Conflict is a normal, and even healthy, part of relationships. After all, people can‘t be expected to agree on everything all of the time. Under the surface of human beings lies a mosaic of hidden motivations and unexpressed emotions, so many times people do not communicate effectively and intentions become unclear. Everybody has a different personality and opinions and egos can lead to unhealthy competition.
Since relationship conflicts are inevitable, learning to deal with them in a healthy way is crucial. When conflict is mismanaged, it can harm the relationship. But when handled in a respectful and positive way, conflict provides an opportunity for growth, which ultimately strengthens the bonds of communication and the relationship.
HERE ARE SOME OF THE MAIN CAUSES OF CONFLICT:
• Differing Values
• Poor Communication
• Opposing Interests
• Weak Leadership
• Personality Conflicts
• Personal Problems
• Change Management
• High Stress Levels
It is important for conflict issues to be dealt with as soon as possible, because if they are swept under the carpet and ignored built-up resentment is usually an outcome. This creates edgy behavior and negative environments which has a detrimental effect on team spirit. Positivity gets affected, and as a result, team collaboration and performance declines.
Fortunately, there is a way to manage inevitable conflict and mitigate the damage. With just a little practice, managers and leaders can go a long way towards resolving conflicts by observing the following practices:
1. THE POWER OF LISTENING
Listening is the first place to begin and a place where most of us could improve with strengthening our listening capabilities. All parties involved in the dispute definitely have their own version, so everyone has to be given a voice and listened to. Once equal attention has been granted to all sides of the story, a better understanding of the nature of the conflict will become clear and win/win solutions are a lot easier to figure out.
2. ESTABLISH A COMMON GROUND
Before you start looking for solutions, it is advisable to arrange a meeting, in a neutral place, to gather all of the disputed parties. That way, each of them will get the opportunity to listen to the other party and be able to voice their side of
the story. This will help in expediting a solution to satisfy everyone concerned. It will also help to clarify any potential misunderstandings that may have lead to the conflict in the first place.
3. COMMUNICATION IS CRUCIAL
Working on communication skills and using open, transparent communication will avoid a lot of misunderstandings. Once a dispute has occurred it is important to uncover the underlying actions, words, emotions, motivations and influences that
led to the conflict in the first place. In actuality, there are no misunderstandings really, just a lack of communication!
4. NEVER TAKE SIDES
Being impartial and remaining neutral is the best thing to
do during conflicts. The worst thing to do is to appear to be understanding the perspective of one side more than the other. Taking sides can result in one side feeling defensive and resentful and unheard, so you need to remain unbiased to avoid worsening the situation. Before giving your perspective, it is important to hear both sides of the story so that everyone will feel they have been treated fairly.
5. THE SOONER, THE BETTER
Some people believe that ignoring an issue is a solution! However, sweeping things under the carpet will ultimately backfire and can result in an intensification of the situation. Conflicts don‘t magically go away; and even the most insignificant conflict can grow into something messy and complicated if it is left ignored. Resolving issues promptly and swiftly will save time and money. It is very important to boost the overall happiness of the employees and create a positive work environment, as this leads to increased performance and decreased turnover.
6. THE IMPORTANCE OF TEAMWORK
People need to be constantly reminded that what they can achieve together is far greater than what they can achieve alone. They need to be made fully aware of what it means to work collaboratively in a team and how important it is for everyone to be on the same page and working harmoniously towards the same goals. Differing needs and opinions are often at the heart of disputes. It is of vital importance to get people to understand that maintaining and strengthening relationships, rather than standing your ground and winning the argument, should always be the first priority. When the legitimacy of conflicting needs is examined in an environment of compassionate understanding and respect, it opens pathways to creative problem solving, and improved relationships. As a result mutual trust will grow and flourish.
Basically human beings enjoy collaborating and few people actually like the tension that naturally comes with conflict. It is important to value diversity and not to fear disagreements. Learning to share diverse opinions will enhance team spirit and result in group success. High performing teams are the engines that drive successful organizations and tremendous positive results can come from healthy conflict resolution. It enables people to value diversity, stretches teams to grow and takes everyone out of known comfort zones.