Conflict Resolution Strategies In The Workplace

For the success of an organization, teamwork is integral. The world’s most successful businesses undoubtedly have a formula that is sewn into their corporate social fabric to mitigate conflict. It’s a fact, when people work together in the same environment, (physical and now even more so virtual) on the same projects etc the chance of encountering workplace conflict increases.

Having an early intervention resolution plan in place is highly effective. Corporate conflict resolution protocol wards off the chances that the damaging effects of toxicity linger and conflict culture taking a stronghold in the workplace.  Conflict festering most often impacts productivity and increases the likelihood of costly mistakes. Conflict also causes stress, sick days, performance inefficiencies and loss of talent.

To reduce conflict a best practice is positive communication and understanding what others are declaring. The Urban Rez Solutions definition of good communication is; message sent, message received and message understood. It has been noted that the reason behind increasing workplace stress is that some team members don’t understand the message being sent and therefore the message sent is misconstrued.  When miscommunication occurs, people on the receiving end of the message often interpret the message as being imposed and this opens up the flood gates for conflict to begin.

Recent studies have shown that using “You” statements when something has gone wrong in the workplace can be highly adversarial.  The person on the receiving end of the “You” statement can feel targeted and solely responsible if “You” messages are thrown around haphazardly.  E.g. “You were responsible; You always make excuses; You never admit you’re wrong”.  The list goes on.  ‘You’ statements can definitely take their toll and ultimately make people receiving them defensive, thus creating a controversial atmosphere.

Making a shift from ‘You to I or We’

The best thing about ‘I’ or we statements is that it will help the sender describe their feelings to the receiver and when used tactfully won’t lay blame.  In fact difficult conversations can be had much easier when the burden is shared even if the cause can be linked to a specific individual.   E.g. “How can we work out this issue together”? Instead of, “How are you going to work out this issue?  When people feel they are not targeted but supported and not alone, they are less likely to react in an adversarial manner. People who feel that the burden is shared and it’s not solely their responsibility are often more open to exploring solutions for the problem. E.g. “I think we can work out this issue”.

Validating the feelings of the sender using ‘I or we statements’ without finger pointing also makes for a less hostile environment.  E.g. “I feel frustrated when we don’t meet our deadlines”. As opposed to, “You frustrate me when you don’t meet the deadline”.

It’s important to note that being cognizant of your tone when relaying your feelings/message can impact the potential for conflict.

Bottom line

To mitigate workplace conflicts make sure to incorporate positive communication and do not forget to add the “I or We”.

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