No organisation is conflict free. Therefore, it is important to be prepared and know how to handle conflicts in the workplace with co-workers.
The conflict is a confrontation between several people or groups of people, caused by the behaviour of one of them that harms the achievement of objectives of another. If these conflicts are handled properly, it can help the company achieve its objectives.
Among the causes of conflicts within the company are changes in the organisational structure, lack of coordination between the people or groups that interact, opposing views, different objectives between the departments of the organisation, problems or lack of communication, an ineffective leadership style and distrust among people.
The exacerbation of a conflict can have negative consequences such as the deterioration of cooperation and teamwork, the increase in mutual distrust, the decrease in work motivation, reduced work performance and loss of working time, decision making wrong, etc.
However, conflicts also have their positive side to the extent that they can encourage people to be more creative and generate new ideas to improve the results. Similarly, hidden problems arise in conflicts, so that they can be faced and resolved. They also help internal competition between people and groups to improve their efforts. Finally, conflict allows emotions and stress to be released; With it, people can get to know each other better, and even once overcome, they can cooperate more with each other and increase their union.
The key tool that helps resolve conflicts is negotiation, that is, the dialogue process that leads to a mutually accepted agreement between the parties to the conflict.
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Methods to negotiate
It is important to know the different ways or methods of negotiation, in order to know how we should deal with it in the best possible way.
- Distributive negotiation: it seeks to divide a fixed amount of resources. Each party faces a win and lose situation.
- Interrogation negotiation: it is sought that the agreements lead to a situation in which everyone wins.
- Third party intervention: both parties to the conflict may turn to third parties for better solution options. The mediators are in this group, which facilitate negotiated solutions through reasoning and persuasion, with suggestions of alternatives by both parties; the arbitrator, who has the authority to issue an agreement in the negotiation after listening to both parties; the conciliator, who exerts an informal communication link between both parties in negotiation; and the consultant, who has experience in conflict management and tries to facilitate a creative solution through communication and analysis.
It is important that the conflict be clearly identified, as well as its components, elements, its tendency to escalate and its dynamics in general. All of this will make it possible to have a better approach to the way in which the conflict should be analysed and resolved, as well as a clear picture of how the negotiation should be addressed, either as part of the conflict or as a third party.
The 6 tips to handle conflicts
A well-managed difference in companies helps incentivise innovation and build strong teams; It is best to address problems openly and seek solutions integrating all parties.
Conflict management within the company is an extreme situation that can bring benefits to both the leaders and the co-workers of the organisation, since its resolution implies changes and improvement of the processes. The conflict may arise from the differences between two or more people, or as a result of the disagreement towards policies or processes of the leaders.
When problems are approached appropriately, the result helps to make staff more innovative, stimulates the creation of effective teams and increases productivity.
The best way to resolve a conflict is to address it in an open way, as this improves the chances of reaching agreements that allow reaching objectives.
- Cultivate a link with your “adversary”: The key to disarticulating a conflict lies in establishing a link – or restoring it if it has deteriorated – with the other party. For this it is not necessary that the individual please you; all that is needed is a common goal. Treat the person like a friend, and base the relationship on mutual respect and cooperation. Leaders must learn to differentiate between the person and the problem, and avoid negative reactions to attacks or intense emotions.
- Dialogue and negotiation: It is important not to separate the conversation from the subject in question, stay focused on a positive outcome and be aware of the common goal. Do not show yourself hostile or aggressive. The next stage is negotiation, in which, in addition to dialogue, it “bargains.” Dialogue and negotiation produce genuine and productive transactions for both parties.
- “Put the fish on the table”: This expression means raising a difficult issue without hostility. The phrase comes from Sicily, where fishermen expose their loot on a large table, to clean it altogether. If you leave it “under the table”, it starts to rot and smell bad. Instead, if you raise the problem, you can start clearing up the mess. You must be direct but respectful and always speak in a timely manner.
- Understand the cause of the conflict: Among the roots of a discrepancy are differences in terms of objectives, interests or values. Opposite perceptions of a problem and even different communication styles could also influence. Power, rivalry, insecurity, resistance to change and confusion of roles are other reasons for disagreement. It is crucial to determine if the conflict is based on interests or needs. The former are more transitory and superficial, such as the possession of land, money or employment; The needs are more basic and difficult to negotiate: identity, security and respect, to name a few. Many conflicts seem to obey interests, when in reality they are the product of needs.
- The law of reciprocity applies: This is the basis of cooperation and collaboration. In general, what you give is what you receive. Recently, several researchers have discovered “mirror neurons” in the brain, which indicates that the limbic system (emotional brain) where empathy is found recreates in us the experience of the intentions and emotions of the other. The exchange and internal adaptation allow two individuals to be able to identify with the inner states of the other. Consequently, both may make the necessary concessions in due time.
Bear in mind that here at Applied Innovation we have a team of professionals with a unique combination of leadership and experience to prepare your people to adapt to change.