Understanding conflict in the workplace is an important skill for anyone at the helm of a team to have. Knowing how to resolve conflict is especially important for leaders to understand so that costly consequences can be avoided down the road. But solving conflict isn’t the starting point of the skill set required to cultivate a peaceful work environment. As with many things in life that are complex and important, before you can reach a solution, understanding conflict in the workplace must come first. Getting to know the mechanisms of conflict, how it works, what sparks it, how to spot warning signs of it, and what unmet underlying needs it reveals is far more important than simply knowing how to solve a conflict in a workplace.
Understanding conflict in the Workplace
When you begin understanding conflict in the workplace, your approach to resolution will become more holistic and long-lasting. Simply solving issues as they arise may be effective in the short-term, but you may start to notice that it acts as the equivalent of a band-aid. Getting a deeper understanding of the underlying issues allows you to address the roots of the issues which decreases the chances of them growing back again later. Here are some ways to get more engaged at understanding conflict in the workplace:
Be Directly Engaged
Among the most common steps to manage conflict in the workplace include open and effective communication, and this starts at the top. Organizational conflict frequently arises in environments where communication is muffled or missing altogether. Leadership can model effective communication by creating an open door policy that allows for two-way communication loops, not only demonstrating successful uses of conversation, but also giving management a direct line of insight to the active company culture. Are you hearing about tension between teams? Are you noticing passive aggressive language between employees? Are there communication breakdowns where there needs to be collaboration? Leaders may not know this if they stay behind closed doors, but the solutions become much more manageable once engagement begins.
Increase Emotional Intelligence
Understanding conflict in the workplace starts with understanding the psychology behind conflict, which includes your own emotional reactivity. What types of behaviors from others in a work environment may trigger a negative reaction from you? How do you react when provoked? Getting to know yourself in this way is not only helpful in allowing you to empathize with your employees so you can understand what’s happening when conflict arises, it can also help you minimize your own reactivity when managing the conflict. The last thing your team needs is your own emotions, especially aggression in the workplace, escalating an already tricky situation.
Enhance Team Skills
Conflict resolution among employees should be discussed and encouraged so that leadership doesn’t gatekeep all of the effective skills. If we know that workplace conflict is inevitable, there’s no need to avoid training your team to be prepared. Communication skills, de-escalation training, conflict resolution and more can all arm your team to feel more confident and reduce conflict overall by preparing them to be ready for when it does.
Understanding conflict in the workplace is important for anyone in charge of leading a team. Knowing what underlies conflict and how secondary emotions may be taking over can provide you with the right tools for tending to the root of the issue. Get support from the conflict experts who can fill you with a robust education on resolution and teamwork. Contact Pollack Peacebuilding Systems today to get the right solutions for your professional goals.