Ability to collaborate with others and manage conflict skillfully and proactively
What is it?
Conflict is a normal part of every relationship. It happens when two or more people cannot reconcile their different perspectives, opinions or ideas about any given topic. Conflict Management is effectively managing this differences to avoid any unnecessary obstacles and thus help create a productive work environment.
Why is it important?
At best, sharing of divergent perspectives helps groups gain a more accurate and nuanced understanding of just about any topic. Without effective conflict management, differences of opinion can turn into ingrained personality conflicts or unnecessary obstacles. This can, in turn, threaten the cohesion of the group, commitment of team members, or the effectiveness of individuals and the team as a whole.
- Address Unresolved Conflict
First, examine the quality of your work relationships. Are there any underlying conflicts or tension? We can hold grudges and feel resentment sometimes without even realizing it, yet both of those states negatively impact our relationships. We need to own up to our feelings and deal with them. That might mean choosing to let something go, or it might mean initiating direct communication about the interpersonal tension that exists. For example, you could say something like, “Bob, I know we haven’t seen eye to eye on a lot of issues, but I respect you and want to figure out how to work together more effectively for the sake of our department.” Most people will be very responsive to your offer of reconciliation.
- Encourage Healthy Conflict
Second, establish healthy culture around conflict and debate. While some people can be insensitive and not realize they are coming across aggressively, others can be conflict avoidant and take things too personally. Managers need to not only reinforce the importance of debate and deliberation but also suggest some ground rules. At your next team or staff meeting, share some specific ground rules for discussion. Introduce the idea that vigorous debate and differences in opinion are important, but also suggest that comments should never be personal and that any hard feelings cannot spill over into future meetings.
- Manage Disagreement
Finally, supervise disagreements and discussions. Controversy and debate is normal. A simple question such as, “Who should be responsible for this task?” can evoke a multitude of perspectives and differences of opinion. Conversations can get heated and team members can take it out on each other. Confront those who are not playing fair or who do not get along well with others. Coach them to deal with disagreement maturely in order to serve the greater good of the team or organization.