JEM Management Training

The key to managing conflict

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Life is full of conflict. People have different viewpoints, opinions, approaches, ideas, strategies, and tastes. None of them are good or bad, just different. Many people attach a negative perception to conflict but in itself, it’s just relates to difference and can lead to very positive outcomes.

 

By seeing conflict as a positive opportunity, we can:

  • expand our thinking,
  • widen our experience,
  • work more effectively with others,
  • get better outcomes.

So, what is the key to managing conflict?

The key is simply to see things from the other party’s perspective or take on a wider perspective. You don’t have to agree with the other party’s perspective, rationale or approach, just acknowledge it. Doing this will not make the 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 will be more cooperative as a result.

Managing conflict is complex and involves many other skills such as solution based thinking, flexibility, objectivity, creativity and influencing skills. Being able to appreciate and respect other people’s thinking and decisions is a good first step and will often be the key to open the door to new and better options.

Let’s take an example. The conversation goes something like this:

Chara: I think this approach will keep us on budget and it’s easy to implement

Ben: Yes, but it won’t permanently fix the problem, so there’s no point

Chara: Of course, there’s a point, at least it will give us an interim fix

Ben: But why invest all the time and effort if we then have to change the plan later?

Chara: Look, it’s better than nothing and you don’t have an alternative…

This interaction is going nowhere, with neither party wanting to concede or understand the other’s perspective.

A better way to approach the conflict would be for Ben and Chara to stop battling, acknowledge each other’s viewpoints, ask questions, and listen.

Instead, the conversation might go something like this:

Chara: I think this approach will keep us on budget and it’s easy to implement

Ben: I can see it does have some advantages. What do you think might get in the way of its success?

 

Ben: But why invest all the time and effort if we then have to change the plan later?

Chara: You think we’d be wasting our time in the long term. How else do you think we can address the issue?

In reality, the other person may not demonstrate good conflict resolution skills themselves or enlighten you as to their thinking, even with the most effective questioning. There are numerous tactics that you can adopt to get people to see things your way but the first step, if possible, is always gaining an understanding of where they’re coming from.

Try this tactic next time you’re frustrated with someone else’s approach, can’t understand a decision or are arguing with your teenager. It will, make a huge difference.

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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