02 December

"Peace is not absence of conflict, it is the ability to handle conflict by peaceful means." - Ronald Reagan

Remember the last argument you had at the workplace? When things heated up and ended with no solution, strained relationships and lost time. Disagreements and difference of opinions are bound to take place in every organization. On the bright side, expressed difference of opinion reflects a democratic, open and honest work culture. Such working environments are more conducive to innovation& creativity.

However, simple difference of opinion can escalate into critical interpersonal conflict if not shared mindfully & with maturity.As Steve Goodiersays“We don't get harmony when everybody sings the same note. Only notes that are different can harmonize. The same is true with people.” Sharing ideas, resolving conflicts or proposing an alternate approach in a boardroom is a sensitive process to ensure a balanced and healthy workplace environment.

Resolvinga conflict at workplace requires effort to mobilize everyone towards a shared solution. When you learn this process, it can help you avoid and resolve conflicts in theorganization. In this article, we will sharetips on sharing your point of view constructively, conveying your message, and winning in your unique way.

What is an Argument?

An argument happens when two or more people with extremely different views are unwilling to listen to the other’s perspective. Such dismissal hurts the sentiments of the other individual, leading to collateral damage. Arguments canusuallyget heated and involve non-verbal cues that can worsen the situation, like yelling, over expressive body language, hurtful tone or overflow of emotions, likenervousness and anger.

What is Conflict Resolution?

Conflict resolution is the process of solving problems between individuals or groups involved in arguments. These disagreements come from differing opinions, values, beliefs, work styles, attitudeandcommunication style. Sometimes teammates can misunderstand the attitude, words and actions of another coworker, while other times the problem can arise due to the tone, body language or facial expressions.As Dale Carnegie says,"When dealing with people, remember you are not dealing with creatures of logic, but creatures of emotion."

Theconflict resolution process seeks to reduce tensions, bring both parties to a common understanding and find the most rational solution.

What should you do to resolve a conflict?

Using positive strategies to win arguments at work can help create a calm atmosphere where employees will not get intimidated or feel offended. Identifying a conflict, setting the intent, co-creating a common goal and using a productive choice of words, body language and facial expressions helpsresolve the conflict and build a more robust and harmonious workplace environment. Here are 7tips you can try to mitigate any conflict, any time:

1. Be Empathetic

How many times have you been in an argument thinking the opposite person was beneath you, un-deserving or lacked skills or common sense?The first step towards resolving a conflictis to think of the people you argue with as partners and not opponents. When you see them as equal counterparts, you’ll be able to empathize, understand their point of view and focus on the solution.

Here’s how to do it:

Listen to them deeply, understand their emotions, experiences and feelings through their body language. Understanding the unsaid is the key to conflict resolution.

You can express your empathy through yourbehavior by shaking their hand, bringing them some coffee/tea, or even offering them a mint or gum will help build camaraderie.

2. Ask Open-Ended Questions

Avoid questions that can be answered in ayes-or-no. Because these types of questions usually start with “Do/Are/Could” and can soundinvestigative and offensive

.

Here’s how to do it:

Ask open-ended questions that begin with “What/How/Where/When” to understand what you’re missing from their point of view. This is encourage the other person to explain their idea subjectively, helping you understand the entire message. For instance, “What do we mostly disagree about?”

“How can we use this time period to co-create the desired result?”
Remember, to be successful at work, one needs to be collaborative and asking questions is the way to go!

3. Define Your End Objective

Eventually, everything we do has a purpose, has a goal or a result we want to accomplish. Nobody can be sure when an argument will begin andturn into a conflict,or something more.That’s why you should always determine “winning” before you get into an argument:

Do you want to be assertive and persuade the person that you are right? This isn’t a sustainable approach toward conflict resolution in manyevents. Are you going to abandon the argument after some time has passed? This would require you to stall and be stubborn.

Are you willing to move from your position and accept their terms entirely, even if it means you were wrong?

Here’s how to do it:

Think about your goals in any argument? Every matter is different;therefore, ensure you define boundaries. On which topic you are willing to compromise and which you are willing to argue about and win.

4. Always Communicate Subconsciously

Secondary communication aspects like posture, tone, pitch, pace, eye movement, hand gestures, facial expressions, sitting or standing positions can define a conflict. If you want to resolve an argumentpeacefully, even if the opposite person is yelling at you, then you should convey it subconsciously that you’re not there for a fight.

Here’s how to do it:

Maintain your tone and keep it soft. When the other person argues with you, their speech rate and volume gets increased. But when your tone is moderate, it makes the person feel that you’re peaceful.

Slow downthe pace and rate of speech. Add pauses into the conversation because it can actually be a sign of power and calm. Instead of yelling, try to listen and show respect to the other person.

Maintain your calm while the other person is shouting at you can be difficult. It takes some practice and presence of mind, but with the right mindset, you can do it.

5. Focus on intonation

Intonationmeansmodifying the tone and pitch of your voice, usually at the end of sentences or statements. When speaking with someone, you intonate your sentences upward or downward, indicating whether you’re questioning them or answering them, you’re exercising authority, or cooperating with them.

Here’s how to do it:

Whenever you talk to someone, end your point of view on a low note, with a deep voice, eye contact and firm body posture, also try to focus on the other person’s body language. You will find that the upward intonation might make them feel like they’re in authority. At the same time, downward intonation might make them feel like you’re in control.

6. Be humourous

A lighter moment is all you need to giveyour partnera chance to relax, which can turn the conflict into a productive disagreement.When you do this, you get the benefit of doubt: “Are they really trying to argue with me? Definitely not, since they’ve told me a probably a joke.”

Here’s how to do it:

• Don’t demonize the other person.
• If any jokeis targeted towards you, don’t take it personally.
• Try to brush up on your humour skills.
• Ensure that your joke does not have intended sarcasm/ pun. (Pro tip- If you are unsure about how your humour will be perceived, it’s best to avoid it.)

7. Accept Their Position &Assert yourself

Sometimes it’s just not possible to avoid an unreasonable argument. You maybe arguing with someone who isn’t willing to listen to your point of view at all.

Here’s how to do it:

First, listen to them, acknowledgewhat they are saying however if you disagree with something, please convey in an assertive and tactful manner.If you make your point forcefully, you will come across as aggressive and if you don’t make a point at all, you can be perceived as weak and with no opinion.

Whenever you’re talking to someone, highlight specific points where you agree and where you don’t.By highlighting these important points, you canshare your opinion better, get your partner to understand your perspective, and turn conflict into a productive win-win solution.

Conclusion

Conflict is part of our daily routine. But as a manager, it’s your job to intervene and find a solution. There are various conflict resolution steps that you can take to make sure this issue gets resolved. Managing and resolving conflict at the workplace is integral to meet organizational goals. Therefore, if you have problems or disagreements between your teammates, look for ideal ways to manage the situation. “The Law of win/win says: Let's not do it your way or my way; let's do it the best way” - Greg Anderson.