What comes to mind when you hear the phrase workplace conflict? Many of us think…tension, arguing, strained relationships, and loss of productivity. Conflict is an inevitable part of workplace relationships and YES it can absolutely be productive. Conflict is productive when it is focused on concepts and ideas to achieve the best possible solution. Work teams who engage in productive conflict feel safe to voice their opinions and also seek opinions of others.
Unfortunately we’ve seen a rise in mean-spirited personal attacks on social media which provides an opportunity to react without thinking and be impulsive with comments. We see belittling, labeling or ignoring other people who don’t share the same views. People have reported that they feel free to be rude because others acted that way.
To maintain a productive and respectful workplace, it is critical that we don’t let this type of mean-spirited behavior spill over at work. Rude or unprofessional behavior, if allowed to continue, can lead to bullying and crossing the line from inappropriate to illegal.
Providing your employees with the skills to develop their ability to engage in productive conflict will improve workplace results and relationships. Here are a few tips for understanding:
- Understand Reactions During Conflict: The first step is to take ownership of your response to conflict situations. They key is to break your thought pattern: Conflict-Automatic Thought-Response. For every destructive conflict response there is an alternative productive conflict response.
- Understand How to Adapt: When you find yourself heading to a destructive reaction, ask yourself these questions: is this thought actually valid/true, am I overacting or exaggerating the problem, is there another way I could look at the situation?
- Understand the Causes of Conflict: Look below the surface and probe to find the root cause of the conflict. It may be related to something in the work environment such as communication styles, conflicting goals and priorities, or overlapping or gaps in responsibility.
- Understand the Facts: Quite often conflict arises due to a lack of access to all the facts. Asking the questions “what do we know about the situation” and “what don’t we know but need to know about the situation” helps to get all the facts on the table for productive conflict discussions.
We look forward to partnering with you to accomplish your training objectives. Deborah.Avrin@ManagementSkillsInc.com or 972 881 5282.