Every successful business is often commended for the product or service they’re offering in the market. However, there is another driving force behind success and growth. Highly engaged people and strong leadership can help businesses outperform others. It may also be said that employees and teams are the building blocks of an organization. This is why every organization does its best to maintain harmony among individuals and foster a healthy workplace culture and environment.
While workplace harmony and healthy professional relationships are ideal scenarios, conflicts are inevitable. In any setting, conflicts are frustrating and unsettling. When it comes to work, it becomes even more difficult as you may need to collaborate or prioritize someone’s vision that you don’t agree with. You may think conflicts are avoidable, but that’s not always the situation. This is why it’s important to know how to manage and overcome conflicts. Read on to see what’s conflict management and the 5 conflict management styles that can help you navigate conflicts with ease.
Meaning And Importance Of Conflict Management
Managing conflict in the workplace can help organizations overcome challenges and recognize opportunities. Conflict is often a result of a difference of opinion, personality clashes or different interests. Organizational conflict can be any disagreement between parties. It may be employees, teams or even departments. Whether you’re frustrated about something or you have different interests, it can lead to a conflict in the workplace. This is one of the reasons why organizations encourage employees to align personal goals with organizational goals.
There are several factors that play in, which necessitates conflict management and resolution:
- It can hamper productivity, affecting your performance
- Achieving goals may become difficult in the event of a conflict with your team
- It may impair your ability to think objectively about people or situations
- It can lead to poor decision-making as a consequence of emotional outbursts
- It has the power to push people into a corner, leaving them demotivated and unlikely to work proactively
When you use appropriate strategies and tools to address problems and prevent major issues from escalating, you’re on the right path to conflict management. When done right, it can bear fruitful outcomes for you, your team and the organization as well.
Understanding Conflict Management Types
When it comes to conflict, there isn’t one size that fits all. In other words, there is no one solution that works for every situation. Each situation is unique and you need to approach them differently. There needs to be a different conflict management style for individual situations and people. The best way to go about it is by asking yourself the following questions before you pick your conflict management style:
1. How much do I value this individual or situation?
It helps you decide which would be the best choice among all the conflict management types. Based on the amount of value you’re willing to attribute to an individual or situation, you can gauge how much you would want to get involved. For example, if the person you’re disagreeing with is a teammate of yours and you both will have to continue working on other projects, you may want to prioritize your long-term relationship before continuing to debate with them. It’s best to come to a consensus in situations where the people involved are important. If the issue is of little significance, it’s best to let it go.
2. Do I understand the consequences fully?
You need to make peace with the consequences that’ll follow whether you decide to further the conflict or not. When it comes to work situations, it’s often dicey as you need to continue working with them. It may get uncomfortable and frustrating to be in an emotionally charged atmosphere. However, if there are consequences that challenge your personal or moral standing, it’s best to stand up for what you believe in. It should be done in a way that’s professional and mature. The bottom line is when you give yourself a clear overview of what’s to come, you can decide whether you want to engage or not.
3. Do I have the necessary resources to contribute?
Many conflicts tend to drag on as parties involved are required to present their viewpoints and opinions. If you decide to enter a conflict at work, you could be preparing for a long-term ordeal. You may need to engage in research, deliver presentations, have difficult conversations and manage the second-hand stress from everyone else. This is why you need to ensure that you have adequate time and energy to participate in the conflict. You need to be fully prepared and pour everything you have into it.
Once you have answered these questions, you can decide whether the conflict is worth it and pick your conflict management style accordingly.
Exploring Conflict Management Style Examples
There are five different types of conflict management styles, each instrumental in navigating unique situations. Studies suggest that people usually prefer one or two styles to others but there are several benefits of each. Let’s look at each conflict management style in detail.
1. Avoiding Conflict Style
In the avoiding conflict style, you avoid conflict and confrontation until the situation resolves itself. You push the problem by sitting on it and taking no decision. By ignoring the issue, the situation becomes a problem for the future. It can be a good way of thinking through situations as it buys you more time to seek clarity and collect your thoughts while reflecting on the situation. Here are some situations where you can take the avoidant approach:
- When there is a lot of tension and pressure
- When it makes you or everyone involved uncomfortable
- When you don’t have clarity about the issue
2. Competing Conflict Style
A competing conflict style is when you take a firm stance with the plan to negotiate. It’s best for opinionated individuals who want to stand up to what they believe in. In this approach, the focus is more on logical negotiation than on empathy. This style may help resolve issues quickly but it may make you come off as authoritarian. If you’re a manager, your team may hesitate to bring up ideas, queries and feedback. You need to decide which situation requires this type of conflict management style by gauging the following factors:
- Does the situation need you to stand up for your values, beliefs and morals?
- If you don’t use this style, will other management styles bring the same result in the same amount of time?
- You have used other approaches but has there been no change?
3. Accommodating Conflict Style
As the name suggests, accommodating conflict style helps you focus on others and put aside your own priorities. When you know that small disagreements can be managed quickly with low effort, you accommodate. While this is an easy way to avoid discomfort, you shouldn’t use this approach when making major decisions as it has lasting consequences. Instead, consider these situations to take the accommodating approach:
- When there is no other solution
- When it’s important to maintain harmony at work
- When you’re in the wrong
4. Compromising Conflict Style
In the compromising conflict style, you aim to satisfy people on both sides. You act as the mediator between each party and choose to compromise when managing conflict. With this approach, you can resolve issues pretty quickly. The best quality of this style is that everyone involved has a better understanding of the other person’s perspectives. To execute this efficiently, you need to be seen as a hands-on and solutions-oriented mediator. Consider the following situation where you can use the compromising approach:
- When you want to motivate people toward collaboration
- When reaching a standstill is most important
- When you need a temporary solution
5. Collaborating Conflict Style
The collaborative conflict style is a combination of assertiveness and cooperation. Using this style can help you achieve a win-win situation. You work on others to find a solution that’s beneficial for everyone involved and reduces negative feelings. Everyone gets involved in creating a solution, which is beneficial in the long run. Here are some situations where it’s best to use the collaborative approach:
- When the solution has a significant impact
- When the issue impacts everyone involved
- When the relationship among everyone is important
Managing conflict at work is essential for better results, building workplace relationships and improving job satisfaction.
No matter what your conflict resolution style is, learning how to manage conflict can help you engage with your colleagues better. It’s the people that make an organization successful. So, if you’re on good terms with your team members—and management—you’ll be motivated to perform better. To navigate conflicts smoothly, you need to be able to negotiate properly.
Harappa’s Negotiating Wisely course will teach you how to fully utilize your negotiation skills and become a win-win negotiator. You’ll not only present your case persuasively but also win team support and maintain relationships. The Negotiation Canvas framework will help you execute plans for successful negotiations. So, what are you waiting for? Start your free trial today!
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