As much as we dread it, conflict is bound to happen throughout our lives, and it is inevitable when working in a team in school and at work.
Rather than avoiding it altogether, however, we should try to resolve conflict, for the reality remains that not all conflicts are bad and they are vital in any healthy relationship, whether personally or professionally.
Conflicts can occur due to poor communication or unmet expectations, but they essentially come down to differences that trigger strong responses between parties, be it in opinions, values, beliefs, ideas, desires or needs.
Some conflicts are trivial, but when they are not addressed proactively, they can manifest to a point of discouraging collaboration, lowering productivity and stifling creativity.
Thus, we need to have the skills in resolving conflict in order for us and the opposing parties to reach an amicable solution to a disagreement. These skills include problem-solving, decision-making and negotiating.
A skillset necessary for our studies, career and everyday life, conflict resolution skills can also help us form and strengthen relationships, enrich our understanding of diverse perspectives, and reduce stress.
Here are what you should and shouldn’t do when resolving conflict:
- Acknowledge and define the conflict. This is to familiarise yourself with the situation at hand, and establish an honest and transparent communication with the parties affected.
- Listen actively and show empathy to the other parties. Instead of interrupting them, keep an open mind, listen to understand their points-of-view, and ask questions if you need clarification.
- Treat others with respect by focusing on the conflict. It would be rude to attack their personalities, make assumptions on their behaviours or blame them for their ‘errors’.
- Make sure that the solutions address the needs of all parties. These needs should be identified at the start of the discussion, as they are crucial in producing a win-win solution.
- Get too emotional. Where the need arises, call for a time out and come back when you have calmed down, because conflict can’t be resolved successfully if the people affected can’t manage their emotions and stress.
- Insist on being right, because conflict resolution isn’t about determining who’s ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ in the problem; it’s about finding solutions that benefit all parties.
- Resolve the conflict yourself, or expect others to do it. Conflict resolution involves every side, and it is everyone’s responsibility to deal with the problem and learn from it.
- Be afraid of conflict. Instead, confront it as soon as it occurs, or try to find ways to prevent it from happening so that it won’t affect your work and relationships in the long run.
This is a weekly column by SarawakYES! – an initiative driven by Faradale Media-M Sdn Bhd and supported by Angkatan Zaman Mansang (AZAM) Sarawak – to provide advice and stories on the topics of education and careers to support Sarawakians seeking to achieve their dreams. Join us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.
First published in the Borneo Post in print on 18th January 2020.
Photo by Jopwell from Pexels.