A healthy and controlled element of conflict can be useful. People do not always need to agree on everything and debate or exchanging ideas on the best way forward can be healthy especially in a creative workplace or if a relationship has become stale.
The critical factor is to understand when a difference of opinion or understanding starts to become dangerous. Having set strategies in place to recognise and stop disputes developing is also useful.
If the conflict arises from a lack of common understanding, it is essential to open an honest and candid discussion to air differences. You must be willing to listen to the other person and look to set down what you will agree on (and what you can agree to differ on) to move forward. If there is a difference in expectations, find common ground on what it is fair to expect. This is particularly relevant in a manager-worker relationship. As a manager, you should calmly explain why other factors are (in your opinion) unfair. Be prepared to give ground.
If there has been an outside factor causing a common problem, it is essential to discuss the issue without blame as a matter which neither party had allowed for and agree how this will be dealt with including additional costs and time delays that are reasonable. If possible, in situations where there is a likelihood that unexpected matters could arise, for example in building works, the customer should be made aware of the possibility from the start. In the workplace, it can be useful to use the outside factor as grounds for everyone to pull together to conquer this problem and build stronger relationships. But be aware that people may act differently under pressure and co-worker relationships which are normally good can become strained and confused. Above all open communication should be encouraged and if possible being able to express themselves freely to HR or a neutral manager can help everyone express themselves freely and understand why other people behave differently.
Fiona Monson is a business mediator and consultant and trainer in avoiding and resolving business disputes. She offers a FREE 30-minute consultation. Contact Fiona on 07786 252145 or at firstname.lastname@example.org
Author: Fiona Monson
Consultant: Conflict & Mediation
Fiona is a qualified chartered accountant, insolvency practitioner and civil and commercial mediator.
Fiona qualified in both accountancy and insolvency with a Big 4 accountancy firm. After three years of audit, she worked in a variety of insolvency assignments including the administration of Air Europe in 1991. She spent a year working in the Middle East before setting up an insolvency practice for a local accountancy firm in 2001. In 2015 she broke away to work on her own and in order to extend the services she could offer to support business owners facing difficulties she qualified as a mediator.