Finding yourself in the middle of a conflict can be tricky and just plain awkward. As important as it is to diffuse the situation, it’s also important to assess where the conflict stems from.
There are certain attitudes and approaches that should be avoided and ones that have a proven track record of working effectively. For example, DO acknowledge that conflicts are inevitable and DO actively listen to all perspectives. DON’T avoid the conflict hoping it will go away on its own, and DON’T meet separately with the individuals involved to discuss what happened. The meeting must include all parties involved to avoid a ‘he says, she says’ type of scenario.
Process.st, a company specializing in checklist and procedure solutions, offers a comprehensive resolution checklist to guide leaders and employees in dealing with work place conflicts. The list includes:
- Empathize with individuals throughout the process (note that empathy is not sympathy)
- Encourage open communication
- Meet with the antagonists together
- Make sure all participants discuss and commit
- Keep an open mind and be open to new solutions
- Believe that the antagonists are the only employees affected
- Focus on personality traits
- Interrupt or attack individuals during discussions
- Allow emotions to lead the conversation
- Impose your own personal values or beliefs
The checklist also offers a step-by-step process to follow when dealing with a conflict. It includes ways to identify the root cause and clarify the underlying problem; and ways to brainstorm solutions.
Their full resource can be accessed here.
Bottom line, the sooner we deal with a conflict situation, the sooner all employees can get on with their jobs. This sends a clear message to the team. It helps develop a culture that doesn’t allow conflict to fester nor enable team mates to practice passive aggressive behavior – a behavior that can demoralize the culture.