5 Tips for Managing Conflicts

One of the most important aspects of negotiation training is managing conflict. It’s probably the most useful skill a leader can possess when it comes to working with people. Conflict can arise in various every day scenarios, between many different types of people – the conflict could occur within a team, between a team leader and team member, or between a team and an outside party.

You’re most likely to run into conflict within a team during the early stages of that team’s development, where team members are still establishing themselves, or also during period of change where there is uncertainty within a group due to dealing with new circumstances or procedures, which can at first seem taxing or intimidating. Conflict can also arise within high intensity environments, for example when there is pressure to meet deadlines or where team members have to deal with a crisis situation, or work to overcome a major setback.

Nip it in the Bud

When conflict occurs it needs to be dealt with immediately, head on, otherwise it can become destructive to your team. If it’s left unchecked, it can risk undermining your team’s cohesion, creating division and uncertainty within the group. When this happens, it can lead to team members’ efforts steering more towards “self-preservation” and self-oriented goals, rather than that of the overall team’s goals. In the worst case scenario it can cause damage that cannot be undone, separating individual members from your team, resulting in some of them choosing to leave, or at worst, disbanding your entire team.

Be Prepared

Conflict can arise at any given time, and can be unpredictable in nature, it’s best to stay on your toes. Since conflict can occur in areas least expected, often erupting without warning, a good leader must stay alert and watch out for the warning signs of conflict. When it does happen – and it WILL happen – here are five conflict management tips:

1. Defuse

Conflicts can often get heated very quickly, and in that situation, you must immediately use your training to defuse any frustration and anger before it gets out of control and causes any irreparable damage.

2. Focus

Try to stay calm and focused on the problem/cause in front of you, and what the other party’s problem is. This could be (and may often become) multi-faceted, so try to prioritize in order of importance and work out what needs to be dealt with first.

3. Pick

Next, pick the problem apart into easily manageable chunks – deconstruct the conflict so that it cannot cause any more damage. This will better help you to understand what actions need to be taken to resolve the conflict and move on. This can be done alone, or together with the other party.

4. Compromise

Always be prepared to compromise. To do this effectively, think very carefully about what you want, what the other party wants, and what you’d be prepared to settle with.  Be flexible. As long as you’re prepared to show a little give in your negotiation, the other party will hopefully do the same, and you may be able to reach a happy compromise for you both.

5. Defer

Sometimes you have to accept that not all conflicts can be resolved at one exact moment. If you find yourself coming up against a brick wall, you may be doing more damage than good. Move on, come back to it another time, when all parties involved have had pause to think over the situation and better plan their next move.

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