10 Conflict Resolution Skills That Every Manager Needs

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  • 31 Dec 2023
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Many of us understand intellectually that conflict is an inevitable element of life. We all know that disagreement may lead to greater understanding and better bonds. However, when confrontation erupts, it puts some of us on the defensive. When arguments arise, we are left wondering how to resolve them while maintaining the connection. This is when conflict resolution abilities come into play.

Here are 10 conflict resolution skills that every manager requires if you are managing a team or working directly with people.

1. Communicate Early and Often

Communicate your objectives and desires to avoid misunderstandings and uncertainty. Ask your coworkers what they require to perform at their best, and do your share to accommodate those requirements or, at the very least, avoid doing anything that may damage them.

Address any potential tension in the relationship as soon as possible. Problems do not resolve themselves. Failure to act when you detect a possible problem might lead to complications later on.

2. Listen Actively

Everyone desires to be heard. Everyone wants to know that when they talk, when they take the time to offer their thoughts, the person with whom they are interacting actually listens.

Active listening is a necessary phase in the resolving of a disagreement. Active listening involves paying attention to what is communicated both orally and nonverbally. Is it listening for intent and comprehension? Conflicts can emerge when two people misinterpret or mishear what the other person is saying. Active listening ensures that both the sender and the receiver understand each other. When it comes to settling problems, this is half the fight.

Active listening is crucial given the popularity of email and remote working, especially in light of the COVID-19 health issue. Email and text interactions are tough to read because intent and tone are difficult to discern. Team members will have to work extra hard to guarantee that they hear what their colleagues are saying, lowering the possibility of conflict.

3. Use “I” Statements

Focus on how you feel to decrease conflict. Consider how a particular action affected you. Speak from your own experience, but keep in mind that it is not a universal fact. Just because you feel a certain way does not imply that your coworkers do as well.

Furthermore, using "I" statements reduces the possibility of overgeneralizing, which might add fuel to the fire. If you are in an argument and inform the person who has caused you damage that they harmed everyone rather than just you, you may elicit a defensive reaction from them. Instead, concentrate on yourself and what you feel and require. This reduces conflict by keeping tempers in check.

4. Understand What Is Yours

Have you ever gotten into a fight about something you've been struggling with for a long time? Perhaps you've battled to be heard. You've had the impression that others don't hear you when you communicate. You carry this sensitivity with you wherever you go. What's more, guess what? It doesn't take much for people to incite your rage if you believe they aren't hearing you.

When this happens and you become furious over not being heard, take a step back and ask yourself if that is indeed the situation or if your past is impacting your behavior in this time. Consider if the person with whom you are at odds is you and your past or the seeming offender.

We become annoyed with folks about things that truly don't bother them. Find out what is troubling you or the other person. Sometimes disagreement arises from anything that happened at home, terrible news, or an unconnected interpersonal disturbance.

5. Don’t Take Things Personally

When Don Miguel Ruiz penned "The Four Agreements," he warned us not to take things personally. As much as I respect his work, I must admit that following this bit of advice is challenging. However, it is critical that we learn not to take things personally. Other people's lives are filled with plenty to keep them engaged in the same way that ours are. People's bad behavior may hurt and disappoint us, but it represents where they are. It has absolutely nothing to do with us.

My friend is going through a difficult time. As a single mother, she feels alone and overwhelmed. I asked her to a party and was surprised when she didn't answer. "That's not like her," I thought to myself. I deliberated for a few days before reaching out to check on her. When she answered, she described herself as being in a depressive fog and failing to do even the most basic daily duties. What do you think? She was barely getting by, let alone considering the invitation she may or may not have seen. Her reaction was unrelated to me. It was inspired by her own personal troubles at the time.

6. Give up the Need to Be Right

The ego is a voracious eater. It aspires to be correct 100% of the time. When disagreements develop, let go of the impulse to be correct. Be prepared to be incorrect. If you struggle to be right, you may have an incentive to prolong the battle. Furthermore, if you must be correct, your goal becomes defending your position rather than resolving the issue. If you want to lessen or settle disagreement, avoid being correct.


7. Speak With People Who Can Make a Change

I understand that venting feels nice. Everyone wants to be validated, I understand. When disagreements emerge, however, it is better to speak only with those who have the ability to impact change. This will guarantee that there is genuine activity toward settlement and will keep rumor at bay.

When you share information with others who are unable to assist, you risk causing reputational injury to the person with whom you are at odds. While you and this individual may finally overcome your disagreement, the seeds of strife you have sowed will follow the person perpetually.

8. Identify the Root of the Conflict

People who have recurring conflicts are likely to have an unresolved or undiscovered fundamental issue. In this case, conflict resolution may occur only when both parties have identified the source of their problems.

The source might be something that happened years or decades ago. It might be the result of something absolutely unknown to one side. However, it is critical to pinpoint the source of future difficulties.

9. Seek Appropriate Intervention

Sometimes the disagreement is so entrenched that third-party involvement is required. A therapist, counselor, or trusted adviser might provide the intervention. If you have tried and failed to mediate a problem, seek the assistance of a skilled and impartial third party.

10. Lead With How You Feel

Being vulnerable comes naturally to some of us. Others see showing vulnerability as a sign of weakness. For those in the latter category, expressing anger is preferable than saying, "Hey, I was hurt when this happened, and I was wondering if you could help me with it..."

When anything bothers you, inquire as to why. Then begin with your feelings. This can let the individual with whom you are unhappy realize how you feel and what you require.

Final Thoughts

If, after completing these ten steps, you still discover that conflict exists, consider how you might reorganize the engagement such that you spend as little time as possible with the offending partner.

It is true that conflict is an inevitable element of life. Conflict manifests itself in our families, personal connections, and professional interactions. What's more, guess what? Working from home does not reduce conflict. It is as certain as the taxes you are obligated to pay. However, with these ten actions, disagreement does not have to be the end of a professional relationship, but rather the beginning of a new one.

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