In a group of people working together with varying personalities and opinion, sooner or later, a conflict will arise. These may be because the persons involved see the situation differently, or because they can’t agree. There are many reasons why issues occur. But this is not necessarily bad; conflict can be productive—when handled properly!
Ways to Handle Conflict
Identify the source of conflict.
Why did the problem occur in the first place? Before you go dealing with the situation, identify first why it happened or where it came from. There are different sources of conflict; it could be interpersonal, organization, change-related, or caused by external factors.
Look beyond the situation.
Often, it is the perception of the event that causes a problem. A simple comment may be perceived the wrong way causing anger to fester, eventually leading to an issue. Talk with each person involved and listen carefully. The source of the problem might be a minor problem that occurred months before, but the level of stress has grown to the point where the parties involved began attacking each other personally instead of addressing the real problem.
Ask for suggestions.
After thoroughly understanding the situation, ask the parties involved on how they could resolve the problem. Asking them for suggestions on how to resolve the conflict allows cooperation. Question the parties to get their ideas: “How can you make things better (between you)?”
Find a compromise.
Follow through the solution that both parties agree with. As a mediator, you have to be an active listener, aware of every verbal nuance, as well as a good reader of body language. Make sure that whatever solution you decided to implement is really the solution that both parties agree wholeheartedly.
After resolving the problem, what’s next? You need to have constant communication, not with just the parties previously involved, but with your whole team. If you reflect back upon conflicts you or your team have encountered in the past, you’ll quickly recognize many of them resulted from a lack of information, poor information, no information, or misinformation. Don’t let that happen again (as much as possible)!
Having conflict or dealing with conflict can be stressful. If you follow these tips, along with avoiding making common conflict management mistakes, you’re good to go!