My recent article on conflict resolution for Up Journey

Originally posted as part of 30+ Workplace Conflict Examples and How to Resolve Them By The Editors Updated on February 15, 2022

Kim-Adele Randall

Kim-Adele Randall

CEO and Leadership and Business Expert, Kim-Adele Leadership Expert

Conflict is a part of life, and without conflict resolution, we can’t be successful. It’s important for leaders to know how to manage conflict within their teams effectively.

To do this successfully, you need to understand the different types of conflict in a company and how each one can be resolved.

Five main categories of workplace conflict

There are many different forms of conflict, although five main categories cover most types. They are as follows:

  • People vs. people: This occurs when one person is pitted against another person, and the result is a competition that can lead to aggression, hostility, or even violence.
  • People vs. process: This type of conflict happens when people are fighting against the way something is done, often because they do not agree with the way it is being done or do not feel that their voices are being heard.
  • People vs. self: This occurs when a person conflicts with themselves, often because they have conflicting goals or values. This can be very challenging to resolve, as the person can usually not see things objectively.
  • Process vs. process: This type of conflict occurs when the procedures or policies of an organization are at odds with one another, resulting in confusion and lack of direction or goals for employees
  • Process vs. people: This often arises when organizational policies or procedures do not meet the needs of the employees, causing them to become upset over their working conditions

Conflict management is a process for addressing conflicts by taking steps to stop the conflict from getting worse and refocusing on issues of common interest among those involved.

This may include negotiation, mediation, arbitration, non-violent intervention, or other processes that have been designed to resolve differences in a way that reduces escalation and creates a win-win solution to a problem.

Related: Negotiation Strategies and Conflict Resolution Skills or Different types of conflict and why it matters

Managers play a crucial role in minimizing workplace conflicts

There are several things that managers can do to help create a more effective work environment to prevent conflict, including:

  • Creating clear expectations/job descriptions: Ensure each person knows what you expect of them and what they are accountable for.
  • Have a clear and transparent communication: Most conflict comes down to misunderstanding, miscommunication, or misinformation. Having an open and transparent communication helps you identify these root causes and eliminate them.
  • Setting appropriate boundaries with each employee: Ensure you have been clear on. What is and isn’t acceptable behaviors and any consequences.
  • Providing regular feedback (both positive and corrective): Creating an open culture where feedback is seen as an opportunity to become even better. Ensure you are telling people what they do well and the impact it has, as well as what could be going better.
  • Developing solid relationships with each employee: Get to know your people, what is important to them, and how you can help them achieve their goals.
  • Speak respectfully and diplomatically to all employees: At our base, as human beings, we want to be listened to, understood, and respected. It doesn’t mean we can’t disagree, but we never disrespect.
  • Remaining impartial in conflicts: As a leader, you will often be asked to mediate in the conflict. It is important when doing so to remain calm and focus on the facts. There are some tips below that can help.
  • Resolving conflicts promptly: Conflict is best dealt with head-on to ensure it doesn’t fester and escalate.

Related: Conflict examples and how to handle them or Stop conflict at work the power of story

Workplace conflict can be highly destructive to an organization, costing time, money, and resources that could be better spent elsewhere.

Organizations can enjoy a more productive, harmonious work environment by understanding the causes of conflict and implementing strategies to minimize them.

If a conflict does occur, following a simple step-by-step approach is often the best way to understand what is going on, identify the root cause and find a solution.

Here is a simple 5 step process that is highly effective.

Understand your conflict resolution style.

Do you like to talk things out?

Are you more of a “doer”?

Do you want to have lots of information before deciding?

Or do you prefer to make decisions quickly?

Knowing your tendencies will help you better understand how to deal with conflict when it arises.

Try and understand the other person’s conflict resolution styles. 

This takes some effort, but it can be very helpful in getting to a resolution. For example, if you know that the other person likes to talk things out, you might be more likely to suggest sitting down and talking about the issue rather than trying to solve it yourself.

Stay calm and stick with the facts. 

Too often, we aren’t dealing with what actually happened. We are dealing with what we made it mean. By remaining calm and looking at the facts rather than the emotions, you’re more likely to be able to think clearly and come up with a resolution.

Try and find common ground. 

Even if you don’t agree on everything, there are likely to be some areas where you see eye-to-eye. Focusing on these areas can help build a foundation for resolving the conflict.

Agree on your intention. 

Being clear on our intentions is an essential part of conflict management; once the other party understands we are looking to find a resolution that works for everybody, they become part of the solution instead of part of the problem.

For example, I am 100% committed to finding a solution that works for both of us. The beauty of this is it gives you a common goal (a solution that works for both of us) and allows you to disregard suggestions that don’t work for both parties without undoing all the good work you have already done to resolve the conflict.

When it comes to dealing with conflict, there’s no one-size-fits-all solution

What works for one person may not work for another. But by using these tips as a starting point, you’ll be on your way to resolving conflicts effectively and maintaining positive relationships with those you lead. Below are some conflict resolution techniques proved to work.

Tips on how to handle conflict effectively:

  • Define your conflict resolution strategy – Find a win-win solution for both parties involved in the conflict. It isn’t always easy, but if both sides are willing, consider agreeing to disagree on certain matters that you won’t compromise on so both sides can be satisfied with their decisions.
  • Be aware of your personal biases and assumptions. Don’t jump to conclusions or make assumptions about the other person’s motives.
  • Stay calm and try not to react emotionally. If you can, take a step back and consider the situation from the other person’s perspective.
  • Listen actively and don’t interrupt. Let the other person finish talking before responding.
  • Be respectful and try to understand the other person’s point of view. Acknowledge their feelings and don’t dismiss them.
  • Avoid using power tactics or threats. This will only aggravate the situation and make it harder to resolve.
  • Try to find a mutually acceptable solution that meets the needs of all parties.
  • Use power tactics or threats at your own risk! This will only aggravate the situation because no one likes to be threatened, especially during conflict management.
  • Think about how to prevent conflict from arising again in the future. For example, you might want to adjust your style or approach so that conflict is less likely to arise in the future.
  • Consider conflict resolution training to help you and your people understand what conflict resolution, styles of conflict resolution, model of conflict resolution and conflict resolution methods.

If you would like more help on conflict resolution please DM me for a private chat on how I can help you.

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