Conflict is inevitable in the workplace, but it doesn’t always have to lead to negative outcomes. As we know with many other factors in our lives, having an awareness of the causes of conflicts, as well as the tools to address them constructively, can lead to a lot of personal growth.
Here are a few ways to reframe your thinking and find ways to create growth out of conflict.
Pause Before Responding
Sometimes, the initial response you have when receiving information from someone is exponentially different from the way you would like to react. Pausing before responding gives you a chance to consider the information being shared, as well as what response you want to give the other person at that moment.
Consider what brought them to their current conclusion and situation. Can you help elaborate on the details they are missing? Are their intentions good but execution lacking? How would you want someone to respond to you in a similar situation? Taking time to cool down and consider their behavior can help you gain more insight and respond as the best version of yourself.
Strong communication is extremely important when it comes to resolving conflict! Feeling comfortable enough to bring issues up is a great sign of trust, and asking questions about the issue at hand is a great way to spark the conversation, get more information on the topic, and open the door to having deeper conversations in the future.
If you don’t understand someone’s decision-making process or logic, just ask for clarity. That might cut off the conflict before it can even develop. Even if it doesn’t, knowing the other person’s thought process will give you key insights to resolving the issue; you’ll better understand their motivations and thought process.
View Conflict as an Opportunity
Have you ever argued with a friend or partner, and learned something brand new about them? It can be incredibly insightful to gain this new understanding of someone you care about that you may not have otherwise known. This can also happen when you work closely with a team, as long as you are open to hearing what the other person has to say.
Change your perspective and try to view conflict as the opportunity it is! In high-pressure situations, you can really get to know someone. Try to stay receptive and focus on listening to see what you can learn.
Acknowledge Each Person’s Strengths
Looking at the strengths of others might feel like it reduces your value, but it actually has the opposite effect! When you let someone else know that their skills and hard work are seen, that recognition can spark a harmonious working relationship.
This also sets a tone in your subconscious to be looking for the strengths in others before seeking conflict with them. Make it part of your team’s culture to acknowledge the accomplishments and achievements of others, and you will all benefit from that positivity.
Differences Can Act as Puzzle Pieces
Many people feel most comfortable among those of us who think and behave in ways similar to ourselves. However, this can prohibit us from learning the positive ways having these people around can affect our lives.
Say someone on the team hates public speaking but loves to work on the logistical parts of a project or task, and another is the total opposite. If these two individuals focus on their differences instead of their similarities they can begin to have conflict or resent each other because they are butting heads instead of collaborating. However, if they notice how their strengths complement one another it can be like corresponding pieces in a puzzle.
Set Friendly Boundaries
One thing to remember is that people are not mind readers! Others may not pick up on the best way to communicate with you, or where to draw the line when you’re getting frustrated.
However, before anyone else can start to understand those boundaries, you have to be clear on them for yourself. Take the time to learn where your lines are and help others to learn not to cross them. The more consistent you are about maintaining those boundaries, the easier it will be to continue in this manner as you move forward.
Work Every Day Towards Better Communication
Great communication is a hard-earned skill that you can work to continuously improve, but without that conscious development, it can start to become challenging to work productively on a team. Lean into the communication skills that you’ve already got and try to expand them.
A great way to do this is to ask those close to you for feedback and advice on your communication. If you’re experiencing a conflict in your workplace, you can act out a confrontation with someone you trust and run through different scenarios to find a resolution.
Remove Your Expectations
Commonly, a person becomes irritated by others when they have preconceived expectations for that individual. Expectations can come from any number of things, and they can live in our subconscious when dealing with that individual.
However, humans are constantly growing and changing, and the person we are today may not be the same as who we are tomorrow. Allowing yourself to accept someone in the present moment, without any preconceived notions, can help to eliminate the conflict that comes with these expectations.
A Variety of Opinions Makes for a Well-Rounded Perspective
Each person is gifted with a unique lens to the world, developed over time from their life experiences. We all could benefit from taking the time to understand another person’s point of view, and the way you handle conflict can determine that.
Make sure to follow these steps, stay true to yourself, and try to represent your best self in every situation. You might be surprised at how conflicts and your perception of conflict change for the better.
About the Author
Hannah Reyes helps TTI Success Insights maintain structure, and ensures projects are communicated and delivered on time. She is passionate about helping people and loves to share her expertise on how assessments can positively impact people.