When we look at different ways that conflict can arise at the workplace – and how quickly conflict can sometimes spread – it’s important to stay ahead of the curve. One way to do that is to understand what your default conflict management style is. This is especially necessary if you’re in a position of leadership and conflict management falls on your shoulders. You may benefit to answer this question: How do you handle conflict in the workplace?
When you’re asked: how do you handle conflict in the workplace, you might not know where to begin. Getting to know your style can help in a few ways. One way is that it identifies your strengths and challenges so that you can improve in necessary areas. But you won’t be perfect at conflict management, and chances are there’s someone else you can share the responsibility with. Knowing their style can be important too, so that you can each outsource each other for your strengths and step in to support each other where you’re less capable. Here are some different styles of conflict management that can inform this work:
This conflict management style has you putting your needs or desires on the back-burner for someone else’s. This can be especially helpful if you’re a manager just outside of the conflict because it will allow you to assess and address the needs of those who are struggling. They may be emotional and feel unheard, invalidated, and frustrated. By accommodating to each of them, you may find that their willingness to collaborate increases. However, if you’re directly involved in the conflict yourself, purely accommodating and putting your needs aside is not a healthy long-term strategy.
How do you handle conflict in the workplace? If you find yourself staying away from it, avoiding might be your style. This is when you evade the conflict entirely which might feel temporarily great for you, but it doesn’t help the issue at hand. If the conflict seems trivial, this method might actually help because it won’t fuel something small and create a larger issue. However, for the most part, avoiding conflict is not a healthy tactic for sustained peace. Better to tackle it in a healthy way before it spirals into something larger.
If you keep your focus on collaboration, you might be able to guide disputing parties to work together on a solution that meets all of their needs. This can help create long-lasting change because it isn’t advice being placed upon these employees but rather something they’re creating together. This gives them a sense of agency and power and helps them recognize that they have the ability to reach solutions without interventions from management.
Dealing with conflict in the workplace oftentimes comes with a compromise. But many people reject that notion and fight against it, trying simply to achieve only what they’ve set out to in the first place. By utilizing a compromising strategy, each party can find some solution that works for them all the while giving up a little piece to satisfy others. In the end, this helps avoid impasses or can create a temporary solution while other solutions get worked out.
If you need help dealing with conflict at work, reach out to Pollack Peacebuilding for support. We work with individuals and groups to collaborate on solutions to common interpersonal ruptures, helping colleagues and managers build positive foundations on which to reach shared goals.