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Mismanaged Conflict Can Cost You
A recent example of this downward spiral can be found in the debacle with United Airlines and the plunge of their stock prices due to a botched handling of basic conflict management. (See My Recent LiveStream) The key is to manage the conflict properly when it occurs or even before, if feasible.
Conflict and Loss of Productivity
Unresolved or mismanaged conflict can quickly escalate and impede an organization’s progress, as people lose focus on the organizational goals. It’s been estimated that managers spend at least 25 percent of their time resolving workplace conflicts, resulting in decreased office performance. If not managed properly, conflict can affect the profitability and sustainability of the business. Therefore, ignoring it can be costly.
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Why Does Conflict Occur?
Communication is both the cause and the remedy for much of the conflict at work. Why? Because, differing communication styles can lead to misunderstandings almost every time. Understanding how to effectively communicate, and how to effectively resolve disputes, can lead to greater fulfillment and productivity. Now, here is a very important caveat, you cannot just become “conflict whisperer” In other words, communication and conflict resolution skills must be learned and developed on an ongoing basis. As these skills are learned, it becomes easier to address conflicts when they happen and identify areas of compromise for the best solution.
How to Become a Conflict Whisperer
The ultimate goal in any conflict scenario is to achieve a positive resolution which minimizes future conflict and assuages any bitterness or distrust. To achieve this aim, the following steps are important:
- Identifying the cause or causes of the conflict – Without knowing the root of the conflict, there can never be a resolution.
- Listening carefully – Listening to all parties is essential. For understanding to take place, everyone must hear the perspectives of each side involved.
- Dealing with conflict immediately – There should not be a reluctance to address conflict. It must not have time to fester. The conflict must not be given time to escalate into something unmanageable.
- Viewing conflict as an opportunity – Conflict can be a chance for growth and learning for an organization and for individuals.
- Ensuring resolution – Every possible step should be taken to make sure the conflict is resolved. When all is said and done, unity and cohesion should exist.
While conflict cannot be eliminated completely, it can be resolved when it arises through a clear and pragmatic process. By actively resolving conflict when it occurs, organizations can create a positive work environment for everyone involved. Whereby, the organization and team is prepared for the next conflict, which is sure to arise.