Dealing with Conflict in the Workforce

Best Method for Resolving Conflict in the Workplace

The empathetic approach. The best method for constructive reconciliation of a disagreement is empathetic resolution, which preserves the relationship and deepens rapport, providing opportunities for growth and change for both. Empathy strengthens commitment toward beliefs, improves self-esteem and confidence and allows the participants to assume responsibility for problem-solving and decision-making.

Effecting reconciliation or resolution usually involves confrontation. Confrontation is an event most people choose to avoid, however, it can be a positive step toward ending the disagreement and repairing the relationship. Preparation is a key element.

.Take time to think through the situation and your feelings about it. Write down what you feel and want to say to the other person. Define what is negotiable and what is not about your position. By going slowly, you can minimize gut reactions, which tend to be negative because they arise from a self-defensive posture. It may help to talk it over with an impartial third party, if confidentiality can be maintained. Be sure to tell the third party you are brainstorming and not looking for advice or solutions.

.Decide if there is a problem, and whose it is, and if you want to work toward a resolution. Keep in mind there are those situations where an effective solution involves walking away from the problem. With this choice, you may need to acknowledge that you cannot always make work flow at an even, pleasant rate, but you can learn to relax amid stress. Take charge of your daily life and add stress reducers.

.Schedule an adequate amount of uninterrupted time in a non-threatening place away from the work environment for a meeting. In preparation for the meeting, keep in mind these principles:

Negative feelings exist before negative actions. It is necessary to deal with emotions, as well as behavior. A popular saying holds that people do not care about what you know until they know that you care.

Unmet needs are always the most important needs at any given moment. People act consistently with their beliefs, therefore, it is helpful to examine what the other party views as reality.

People resist change. Most agreements involve asking for change, yet change threatens the most basic of instincts, survival. You cannot change another, but you can build your own strength and professionalism, and defuse your own stress in difficult times.

Cooperation flows from respect. Poor working relationships exist when there is a lack of trust, support and respect. Even when you disagree, you can still respect the other person. Look for something positive in that person and build on that.

When you meet, observe these ground rules:

· History is history, deal with current problems only

· Limit the confrontation to one problem at a time

· Meet in a neutral location, preferably at a table

· Avoid interrupting each other

· Agree to seek solutions acceptable to both parties.

Throughout the meeting, listen. Listening is the most powerful communication tool we possess. It allows gathering of information, defuses emotional situations, demonstrates caring and compassion.

Avoid the impulse to argue mentally while the other person is speaking. The average speaking rate is one hundred and forty words per minute, while the average thinking rate is twelve hundred words per minute. (3) When your attitude toward the speaker is already flawed by conflict, you may be tempted to use the difference between thinking and speaking time to compete with the speaker’s message. Still that internal voice and focus on the other’s words. Listen for unspoken as well as spoken words.

Before you ever speak, you have conveyed a message through gesture, posture and facial expression. Be alert to the statements you are making with your body. Lean slightly forward with arms open, but not overly extended. Be certain your body language matches your words. Congruent actions and messages build respect and trust. Evidence of active listening includes upright posture, eye contact, nodding of the head, calm facial expression, hands at rest or gesturing openly, lack of fidgeting and squirming, appropriate sounds and acknowledgments.

Every part of the body is involved in listening. Understanding a message involves relying on only seven percent of the actual words used, thirty-eight percent of the tone of voice and pace, and fifty-five percent on facial expression and body language.

Listen with the eyes, to physical cues. Even though sitting at a table masks the view of the lower half of the body, the use and position of the hands, head and face can speak volumes. A social smile may reveal weakness, lack of interest or even hostility. Too much eye contact expresses hostility, while too little may indicate low self-confidence or nervousness. How is the speaker using distance, posture, gestures? Placement of the arms can reveal openness and willingness to participate in problem-solving.

Listen with the ears to vocal cues in inflection, emphasis, volume, pitch, tone, pace, rhythm and use of silences. Listen with the mind to discover the intention of the speaker. Note the sequence of ideas, detail and organization of thoughts. Listen with the body to send physical responses which encourage the speaker. Listen with the voice by asking reflective questions, repeating to clarify what you have heard, and summarizing frequently to keep on track.

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