JEM Management Training

The key to de-escalating conflict

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Many people dislike managing conflict in the workplace and will avoid confrontation at all costs, primarily because they are afraid of the other parties’ reaction or response. Many believe they won’t be able to handle the negative reaction that might arise in the workplace. ‘What if they get angry/burst into tears/become defensive/get nasty etc?’ ‘What if the relationship suffers as a result?’ Hence, they avoid.

So, what can we do to manage conflict if it happens?

Using conflict resolution strategies to de-escalate a conflict is vital. Conflict resolution skills will increase your confidence to address workplace conflicts early. If we nip things in the bud, they are less likely to blow up and therefore need to be de-escalated. It is important to avoid triggers to conflict escalation such as:

  • Putting people under time pressure
  • Using aggressive or apathetic body language, tone of voice or correspondence
  • Appearing not to be listening/interested
  • Lacking empathy
  • Using sarcastic or reactionary statements
  • Keeping people waiting

If things have escalated, one conflict management technique that can help is the 3 R’s

Recognise   Listen and empathise

Re-frame    Find common ground or something to agree with

Resolve        Find a solution. Provide options and choices

In terms of conflict resolution strategies, the top 3 are empathetic listening, finding commonality and having a solution focus.

Recognise – Demonstrating that you’re listening and taking the other parties’ perspective seriously is paramount. You don’t have to agree with their perspective, rationale or approach, just acknowledge it. Doing this will not make a workplace conflict magically disappear, but it will pave the way towards a solution, compromise or next step. It will help break down barriers because the other person feels heard and validated, and therefore they are more likely be cooperative as a result. Eg. “I appreciate it can be frustrating when you have to wait on important information”

Re-frame – Finding something to agree with or commonality takes a workplace conflict from being ‘me against you’ to ‘us against the issue’. It creates a feeling that we’re both on the same side. Eg. “I’m the same, I hate having to wait on information” or “We’re both trying to do our best here”

Resolve – The sooner you can get out of the problem and into the solution, the easier it is to move forward. Just by showing willing to try and resolve the issue, you minimize conflict escalation. Ask questions to invite the other party to be part of the solution too eg. “How would you like to resolve this?”

There are other conflict resolution tools and techniques but certainly the 3 R’s are a great combination for your tool box of skills.

If you’d like more information or training on managing conflict, contact jill on 1300 850 959

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JEM Management Training

JEM Management Training designs and delivers flexible, in-house management training courses to help  organisations in Perth engage their staff fully in the workplace.

As time is often limited, JEM Training offers flexible half-day management training courses which focus on a specific area of management expertise. These short courses build upon each other over a period of time, chosen by you, to provide ongoing management development.

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