All of us have been in a disagreement with a colleague at some point within our professional lives. So ‘conflict resolution’ is a necessary aspect of the workplace. Leaders should be appropriately skilled in resolution techniques to quickly prevent any escalation of issues. If left to fester there can be negative impact upon individuals, teams, organisations and ultimately any long-term success.
Equally, we also face conflict in our private lives and these can be disruptive upon every minute of the day.
QUESTION 1: How would your life look if you could resolve conflict on behalf of others and for yourself?
My favourite phrase is ‘solutions not problems’ and to resolve conflict this should be at the forefront of our minds and decision making.
As you can imagine, being a former police officer, I encountered conflict every day. The biggest challenge was getting people to step away from the emotion and think of a practical, realistic solution to the problem that wasn’t centred around victory or defeat.
I’ve learnt that conflict can differ greatly but remains independent of ‘status’. Because beyond common belief – even the most ‘successful’ of us suffer conflict which can lower mood, reduce self-esteem, disrupt progress, heighten anxiety, and induce depression at home or at work.
Some years ago, in the aftermath of a particularly volatile incident I was dealing with, a wise, elderly voice said, “Peace is not the absence of conflict, but the ability to cope with it”. Now, I’m sure that wasn’t made up on the spot – but it summed up the moment. Perfectly.
QUESTION 2: So, what can we do to coach ourselves and others through periods of conflict?
- Listen First. Talk Second
- Listen to the person or people who are in conflict.
- Allow silences to happen.
- Talk about solutions.
- Draw In The Net
- Recognise the need to take responsibility and pull everyone in.
- Set some ground rules and set the tone.
- Hear all sides of the story to get a full understanding.
- Leave The Car In Neutral
- Don’t take sides.
- Avoid victory and defeat.
- Pursue fair and reasonable solutions.
- Do Not Delay
- Recognise there is an issue and how best to deal with it.
- You must ACT so to address the issue without delay otherwise it will fester.
- Review what’s happening and constantly adapt to remain focused on solutions not problems.
“You see, in life and work, there are no problems, just lots of solutions” Oliver Martin, Life Consultant 2018