The Upside to Workplace Conflict and How to Deal with it Successfully
The list of possible causes for workplace conflict is long enough to seem insurmountable, and a company completely free of inter-staff strife is rare. Any situation requiring the collective involvement of individuals with unique perspectives, strengths and weaknesses will result in priority differences that can lead to clashes. Rather than hope for the best to avoid conflict, try to face it instead by working through it and celebrating conflict’s silver lining.
The Upsides to Workplace Conflict
Disagreements in the workplace aren’t always the result of personalities that don’t mesh. Conflict can sometimes arise from two equally valid but incompatible approaches to work completion. In this situation, what you have is not a conflict but an opportunity to create a backup strategy. When a current procedure isn’t as effective as anticipated, then procedural conflict can jump-start conversations that result in new ideas and solutions.
Conflict culminating in successful resolution can also enhance mutual understanding between co-workers. By breaking down barriers, communication improves to create better working relationships. Workplace conflict necessitates improvements to problem-solving skills and can even prompt staff to self-advocate more effectively. The self-reflection required to concisely state one’s case can foster a greater understanding of another person’s perspective as well.
Handling Conflict Effectively
Despite the many triggers workplace conflict can have, the two main factors that prevent its resolution are communication barriers and employee challenges with emotional self-regulation. The latter may not be as obvious as an explosive temper but may instead present as innocuously as arrogance, pride or behavioral rigidity. Consider the motives behind the perspective of a difficult employee so that you can find mutual understanding.
Once you have identified the conflict’s underlying issue, establish a culture of effective communication by involving all parties in the discussion. Ensure that all opinions are heard and that all solution suggestions are considered. Focus on the positive in each situation, and see the negative as a catalyst for constructive change rather than as an insurmountable barrier. Make changes as required, and keep track of what works and what doesn’t.
Conflict that is managed effectively can result in professional growth. If you encounter strife at the workplace, understand that avoiding it may not be the best strategy, and instead face it directly to facilitate constructive change.