There are many kinds of conflicts that happen in the workplace and at home that can impact an employee’s wellbeing both professionally as well as personally. This in turn, can affect all areas of a person’s life. Knowing what conflict is and how to manage through situations can be helpful for a person’s overall wellbeing.
Some Common Types of Conflict:
• Disagreements over roles and responsibilities or who should be doing something
• Disagreements over policy or how things should be done
• Conflicts of personality and style between coworkers, managers or family relationships
Common Ways That People often Deal with Conflict:
• Avoid the conflict
• Deny the conflict and wait until it goes away
• Change the subject
• React emotionally
• Blame others or make excuses
All of these responses are non-productive and some of them are actually destructive. This is why learning to manage conflict is so important.
Effect on Work Relationships
The workplace is a system of relationships and has many different features such as teamwork, quality, morale and respect for coworkers and mangers. When conflict is handled well, there is a positive effect on relationships. When they are not, these factors can deteriorate. No one is born knowing how to resolve conflicts. Conflict resolution is a set of skills that anyone can learn. Two important skills are: active listening and conflict de-escalation skills.
- Active Listening
Active listening is a valuable skill for resolving conflicts because it enables you to demonstrate that you understand what another person is saying and how he or she is feeling about it. Active listening means restating, in your own words, what the other person has said. Active listening is a way of checking whether your understanding is correct. It also demonstrates that you are listening and that you are interested and concerned. It feels good when another person makes an effort to understand what you are thinking and feeling. It creates good feelings about the other person and makes you feel better about yourself. Restating what you’ve heard, and checking for understanding, promotes better communication and produces fewer misunderstandings. Responding with active listening has a calming effect in an emotional situation.
- Conflict De-escalation
Everyone has been in an argument that has escalated. Before you know it, it’s blown out of proportion. There are some important actions that will help you deescalate a conflict such as:
- Stick with “I” statements and avoid “you” statements
- Avoid name-calling and put-downs
- Soften your tone
- Take a time-out
- Acknowledge the other person’s point of view
- Avoid defensive or hostile body language (rolling eyes, crossing arms, tapping foot)
Other Tips for Managing Conflict:
Remember that conflict is natural and happens in every type of relationship. Since conflict is unavoidable we must learn to manage it. Conflict is a sign of a need for change and an opportunity for growth, new understanding, and improved communication. Conflict can not be resolved unless it is addressed with the appropriate individual(s).
Be a calming agent
Regardless of whether you are being a sounding board for a friend or you are dealing with your own conflict, your response to the conflict can escalate or decrease the intensity of the problem. To be calming, provide an objective or neutral point of view.
This requires that each person stop placing blame and take ownership of the problem. Make a commitment to work together and listen to each other to solve the conflict.
Agree to disagree
Each person has a unique point of view and rarely agrees on every detail. Being right is not what is important.
Focus on the future
In conflict we tend to remember every single thing that ever bothered us about that person. People in conflict need to vent about the past but they often dwell on the past. Often the best way to take ownership of the problem is to recognize that regardless of the past, you need to create a plan to address the present conflict and those that may arise in the future.
When problem solving be very specific. For example if you are defining a new policy or procedure make sure that everyone fully understands each point that is written down. Clarify ambiguous terms that each person may interpret differently.
Your HumanaCare EAP can help with counselling, coaching and resources to support building healthy relationships at home and at work.
Access our member portal at www.humanacare.com/associum for resources such as:
- Managing Conflict at Work and at Home (Recorded Webinar)
- The Dynamics of Healthy Relationships (Recorded Webinar)