It takes skill to learn how to deal with workplace conflicts even for those trivial misunderstandings among employees. These skills are simple but they are not learned and used well by most of us as we grow up. Especially for managers, being in their position, they must understand the two essential areas in learning conflict management skills: conceptual aspect and skill competence aspect.
Conceptual skills pertain to an individual’s knowledge of the causes, styles, strategies, and ways in managing conflict. Knowing how and why conflicts develop, when it normally happens, and how to resolve it are important concepts for conflict resolution. Skill competence is the acquisition of skills needed in conflict management. Communication skill is an essential ability considering that conflict is primarily verbal in nature. Negotiation and diplomatic skills are also needed to resolve a conflict.
Learning and using these skills is not just applicable for managers. If employees also take efforts to enhance these abilities, conflicts in the workplace will turn out to be healthy and effectively resolved.
This ability is one of the most fundamental among all skills. Particularly for conflict resolution, a person should first learn and enhance communication ability. Two of the basic communication skills required in dealing with conflict productively are active listening and effective questioning techniques.
In the process of improving communication skills, you have to learn how to speak your mind and heart. Allowing yourself to openly express what you think and feel will pave way for getting an answer to your concerns instead of just being indirect or passive toward your colleagues.
As mentioned earlier, active listening is a very important skill in generating productive conflicts. Listening means understanding what is being said and how it is being said. Listening is not just about preparing for your rebuttal but focusing on what the other party has to say.
During moments of conflict, strong feelings come out. This is normal as long as these emotions are expressed properly and appropriately, making sure that there is no intent to attack the other party. If you appear destructive in your manner of conveying your feelings, you run the risk of getting negative results that will adversely affect both parties. Apart from emotions, stay rational and always aim at resolving the issue in expressing your viewpoints.
Keep the communication line professional and healthy by refraining from harmful and condescending statements. During the interaction, show interest in the ideas of the other party by asking open-ended questions. Asking questions also helps clarify certain points.
Lastly, effective communication is a two-way process: listening as the other person talks and vice-versa. Every conflict results in a positive outcome with this manner of communication.
Being diplomatic means possessing the ability to create good relationships and finding a practical, workable solution in terms of conflict management. It is a skill that requires a high level of understanding and maturity in facing disputes. An individual can become diplomatic by showing tact and confidence.
As a tactful person, you know what to say and what not to; especially if you know that it will offend the other party. The goal is to maintain a good working relationship despite the conflict. You employ diplomacy by not jumping to hasty conclusions, more so if it will not benefit both conflicting parties.
When applied to conflicts especially at work, negotiation skill helps both parties come to a common ground or an agreement. When negotiating, learn how to separate people from the problem, so personal attacks are not tolerated. Furthermore, dwell on the interests and not on the positions since we may have different interests that should be addressed.
For example, when the issue of the conflict is about revising the company policy, management may take the stand on pushing for a tighter sanction on certain offenses but the employees may find it too restrictive. But when it comes to interests, both parties may have various ways of addressing the subject depending on the position they stand. Finally, when negotiating, learn to develop optional solutions that would possibly meet the interests of both sides. Brainstorming helps in gathering brilliant ideas.
These conflict resolution skills are developed with experience and proper use. Regardless of the type of conflict employees are facing, it can be handled smoothly through the application of these skills.