Identify and Minimis Personal Conflict
We are going to look at ways to Identify and Minimize Personal Conflict. Conflict is inevitable that is the first thing we need to understand before trying to manage conflict. I am surprised when people complain about the issues happening in their workplace or school, with a tone that suggests that they were expecting to be part of a team that does not experience conflict. This is why we need to learn how to Identify and Minimize Personal Conflict.
“An eye for an eye will only make the whole world blind.”
― Mahatma Gandhi
Although inevitable, conflict can be minimised, diverted and/or resolved
An essential part of building a relationship with your colleagues and supervisor is making sure that you present the needed information in a clear, precise and timely manner. An employee or student that reports to a senior has to do what is required from them and that will minimise some of the conflicts.
Relationship management is very important for any relationship to thrive, however, many things may bring conflict and hinder the relationship from being fruitful and productive.
What is conflict?
Conflict is a serious disagreement or argument, typically lasting for a long time or longer than expected or usual.
A conflict can be as small as a disagreement or as large as a war. It can start in one person, between two or more people, or between two or more groups.
J. H. Frost and W. W. Wilmot:
“An expressed struggle between at least two interdependent parties, who perceive incompatible goals, scarce rewards, interference from the other party in achieving their goals. They are in a position of opposition in conjunction with cooperation.”
Potential and Actual Conflict
Potential conflict situations occur when we are placed in a position where there is a great possibility of actual conflict arising. How we react to the specific situation and people involved will determine whether or not the conflict actually occurs.
We know that different people have different priorities and different styles in dealing with situations that may occur, but in general, human beings have certain characteristics that are very similar – even across gender, racial, and socioeconomic lines:
• People love to be agreed with
• People hate to be disagreed with
• People like other people who agree with them
• People dislike other people who disagree with them
• People who are good at resolving conflicts look for some point of agreement and use good people skills to get others to see a different point of view
Teachings for Handling Conflict
You should always try to follow these three laws when handling conflict:
• Respect – When teams are in conflict, respect is the most essential guideline members can follow. To show respect for team members, you should always consider their views and concerns legitimately. This respect should apply even during heated arguments when you disagree with their opinions.
Treating the other person with respect makes them less likely to become defensive. Respect also preserves a healthy team attitude and does not drain the team’s energy through lengthy, emotional battles.
• Present/future orientation – Committing to maintaining a present and future orientation helps teams stay focused on the issues at hand. Team members need to concentrate on how the conflicts they are experiencing can be resolved for the future benefit of the team.
To achieve this commitment, team members have to be willing to leave all past conflicts out of the discussion. Any events not relevant to accomplishing team goals that have occurred outside the team setting should be disregarded.
• Empathic listening – While trying to reach an agreement, it’s necessary that team members listen empathetically to each other. Listening empathetically requires that you try to understand the speaker’s emotional state and his or her perspective.
To gather all the information needed to understand another person’s point of view, you should be neutral while listening. Be open to the full meaning of the message; look for meaning beyond the words, such as non-verbal cues.
Effective Resolution of Conflict
How you approach resolving conflict will determine whether the conflict is ultimately advantageous to you and the other person. There are specific steps you can take to resolve conflict.
The following eight-step process provides a proven method by which to resolve conflict:
1. Acknowledge the conflict – The first step is to acknowledge that a conflict exists. Doing so as soon as the conflict arises prevents frustration from accumulating and keeps emotional reactions to a minimum. Acknowledgement of conflict usually brings a sense of relief for all involved. You and the other person should commit to an immediate acknowledgement of conflict and open communication.
2. Clarify the conflict source – It can be difficult, but it is important to clarify the source of conflict. If you do not identify the correct source, it will waste time-solving the wrong problem. Often, the cause is deeper than the obvious or is not the initial reason suggested. There is always the possibility that underlying issues are present and need to be resolved.
When conflict stems from underlying interpersonal or emotional issues, the conflict can be intense. Feelings of jealousy or poor self-esteem are examples of underlying issues that could cause animosity in the interaction. Often, these underlying sources for conflict are caused by differences in background, perception, and expectations.
3. Focus on team goals – The next step is to return the focus to the goal of the interaction. By evaluating how the conflict will affect your goals, you can decide if the conflict is worth addressing as an issue. If the conflict can damage relationships or impair decision-making, it should be important enough to address.
Commitment to your goals motivates you to discover a solution to the conflict. Focusing on the goals also helps remind you and the other person that you are working towards the same goal, which builds a sense of unity.
4. Focus on the issues – While working through a conflict, you should keep your focus on the issues, not the personality of the other person. Focusing on personalities creates defensiveness and hinders the conflict resolution process. Focusing on the issues can keep the discussion from becoming personal and is more productive.
You should try to find a resolution that progresses towards the goal of the interaction, but that does not disregard any person’s values. Keeping the focus on the issue requires that you subscribe to the fundamental belief that the other person is a valuable partner in the interaction.
5. Listen to all views – Every person in the interaction should listen and encourage each other to share views openly and honestly. Remember that the opinions shared cannot be considered right or wrong and that conflict resolution is not about winning or losing.
The team should discuss views in terms of facts and observations, not feelings and personalities. There should be no blame. Each person needs to try and understand the views of another person. However, it’s important to differentiate between understanding and agreeing. Understanding another person’s view does not mean that you have to agree with the other person’s view.
6. Look for agreement – After all the views have been heard, it is helpful to identify any issues on which you and the other person do agree. Finding common ground provides a starting point for resolving the conflict. An agreement might be found by looking at the differences from a new perspective or by reusing a conflict resolution plan that has worked for you in similar situations in the past.
7. Discuss alternatives – At this point, you should discuss all possible alternatives for resolving the conflict. When you and the other person have expressed the ideas and suggestions, you should both give them full consideration. Sharing conflict resolution options provided allows you to make an informed decision. This open communication also fosters trust between you and the other person.
Conflicts based only on the content of interaction or discussion can sometimes be resolved at this step. If you reach a conclusion about which possible resolution is best, the resolution can be agreed upon and you can proceed with accomplishing the goals. All other conflicts will need to be resolved by creating a plan.
8. Create a plan – After the best solution has been chosen, you need to create a plan. If you have a plan that has worked in the past, then you can use it as a starting point for the new plan.
Than you for taking the time to read, we hope this article added value to your conflict handling skills.
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