Wednesday, May 12, 2021 Gerald Moore/Workforce Development Team

CHARLESTON, S.C. - Conflict between individuals is an inevitable, yet healthy part of life.  People have different value and belief systems that influence their perceptions of the world. In the workplace, conflict is bound to happen between managers and employees as well as between employees or even between employees and customers.  Conflict occurs because the workplace presents situations where decisions need to be made and stressful exchanges need to be resolved. The workplace is filled with different degrees of human conflict. Inability to resolve conflict can negatively impact business.  It is important that employees learn the soft skill of exercising positive conflict resolution.

Check out this article, Conflict Resolution Skills: Definition and Examples for conflict resolution skill tips. The article also addresses the different types of conflict in the workplace and provides examples of how to resolve conflict.

Each person has a different set of goals, wants, and needs.  At work, each person may have a different opinion about what needs to be done to solve a problem.  Do not assume that there is a winner in the conflict situation.  Attempt to find a solution that is satisfactory to all.  Conflict resolution provides an opportunity to deal with conflict in a favorable, open manner.  It gives an opportunity to work towards a better solution.  Not all conflicts and differences can be resolved. Sometimes you agree to disagree.  Remember the key is to respect one another’s point of view and to handle the situation constructively.

You can learn to deal with conflict in a positive and constructive manner that strengthens decision making and contributes to effective work relationships.  These acquired soft skills are called conflict resolution skills.

Here are 5 steps towards achieving effective conflict resolution:

  1. Create an effective atmosphere. Arrange to meet at a convenient time when you will not be interrupted or distracted.  Never deal with conflict in front of customers.  Start the discussion of the problem in an open, positive way.
  2. Clarify perceptions.  Make time at the beginning of the discussion for each person to state his or her views.  When it is your time to listen, pay careful attention to what the person is saying. Use paraphrasing, summarizing, and questions to clarify what the person is saying and feeling. Ask questions to determine exactly what the problem is.  Watch your language, tone of voice, and nonverbal gestures.
  3. Focus on individual and shared needs. Find out what each person wants and needs to happen to resolve the situation. By identifying their shared needs, both parties are working toward a consensus.  Attempt to arrive at a decision that takes both parties needs and opinions into account.
  4. Develop a list of goals to achieve in an action plan. Sort through ideas to see which ones will work.  Set goals and develop an action plan. Create short, achievable steps that work toward your overall goal.
  5. Resolve the situation on good terms.  When you have dealt with a conflict, or if you have agreed to disagree, make a point of parting on good terms.  Treat the other person with respect and dignity. Thank the person for discussing the issue with you. Create a climate in which you can continue to work together harmoniously.  Agree to take a positive approach to resolving the problem when another conflict arises.

If you have a situation where it has become apparent that the issues are unresolvable, it may be necessary to find a mediator to help you deal with the problem. You could also involve another co-worker/supervisor at work whom both employees in the conflict trust and respect.  Remember conflict is complex. Complex problems do not necessarily need complex solutions. They need effective solutions.  Good conflict resolution promotes proper and effective communication, coherence, productivity, and a happy workplace.

With a little bit of practice and self-patience, you will be ready to take on the next steps in your future career.  If you would like more information about how to apply for jobs online, assistance in finding resources, tips on how to get the job-hunting process started or more, please reach out to us at CCPL by email, chat, or text. Remember, you are not alone.