Conflict Resolution Skills: As much as we’d all love to work in an organization that’s free of disagreements and conflicts, that idea is simply unreasonable. Unfortunately, conflict is a major part of work and life, in general.
Many of us might fear conflict. We want everyone to be satisfied and for every workday to be a breeze. However, conflict is also a healthy, important part of a job. It means that people are learning to stand up for their beliefs and compromise on some matters. Overall, conflict resolution is an important process for all employees to undergo.
In this blog post, we’ll review different conflict management skills, and how you can adapt your style to diffusing conflict within your team and with customers.
Conflict Resolution Skills Include Which Of The Following?
Conflict is a normal part of any healthy relationship. After all, two people can’t be expected to agree on everything, all the time. The key is not to avoid conflict but to learn how to resolve it in a healthy way.
When conflict is mismanaged, it can cause great harm to a relationship, but when handled in a respectful, positive way, conflict provides an opportunity to strengthen the bond between two people. Whatever the cause of disagreements and disputes, by learning these skills for conflict resolution, you can keep your personal and professional relationships strong and growing.
What causes conflict?
Conflict arises from differences, both large and small. It occurs whenever people disagree over their values, motivations, perceptions, ideas, or desires. Sometimes these differences appear trivial, but when a conflict triggers strong feelings, a deep personal need is often at the core of the problem. These needs can range from the need to feel safe and secure or respected and valued, to the need for greater closeness and intimacy.
Think about the opposing needs of a toddler and a parent. The child’s need is to explore, so venturing to the street or the cliff edge meets that need. But the parent’s need is to protect the child’s safety, a need that can only be met by limiting the toddler’s exploration. Since these needs are at odds, conflict arises.
The needs of each party play an important role in the long-term success of relationships. Each deserves respect and consideration. In personal relationships, a lack of understanding of differing needs can result in distance, arguments, and break-ups. In the workplace, differing needs can result in broken deals, decreased profits, and lost jobs.
When you can recognize conflicting needs and are willing to examine them with compassion and understanding, it can lead to creative problem solving, team building, and stronger relationships.
Conflict resolution skills are required for a wide range of positions across many job sectors. This requirement is based around the fact that conflict tends to reduce productivity and create a difficult work environment, leading to unwanted turnover in staff and reduced morale. Individuals who are able to resolve conflicts are often excellent mediators, rational, and able to manage difficult personalities from a place of empathy.
What Is Conflict Resolution?
Conflict resolution is the process by which two or more parties reach a peaceful resolution to a dispute. Conflict may occur between co-workers, or between supervisors and subordinates, or between service providers and their clients or customers. Conflict can also occur between groups, such as management and the labor force, or between whole departments.
Some conflicts are essentially arbitrary, meaning it doesn’t matter who “wins,” only that the problem is resolved so everyone can get back to work.
But some conflicts reflect real disagreements about how an organization should function.
The Conflict Resolution Process
The resolution of conflicts in the workplace typically involves some or all of the following processes:
- Recognition by the parties involved that a problem exists.
- Mutual agreement to address the issue and find some resolution.
- An effort to understand the perspective and concerns of the opposing individual or group.
- Identifying changes in attitude, behavior, and approaches to work by both sides that will lessen negative feelings.
- Recognizing triggers to episodes of conflict.
- Interventions by third parties such as Human Resources representatives or higher-level managers to mediate.
- A willingness by one or both parties to compromise.
Conflict Resolution Skills Definition
Do you fear conflict or avoid it at all costs? If your perception of conflict comes from painful memories from early childhood or previous unhealthy relationships, you may expect all disagreements to end badly. You may view conflict as demoralizing, humiliating, or something to fear. If your early life experiences left you feeling powerless or out of control, conflict may even be traumatizing for you.
If you’re afraid of conflict, it can become a self-fulfilling prophecy. When you enter a conflict situation already feeling threatened, it’s tough to deal with the problem at hand in a healthy way. Instead, you’re more likely to either shut down or blow up in anger.
|Healthy and unhealthy ways of managing and resolving conflict|
|Unhealthy responses to conflict:||Healthy responses to conflict:|
|An inability to recognize and respond to the things that matter to the other person||The capacity to empathize with the other person’s viewpoint|
|Explosive, angry, hurtful, and resentful reactions||Calm, non-defensive, and respectful reactions|
|The withdrawal of love, resulting in rejection, isolation, shaming, and fear of abandonment||A readiness to forgive and forget, and to move past the conflict without holding resentments or anger|
|An inability to compromise or see the other person’s side||The ability to seek compromise and avoid punishing|
|Feeling fearful or avoiding conflict; expecting a bad outcome||A belief that facing conflict head-on is the best thing for both sides|
Conflict resolution, stress, and emotions
Conflict triggers strong emotions and can lead to hurt feelings, disappointment, and discomfort. When handled in an unhealthy manner, it can cause irreparable rifts, resentments, and break-ups. But when conflict is resolved in a healthy way, it increases your understanding of the other person, builds trust, and strengthens your relationships.
If you are out of touch with your feelings or so stressed that you can only pay attention to a limited number of emotions, you won’t be able to understand your own needs. This will make it hard to communicate with others and establish what’s really troubling you. For example, couples often argue about petty differences—the way she hangs the towels, the way he slurps his soup—rather than what is really bothering them.
The ability to successfully resolve conflict depends on your ability to:
- Manage stress quickly while remaining alert and calm. By staying calm, you can accurately read and interpret verbal and nonverbal communication.
- Control your emotions and behavior. When you’re in control of your emotions, you can communicate your needs without threatening, intimidating, or punishing others.
- Pay attention to the feelings being expressed as well as the spoken words of others.
- Be aware of and respect differences. By avoiding disrespectful words and actions, you can almost always resolve a problem faster.
To successfully resolve a conflict, you need to learn and practice two core skills:
- Quick stress relief: the ability to quickly relieve stress in the moment.
- Emotional awareness: the ability to remain comfortable enough with your emotions to react in constructive ways, even in the midst of a perceived attack.
Conflict Resolution Skills Examples
Conflict management can be approached using a variety of different styles. While these styles may differ, every method utilizes the same management skills. To successfully manage conflict, you’ll need to hound each of these skills and learn the right time to exercise each one. Below are some of the core skills and characteristics that you’ll need to adopt if you want to effectively manage workplace conflicts.
Active listening is a skill used by salespeople to better connect them with customers during a pitch. However, it’s just as useful a skill when trying to manage and resolve conflicts.
Active listening begins with intently focusing on what your customer has to say. Make note of their phrasing then respond using their same wording. This not only demonstrates that you were listening, but it will also help clear up any confusion about your argument. Additionally, be sure to ask questions when you’re confused about a point and focus on identifying the other person’s goals.
Emotional intelligence describes the ability to read and understand your emotions, as well as the emotions of others. This is incredibly important for conflict management because it prevents escalation. If you can effectively interpret your opposition’s emotions, it’s easier to communicate with them without provoking them. If you can eliminate frustration and anger from the conflict, people will be more likely to focus on compromising because they aren’t distracted by their emotions.
Conflicts are rarely simple or easy to overcome. People don’t like to be wrong and will often hold their stance on an issue until they’re right or proven wrong. If you’re looking to resolve a conflict, it’s important to keep in mind that the problem may not be solved right away, even if the solution is obvious.
No matter what the conflict is, you still need to take the time to listen to every participant and value each argument evenly. Even if there’s a clear answer, rushing to a resolution can make people feel like they’re left out in the decision-making process. Taking the time to equally consider all options now can help create a long-term solution that will save you a headache later.
Conflicts can be difficult to resolve because they often never stay focused solely on the conflict itself. The conflict usually acts as an initial spark that ignites previous tension that has built up between the two parties over time. Don’t focus on the people and their personal characteristics, instead, look at the problem itself and center your energy on finding a middle ground. While you probably can’t solve your personal issues with the other person, you can definitely work on the tangible issues that impede you from meeting goals.
It’s hard to come to an agreement if no one is happy about it. Even if you do, a half-hearted compromise doesn’t motivate you to actually follow through on your promise either. In many cases, it can even provide a participant with an escape from having to continue to deal with the conflict altogether.
Being positive with your conflict management is a great way to keep progress moving forward. Conflicts are full of roadblocks and you’ll need to be willing to overcome them if you want to come to a resolution. Having the right attitude towards facing the conflict can become a catalyst for other participants who may be warier of the interaction.
Conflicts create a relationship between the participants that don’t end with the resolution of the problem.
Creating an open line of communication between the two parties is the best approach for fostering a healthy, long-term relationship. Both parties can check in on one another and make sure that both ends of the agreement are being upheld. If new challenges arise, this communication channel makes it easier for participants to address the roadblock without risking any progress they’ve previously made.
While these skills can help you and your team manage conflicts and prevent them from escalating, it’s important to understand how you can use them in action to work towards resolutions. In the next section, we break down some of the ways you can use these skills to produce effective conflict resolutions.
What are some conflict resolution skills?
- Manage stress quickly while remaining alert and calm.
- Control your emotions and behavior.
- Be aware of and respect differences.
What are the 5 conflict resolution strategies?
Kenneth Thomas and Ralph Kilmann developed five conflict resolution strategies that people use to handle conflict, including avoiding, defeating, compromising, accommodating, and collaborating.
What are some examples of conflict in the workplace?
- Leadership conflict. Every leader has his own way of leading a team.
- Interdependency-based conflict.
- Workstyle differences.
- Cultural-based dissension.
- Personality clashes.