January is upon us, and with it comes resolutions and hopes for a successful new year. What resolutions do you want to make about how conflict
is managed in your organization? Conflict costs dearly in lost productivity, decreased morale and increased stress. Early resolution of conflict is our mantra. What changes can you make so that conflict is handled when a misunderstanding first arises? Explore the steps toward conflict resolution below and make a resolution to have a happier, more productive work environment in 2022.
1. Get to the root of the conflict source. When you define the cause of conflict, you are able to understand how the issue began in the first place. Aim to get both parties to come to a consensus on what the disagreement is. To begin, discuss the unmet needs on both sides of the issue. Ask questions
until you can be sure that both parties understand the situation thoroughly.
2. Let everyone have their say and listen actively. Give each party equal time to air out their views and concerns. Set ground rules if necessary, and adopt a positive approach to encourage people to articulate their thoughts honestly. Engage in active listening
by maintaining eye contact, listening without judging, staying focused, and asking follow-up questions.
3. Evaluate the situation and determine ways to reach a common goal. After listening
to both sides, take the time to investigate the conflict. Dig deep to uncover the feelings and concerns of all involved parties. To solve the problem, you need to have a common objective. Once this mutual goal has been established, determine the steps both parties can take toward resolution. Brainstorm together until you have exhausted all options. What exactly will team members do on the path to the common goal? What are the responsibilities of each party in the resolution?
4. Evaluate how things are going and determine preventative strategies for moving forward. Continue to monitor the issue and assess if the agreed upon solution is effective. You may need to revisit the parties’ roles in resolving the conflict if issues begin to resurface. Look for lessons you can learn from the original conflict and determine strategies for preventing such a conflict in the future. What can you do to address concerns before they snowball into a group conflict
again? Managing issues as they arise, rather than letting them turn into a major disruptive conflict, will save your organization time, money and hurt feelings.
When you assemble people with differing opinions and working styles into an organization working toward common goals, conflict is bound to occur now and then. But there are ways to manage this conflict before it disrupts workflow and damages relationships. As the new year gets underway, make a resolution to address conflict in a healthy manner that leads to a more productive workplace. Consider enlisting the help of an experienced mediator
to facilitate positive change in your organization.
Ellen F. Kandell is a certified professional mediator and attorney with over 30 years of public and private sector experience. She is one of eight Maryland mediators featured on a statewide demonstration video of good mediation practice. Ellen is certified by the International Mediation Institute. She provides mediation, group facilitation and training to diverse clients in Washington, DC and the US. Get in touch with her via email, and follow her on LinkedIn, and Twitter.