Everything seems to go so well. Your team members are excited and enthusiastic about work. You all get along and work hard towards the common goals.
Then there comes that day when the first conflicts happen in the workplace, causing irritation and anger.
As a manager, having the right mindsets and skills can help you adopt effective workplace conflict resolution methods and keep a harmonic atmosphere in the workplace.
The 3 Positive Mindsets about Workplace Conflicts
The first step to mastering the art of conflict resolution is to prepare yourself and your team for it.
Adopt these mindsets to improve your conflict management, and encourage your employees to do the same.
1. Conflicts aren't scary
Conflicts are inevitable no matter how hard you try to avoid them. Since every individual is drastically different from each other, conflicts are bound to happen at some point.
Conflicts don’t necessarily mean a bad thing. Many times conflicts happen just because of the differences among different minds; not because one person is right and another is wrong.
So being scared of conflicts isn’t really the reaction you should have. Stressing over conflicts won’t help you, but even drown you further into problems.
Look on the bright side and keep yourself composed. You'll find better ways to resolve conflicts and appear much more competent in your employees' eyes.
2. Conflicts shouldn’t be avoided
It’s so frustrating to figure out a good solution for workplace conflicts, right? We get that. Conflicts are burdensome, stressful, and uncomfortable.
It may sound relieving to put off the arguments, or even to prevent them from happening at all. But while that saves you from not having to confront others, it also blocks you from examining the root of the problem.
Conflict avoidance implies acceptance of bad behaviors, and that disrupts the business immediately or eventually, said Kenneth Hekman, president of The Hekman Group, on Psychology Today.
Especially for leaders, conflict avoidance may be the cause for 6 bad things: strained communication, diminishing teamwork, lower productivity, compromised “customer experience”, employees leaving, and weakening brand value.
So saving yourself a little bit of trouble at the moment can cause you agony in the long run. Of course, we’re not telling you to pick a fight at every slight disagreement, but encouraging you to do so and do it in the right way when necessary.
3. Healthy conflicts should be welcomed
Sounds strange, isn’t it? Why would anyone want conflicts on top of their already stressful lives?
But you might. There are certain benefits healthy conflicts bring about, which you wouldn’t want to miss out on. Healthy conflicts lead to improved teamwork, mutual opportunities for growth, and better communication among colleagues.
On a personal level, not only do healthy conflicts be more open-minded, but they also improve your relationships with your staff. You wouldn’t want the frustration from conflict avoidance to build up, and one day explodes all over the place.
Just remember the keys to healthy conflicts: respect, moderation, and skills. Always pay respect to your employees, keep the heat moderate, and utilize your skills to keep your conflicts healthy and make the most out of them.
3 Must-Have Skills for Effective Workplace Conflict Resolution
The next step you need to do in your attempt at workplace conflict resolution is to adopt these 3 must-have skills and bring out the best conflict solver within you.
As the name suggests, active listening means to listen with full attention instead of just passively listening. Simple as it sounds, active listening can make a huge difference to both the listener and the speaker.
Active listening engages body gestures and verbal communication, showing signs of interest and attention to the speaker. As the listener, you can nod, you can smile, you can bend toward the speaker. Add in comments. Throw questions and exclamations. Try to remember and reflect on what the speaker’s said afterward.
Why does active listening matter? It matters because the speaker feels like their words are well appreciated and considered, and the listener puts in the effort to comprehend the other party. That's the foundation of any successful conflict resolution.
Of course, there are times what the speaker has to say isn’t really what you believe in, or you just can’t find a common ground with the speaker. In those cases, recall the necessity and benefits of resolving the conflict. Keep in mind that everyone’s mind is different, and it doesn’t hurt to try to understand the other’s perspectives.
Everyone appreciates being understood. Showing your understanding to your employees goes a long way in reaching common ground during the conflict.
So how can you show understanding towards your staff and colleagues during conflicts? The first and foremost thing is to mean it. You can’t force yourself to understand the other person if you don’t truly want to. People can tell whether you are truthful and if they don’t feel so, the effort is wasted.
The next thing is to keep your assumption and judgment minimal. You’d want to keep your mind very open in order to understand someone else. One good mindset for keeping your opinions down is to bear in mind the purpose of the conflict (for the greater good), and that both of you are working hard towards conflict resolution.
Another sign of being understanding is to avoid blaming others during the conflict. It may be your honest thought that the other has done wrong, but blatantly blaming them is the last thing you want to do when you are looking for their cooperation.
Having an understanding for your employees and colleagues is hard when you are in a conflict. But managing to do so greatly relieves the tension and leads the conflicts to better outcomes.
Last but not least, positivity is very much needed during any conflicts. According to Psychology Today, a conflict positive person welcomes and manages conflicts to maximize the benefits from them.
Your positivity can not only head the conflicts to better resolutions, but it can also show your professionalism. Positive people in a conflict are persuasive and capable of turning the conflict to their favor. Everyone will love the positivity you exude and the mood you bring.
So even when the conflict gets too heated or tiring, you should keep yourself actively listening and showing understanding to your staff and team members. You can freshen up the mood by a few jokes, a time-out, or bringing some refreshments for everyone.
Conflicts are an indispensable part of your work life. Conflicts, if done right, bring opportunities for mutual growth and better relationships in the workplace.
As a leader, workplace conflict resolution is one of the top priorities, so make sure that you pay attention and well prepare yourself for it. As long as you and your staff prepare the aforementioned mindsets and practice conflict resolution skills well—you’re good to go!
Read more about conflict resolution based on different personality types here.