There is a truth in the workplace that many of us spend a lot of time and energy trying to overlook. That truth is Conflict and while you can try to avoid conflict for a while, you cannot escape it.
This is especially true if you are in a leadership position in the workplace. Conflict — and, more specifically, conflict resolution — is your job. The more you are able to recognize it, understand it, and ultimately resolve it, the more successful you will be. Being a good communicator is a key way to be successful in managing conflict.
LinkedIn Blogger, Bernard Marr, recently posted, “The first step you can take is to prevent conflicts that are preventable — not all of them are, but by actually seeking out a potential conflict and taking steps to mitigate it, you’ll make your job ultimately much easier. For example, if someone on your team sends out a vague email that could easily be misunderstood, asking for clarification upfront could head off future conflict.”
Marr points out that “as a leader, you also need to be proactive in defining what is and isn’t acceptable and helpful in a given situation.” A great example is when team members in leadership positions send vague emails or do not include all the relevant information. This can quickly lead to confusion and poor performance. Many time the root cause of poor performance, bad decision-making and low morale can stem directly from lack of proactive communication.
Back when I was a teacher, we would often talk about “teachable moments,” and every conflict is a strong teachable moment. When there are two sides, two opposing viewpoints, there is a remarkable opportunity for learning, innovation, and even team building. Getting the two sides to communicate and acknowledge room to grow on both sides is paramount.
According to Marr, “Great leaders don’t shy away from conflict or avoid it, but rather see it as a tool for bringing a team closer together. When there is a desire to resolve a conflict, it can be resolved — every time — and usually to the benefit of both parties.”
True leaders know how to use conflict to bring about positive and necessary change. They recognize that conflict is essential for an organization to evolve. With ever conflict we either have a crisis or an opportunity… I try hard to be proactive, to communicate and to always turn a conflict into an opportunity.
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