected individuals on the spot and can make everyone in the office/other workplace highly uncomfortable. Private meetings, such as those in empty meeting or conference rooms, sidestep these problems. It allows the team members in question to discuss the issue without an audience and therefore be more forthcoming. Depending on the nature of the issue, it might be best to hold separate private meetings to avoid further tension and strife.
Make it clear to the employees in conflict that you are not there to judge or take sides. Instead, emphasize that it is your job to hear both sides and come up with the best solution. Emphasize that you want to devise a solution that works for everyone so no one walks away feeling unhappy or slighted.
Effective conflict resolution strategies typically include compromising. For example, say one party is increasingly frustrated with another party’s project turnaround time. While the work is always high-quality, it is often completed at the “last minute,” much to the first party’s chagrin. As a result, the first party sent an inflammatory email to the second party that resulted in a public confrontation. Since both parties are at fault, you could suggest that the second employee be more communicative with the first employee about project deadlines. The first employee could agree to refrain from sending inflammatory emails and adjust their schedule so they have other projects to work on. Both individuals compromise and walk away from the meeting feeling better.
If you feel the issue is beyond what you can provide, consider professional mediation services. A pro mediator is entirely objective and trained to handle a wide range of conflicts efficiently and effectively. Depending on the size of your company, you might want to suggest keeping a pro mediator on retainer. Having someone with a thorough education in conflict resolution can prove to be an invaluable contractor on your team, as the individual helps mitigate issues before they become serious.