How Do You Deal With Conflict In The Workplace?

At one of the companies I worked for, a colleague hung two pairs of boxing gloves on his wall with the words “Conflict Resolution Kit” written beneath.

Although this was meant as a joke, I have come across numerous people who attempt to resolve issues in this way.

But in reality, fighting is just extending the conflict, it never resolves it. Even, if you win the fight, the conflict still remains, it might not be visible, but it’s there, and it will come back to the surface at some point, maybe not today, but it will come back.

To resolve conflict we need to come to an agreement, a real agreement, and the best way to do this is through a win-win solution.

Whenever it becomes win-lose, or lose-win, or worst of all l0se-lose, the conflict is never really resolved.

In my opinion, conflicts need to be confronted, but not in a confrontational way.

We need to sit down and discuss the conflicts openly, looking for resolution.

Conflicts are resolved through discussion, not through further conflict. You only need to look at the Arab-Israeli conflict to understand that further conflict will never resolve that problem.

The best way to be prepared for the discussion: I think we really need to understand the other person’s position; to try and put ourselves in their shoes; to try to understand what they are looking for; to try and find what they see as an acceptable compromise, and still feel that they have a win for themselves.

It is a negotiation, we need to understand what our walkaway point is, and the minimum that we can accept in order that we still see this as a win for us, as well.

If we can find something that we think they would genuinely find acceptable, and we know what our minimum requirements are then we should be able to propose something that we think will be acceptable to both parties.

We have to do this genuinely, we have to look for a 50/50 solution, not a 70/30 solution in our favour and still think of that as a win-win. It isn’t.

In any circumstances, 70/30 would at best be a WIN-win, and with this, there will remain some resentment or conflict. We need to be fair, and we need to be honest about what we want and what we really need.

Often when we are in conflict there is a lot of emotion involved, and making decisions when we are being emotional can be difficult, if not impossible.

In these circumstances, we may need to involve a mediator, someone who can look at things unemotionally, in order to propose a realistic win-win solution.

I always like to try and resolve conflict without resorting to a mediator, but this does require us to make compromises, and that’s not always easy.

I hope that this advice has been helpful, any feedback would be greatly appreciated.

Or tell me about a conflict you have been involved in, and how you resolved it.

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