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Conflict Management Strategies – Personal and Professional

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Think conflict management is only for large organizations? Read this article for actionable strategies to help you both professionally and personally.

Conflict can wreak havoc in both your personal and professional life, and more often than not, these issues carry over to all areas of your existence. Implementing conflict management strategies can help you overcome these problems and assist you in dealing with numerous situations in a positive and productive manner.

Conflict management isn’t just for large companies. Even if you only have a handful of employees, sooner or later you will need to deal with a situation that calls for conflict management.  Studying these strategies now will help you avoid these pitfalls later.

Conflict in the Workplace

Workplace conflict is detrimental to the success of a business.  There are many types of conflict, from employee relations to challenges with customers.  Even simple day-to-day issues that arise can be problematic. The first strategy is to prevent things from spiraling out of control.

If you are confronted with a customer who is irate, defuse the situation immediately.  One great approach is to derail the customer from their line of thought.  For example, if they are loudly expressing themselves in public, invite them into your office for a cup of coffee.  This gives both of you time to think and regroup and will help diffuse the situation.

Employee conflict is best managed pro-actively in an incremental gains approach.  If you see employees who simply cannot get along, try to get them to talk to one another while you moderate the discussions or if need be consider transferring one to another department.  If these steps are not feasible, discuss the issue with both employees, separately.  If one will not bend, it may be time to re-consider their employment with you.  Whenever possible, try for a ‘win-win' outcome!

Managing Personal Conflict

Personal conflict is a little more difficult to manage.  We all must deal with personal conflict and it is all too common to bring your work home, or to bring your home situation to work.  One tactic to employ, if you leave for work angry, is to change something in your routine.  Stop and get some coffee, or simply make time to take a few deep breaths.  Another great tip is to play your favorite music as it can have ways of making you feel better.

The same strategy can be implemented if you find yourself leaving work all stressed out.  Do yourself, your family and those you work with a favor and set up a stress-free zone that allows you to decompress if you’re feeling stressed or angry.  Perhaps on the way home, stop at a park and walk around in the grass or sit at a park bench and relax.  Consider an athletic activity to help reduce and cope with stress better.

Dealing with Subtle Conflict

Subtle conflict is much more nebulous and harder to define, but it erodes stability the same as regular, in-your-face conflict.  This type of conflict can be expressed through negativity, either your own or an employee’s, or in negative situations that bring you down.  If you see colleagues in what appears to be a ‘pity party,' trying to bring everyone around them down – don't participate or try to help them to see their concerns as opportunities not problems.

While it’s easy to say that you need to maintain a positive outlook, it is much more difficult to accomplish in reality.  First, you must be wholly committed to being positive.  Once you embrace this, it gets a lot easier to let negativity roll of your back.  Let your employees know that your workplace is a negativity-free zone.

Remember, negativity breeds more negativity, and the same is true for positivity.  Over time, but starting as soon as you notice it, try to break the cycle of negativity in your workplace and you’ll see your employees performing better and maintaining a better outlook.  This, in turn, will help increase productivity and workforce retention rates.

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Dr. Rich Schuttler

Dr. Rich Schuttler

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About Dr. Rich

Dr. Rich is a mentor for executives, faculty, and students around the world in a variety of professional leadership and management settings. 

He is a customer driven, quality focused, innovative and engaging international public speaker, educator, business consultant, mentor and author with over 20 years of expertise.

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