July 21, 2017

3 Tools to Help You Master the Art of Conflict Resolution

"Picture of two people going in conflict resolution going in different directions"

Are you going in different directions and avoiding the elephant in the room?

In the last 11 years of working with conflict resolution and leadership coaching for executives and their teams, I have never met a group of people that did not have some type of conflict going on inside their company.

Conflict Resolution is Tough.

Conflict  is inevitable and to conflict resolution is not an easy task.  As a matter of fact, I believe conflict resolution is getting tougher, but resolving conflict is what can actually help us get to the truth of a situation, can be a stimulus for creativity and can make teams stronger…but only if handled correctly.

Today, I want to leave you with 3 very quick tools which can help you with conflict resolution (believe me…the fear of conflict rests with most people…no one likes conflict and most people don’t want to address it).

Conflict Resolution Tips:

1.  Understand why the conflict exists in the first place.  The reasons may include:

  • A person  feels misunderstood
  • Something was said that was hurtful, and a person is harboring a grudge
  • Two or more people have different values and/or beliefs about an issue
  • A person is just unhappy and always wants to “stir the pot”
  • Needs are not being met
  • Differing communication styles (there are four basic communication styles:  Dominance, Inspirational, Conscientious and Supportive) and these styles can butt heads constantly if not recognized
  • Different career and life goals
  • Low company morale
  • People are simply going in very opposite directions in life
  • Skewed perceptions
  • A “don’t ask, don’t complain, don’t open your mouth” policy
  • Confusion about an issue
  • Your company has a “pecking order” and everyone knows it
  • Playing favorites

Once you understand the root of the conflict, you can then begin to address it on an individual basis.

2.  Let your team know that you are going to be meeting with everyone individually for a discussion on how to make your team stronger. Sit down one on one with each team member and say something like this:

“John…you know, I have noticed that our team seems to keep butting heads on a lot of issues and we seem to get nowhere.  We leave meetings angry and without any clear direction, and I am here to take responsibility for this constant state of conflict we are living with.  While I encourage conflict and debate, it seems that we are ending up with a lot of hurt feelings and people are starting to shut down.  I want to talk to you about how you view conflict resolution and see where you stand or how you are feeling about all.  Tell me a bit about your needs, goals and desires.  I would like to know what you feel is working for you and about anything you feel you need that you are not getting on the team.”  (You are digging here to find out what may be the hot spot for this person).

As you talk with each team member, make a few notes.  Your goal here is to look for a repeating pattern of a need not being met, skewed perceptions, differing personality styles or values which are not aligned.

3.  Once you have completed each one on one private conversation, meet with your team to discuss your view of the most common thread which came out of your individual conversations.  WITH YOUR TEAM, come up with a solution on how to go about the conflict resolution process using just one issue which will have the biggest impact on improving the team conflict.  This may be a plan to address the emotional intelligence of the team or communication styles.   I do want to repeat…you don’t want to stop conflict and debate altogether…they will help your team be more creative and growth oriented.   You do, however, want to improve any type of conflict which may be stopping your team from moving forward.

After the above three steps, where do you go with conflict resolution?

After step 3, it may be important for your team to engage in some type of team leadership coaching to work on moving the action forward.  If  conflict resolution something your team is interested in pursuing, please feel free to contact me for more information.

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