Conflict is bound to happen in the workplace and when it does, it can be tempting to sweep it under the rug and hope that it eventually goes away. However, this is one of the worst things leaders can do. Unresolved conflict can lead to anger, frustration, emotional turmoil, decreased productivity, and increased turnover. That’s why it is so important for leaders to work to find creative approaches to conflict resolution in the workplace. Here are a few things leaders can do so they are prepared to handle problems when they arise.
Identify the source of the problem
Each of the involved parties will have their own version of what is causing the problem so it’s important to listen to each side and give them a chance to speak. Both parties should feel validated, so give the same amount of time and listen carefully to each side. The point is to allow both parties to express their views without being interrupted so they both feel heard. As the leader, it’s a good idea to take some notes so you can better understand the situation. After all, it’s difficult to come up with a solution if you don’t understand the problem first.
Brainstorm Solutions Together
Rather than sending both parties away and you coming up with a solution, invite the two parties to work together to brainstorm their own possible solutions. There are likely multiple solutions that can help solve the problem so look for ways where both parties can get at least some of what they want. This will help open the lines of communication while also promoting collaboration between the two parties.
Provide Communication Training
Oftentimes, conflicts arise as a result of miscommunication. When two parties are not communicating their needs effectively, disagreements and misunderstandings can arise and the situation may escalate. One great way to resolve workplace conflict is to offer communication workshop training with a qualified coach who can provide de-escalation strategies and mediation techniques. This is a proactive approach that can help prevent future conflicts.
Find Common Ground
People are naturally programmed to approach conflict by debating the best solution. This results in two possible solutions: one that appeases one side and one that appeases the other. Creative conflict resolution happens when both parties are instead encouraged to find common ground. Instead of focusing on where they don’t agree, begin the conversation by focusing on where they do. This will drive the discussion toward reaching a solution rather than an argument.