Conflict is a natural result of diversity and people willing to stand up for their own ideas. How conflict is handled can turn a differing point of view into either a productive tool or a festering problem. Dealing with conflict effectively is a high art and a valuable skill.
As a manager or coach, a supervisor or team member, the ability to handle conflict—both internal and external—is essential to effective job performance. Conflict resolution skills are learnable. Once your firm leaders have them in their repertoire and teach them to other key players, conflict becomes a manageable behavior.
Several effective ways to handle conflict are to:
• Neutralize it – Restate what is said so that each side can hear the other without feeling accused or offended.
• Reframe it – Define which areas of discord will be the focus of the conflict resolution process.
• Add to, or subtract from, what the disputants describe in their original positions.
Steps in handling conflict involve:
• Plan your session(s) in advance exactly as you would a team meeting.
• Gain commitment from the people in the dispute to make an effort to solve the problem together.
• Build trust and cooperation.
• Allow venting of strong emotions before bringing the people together.
• Accept and legitimize emotions.
• Build small agreements.