Most people want to avoid conflict, waiting out discomfort or putting off difficult conversations rather than dealing with the issues. Sometimes this is because people don’t know how to have these conversations or fear a negative impact on their work environment and relationships. In reality, however, avoiding conflict may build resentment, and the conflict is never overcome.
As a manager, you know that talking about the “elephant” in the room is vital to maintain balance and positive growth within your team. But how should you approach it?
Our perspective often colors difficult conversations. When we’re hung up on our perspective, we may not be open to seeing other points of view or hearing alternative solutions. Try to set your point of view aside and approach the situation from their perspective. You may not fully understand, but it will help you appreciate what’s happening with them and where they are coming from.
Listen to Understand
We often think we’re good listeners, but listening to understand takes concerted effort. Listen intently to the other person, ask questions, and care about their answers. Active listening is the best way to help you find common ground and ultimately reach an equitable solution.
Take Care of Yourself, Too
Conflict is emotionally draining. Ensure you care for yourself while helping your team cope with workplace issues. If you feel your compassion and empathy dwindling, take a moment. Drink some water, get some fresh air, pause the conversation, and get a good night’s sleep. Conflict doesn’t need to be resolved right away. Take the time necessary to treat the situation and all involved with respect and intention.
Brainstorm Solutions Together
Even if you believe you have the right solution in mind, brainstorm solutions with all involved and come to a resolution together. Explore solutions and make every effort to reach an understanding. Whether you create a plan for resolution or walk away agreeing to disagree, you’ll all know that you did your best to resolve the conflict.
Handling conflict is always challenging. Whether the conflict is between employees or one you have with an employee yourself, learning how to have difficult conversations with an eye toward resolution is vital. With the guidelines above, you can find ways to have these conversations and make your workplace a more productive and peaceful environment for everyone.