6 Strategies for Managing Conflict on the Job

Part of the Managing All-in-One For Dummies Cheat Sheet

Disagreements and differences are inevitable within a work team or organization. As a manager, your challenge is to lead team members by modeling and helping them learn new behaviors that resolve conflicts and maintain respectful working relationships in the process. Some great benefits can emerge from conflicts: creativity, richer solutions, and stronger teamwork, for example.

To reap benefits that stem from workplace conflict, don your leadership hat and put these constructive behaviors into practice:

  • Stay in control. Venting your frustration, spewing your anger, or throwing sarcastic barbs shows only that you're out of control and prevents you from inviting the cooperation of others.

  • Be direct, factual, and sincere. You have to express your concern or problem clearly and constructively so that others understand where you're coming from. Get to the point, state the facts as you know them, and speak with candor and respect.

  • Go to the source. A conflict is best resolved by addressing it face-to-face with the other party. Telling a third party or communicating by e-mail cannot replace the person-to-person conversation that's required for conflict resolution to work.

  • Get into problem-solving. So you have a conflict with another team member. Big deal! And you've worked out a solution with the other team member? Oh, now, that is the big deal. That a difference or disagreement exists between two or more people isn't newsworthy. The actions that are taken to hammer out a solution are worth others' attention.

  • Actively listen. Active listening is about showing that you care and working to understand what someone else truly means. When you become a great listener, you become a great communicator.

  • Assume that the other person means well. When you assume that the other person means well, you don't have to worry that someone's out to get you. You're free to deal with the actions and issues at hand.

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