Conflict At The Office? A Simple Start to Fixing It.
Conflict is a part of life.
It’s brought on by human nature. We each have different goals and dreams, and we each see the world just a little differently.
When you put us in a work environment, these natural forces become amplified — mostly by our ambitions — until they create inordinate amounts of tension, dysfunction, and stress.
For some reason, we are reluctant to address the conflict. Strange. It doesn’t have to be that way.
A quick Google search on ‘resolving conflict’ reveals no end to complicated advice: 5 steps — or 10 Tips — or 12 Steps – with pictures, no less! What if we’re making this waaaay to hard?
Granted, some conflict resolution IS hard — say, resolving conflict in the Middle East. But in our personal and work lives, there’s an easy place to start. All you have to do is embrace three basic imperatives.
You have to talk about things. You can’t just let stuff ride. You can’t deal with issues that you are not talking about. Discussing things neutralizes them while not talking about things causes them to become toxic.
2. No Judgement
People are who they are. They believe what they believe, and they feel what they feel. Don’t take it personal, and don’t let yourself feel attacked. Their feelings are legitimate.
When you open the door to communication, people will say the strangest things. They will articulate ideas and feelings that are in stark contrast to your understanding or to your way of seeing the world. That’s okay. Remember, your understanding or belief may be just as odd and incomprehensible to them.
Just let everything come out without judgment. People are who they are. They believe what they believe.
It’s also important to not hold the person to what they say. Our minds are often muddle and our thoughts confusing, especially when it comes to areas in conflict. They will most likely have a different — and hopefully deeper — understanding tomorrow. That’s okay, too. Don’t hold them to what they say today.
3. Find Common Ground
Do you want to work together? Do you want to be together? If you do, then the path to understanding and compromise will be clear.
Once you have issues on the table you’ll soon be able to see a way forward, to common ground.
The 3 Imperatives of Conflict Resolution: All or Nothing
These three imperatives must be taken in their entirety. If you endeavor to communicate — with no judgment — and seek common ground — you will have less conflict and tension in your life. Guaranteed.
Be forewarned, however, that if you leave out even one of the three imperatives you will make matters worse, not better. If you pick only two of the three, you are certain to stir up a hornet’s nest.
Try using the three imperatives with someone in your life with whom you are experiencing tension or conflict. Let me know how it goes. My guess is that it will make a huge difference in both of your lives.
Along the way, you will make your lives a little better, and your office environments a slightly better place to work. This will make me very happy.
Need help settling a conflict in the office? Get in touch — as an official consultant and mediator, I can often help resolve problems that involve more than just a few members of the team.
Heather Hollick has been helping others become better leaders and craft more meaningful careers for more than 25 years. Her experience spans both business and technology, operations and organizational development. Oh, and she was born in Canada, so she can't help but be helpful. 😉