Most people do not like conflict. Many of us try to avoid it even at the expense of silencing our own inner voice. But sometimes, depending on our mood, we may end up projecting feelings of anger onto others and therefore seek conflict as an unconscious way of blaming others for our own uncomfortable feelings. Regardless of whether we choose to inflict, avoid or engage in conflict, it is inevitable that it will happen at work. Being able to resolve conflict is part of true leadership. I recommend you apply Don Miguel Ruiz’s Four Agreements when you experience conflict at work. They are:
Be Impeccable With Your Word.
Don’t Take Anything Personally.
Don’t Make Assumptions.
Always Do Your Best.
With these four agreements in mind, here are seven steps to resolving work conflict:
1. TALK WITH THE OTHER PERSON
Never make assumptions. Always start by talking to the other person. Talk with no other agenda than to simply inquire and gain understanding of their point of view.
2. FOCUS ON BEHAVIOUR AND EVENTS, NOT PERSONALITIES
Too often we judge ourselves and others based on personality traits rather than objectively looking at the events and behaviours of the situation. It is essential to look at the facts and not the personality; otherwise the conflict resolution will become biased.
3. LISTEN CAREFULLY
Listening carefully takes a lot of practice. I sometimes find myself formulating responses, rebuttals and judgments while the other person is talking. When this happens, I am no longer truly listening to the other person. If this happens for you, notice it. Notice if you are open and receptive to what the other person has to say. Listen without judgment, without preconceptions and ensure you listen carefully.
4. IDENTIFY POINTS OF AGREEMENT AND DISAGREEMENT
Only after you have listened carefully, write a list of the points of agreement and disagreement. It is important that both parties are aware of these points.
5. PRIORITIZE THE AREAS OF CONFLICT
The saying “choose your battles” is something that is of most relevance with conflict resolution at work. It is extremely important to prioritize what you wish to resolve. Otherwise, other conflicts and personality issues could interfere with the process. Sometimes resolving the most pertinent conflict can remove the tension from secondary conflicts.
6. DEVELOP A PLAN TO WORK ON EACH CONFLICT
Once you have prioritized your areas of conflict create a plan on how to work out each of the conflicts. The plan will be different for each conflict and can only be created after the points of agreement have been clearly laid out.
7. FOLLOW THROUGH ON YOUR PLAN
I have a friend who manages many projects at work, and his philosophy is that which gets measured gets done. Measure your plan with action steps and follow through on each step.
Try this the next time you have a conflict at work and feel free to reach out to me. If you have your own experiences of conflict resolution, please share in the comments. I am certain that our readers would love to hear from you.
Since 1994, Rishi Deva, founder and CEO of RishiVision and entrepreneurial coach, has empowered thousands of businesses. Rishi has an MBA in marketing and entrepreneurial studies and a BBA in accounting. He has spent nearly twenty years coaching, consulting, managing and supporting thousands of businesses from new startups to active global leaders.