Alasdair Ross, CEO of We Do HR
In every interaction with another person the risk of conflict is always there, however, the decision as to whether you allow this to escalate is entirely up to you. It is always easy to blame the other person and expect them to adjust their behaviours and conduct towards you but being the bigger person and taking control of the situation without being overbearing is far more rewarding. You don’t always have to fight or win!
I’m sure you’ll recognise conflict situations whether you’re in the midst of it or as an observer. These can be where somebody is just being stubborn or a full-blown argument where both parties are angry and hostile. There are many techniques that would allow you to remain in control and still be able to have your say and the best way to do this is to understand that conflict is always based in emotion.
The easiest way to prevent such situations however is to avoid getting into them in the first place. Hot topics to be wary of are discussions around politics, religion and, dare I say it, football. These are subjects that people are passionate about and feel they want to make their point and be heard. Where the discussion is friendly “banter” then that is okay but the moment the conversation turns serious is the time to make light of it and change the subject.
This doesn’t mean you just ignore conflict if it does arise. If it does, try to tackle it in a positive way by diffusing the emotion and calming the situation down. It is however best to try to reduce opportunities where conflict may occur by thinking ahead of potential situations.
Deal with it
When you have to face conflict, then don’t be scared … deal with it!
- Be truthful and open
- Show your empathy
- Consider whether your body language matches what you’re saying
- Be prepared to agree to disagree
Set expectations within the workplace through policies which provide a framework that encourages discussion. Such discussions should form part of everyone’s working relationships but they shouldn’t just be an excuse to argue for the sake of it.