Welcome to this presentation on managing conflict. Today I’ll take you briefly through a definition of conflict, and provide you with a 3 step model on how to better manage conflict in your life.
Conflict is everywhere around us. In our personal lives and our professional lives, conflict exists everywhere. From getting to work on time, to ordering a coffee, to having a meeting with a co-worker or a friend- there are hundreds of times a day that conflict is possible.
Conflict exists whenever 2 parties in disagreement. More specifically- there doesn’t even have to be a physical or verbal disagreement, it can be a process that begins when one party perceives that another party has negatively affected or is about to negatively affect, something that the first party cares about.
Most people don’t like conflict. It is usually seen as something that is negative, something that is best to avoid. It is usually associated with being overly emotional, getting ‘fired up’ and losing control of your emotions or as being awkward and uncomfortable. As such, most people don’t want to deal with conflict. They would prefer to pretend it doesn’t exist, or to avoid any instance or situation that might lead to conflict.
But stop. Could it be that conflict is actually useful? That conflict can be a good thing? Everyday when people are faced with a conflict, they have a decision to make.
Will this conflict be a negative experience? If you go into the situation thinking that all conflicts are negative, then this becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy- they most likely will be negative. If however, you are able to shift your perspective on conflict- accept that conflict is normal, it’s okay to be in conflict and that it could actually be constructive or even a positive thing.
This brings us to the first step in our 3 step managing conflict model.
The first step of the model is to recognize when you are in a conflict. If you notice that you are feeling threatened, that your emotions are heightened, or that the person you are dealing with is acting defensively or being hostile- know that you are in conflict. And recognize that this is okay. Recognize that conflict is normal- it happens all the time and is nothing to worry about. The way that you react to the conflict is important- recognize that this is up to you. You have several different options for how you respond to the conflict.
The way you respond to conflict is often an unconscious process. You don’t think about how you respond to someone budding in front of you- you just react. If we make our response a conscious process- then we can choose a conflict management style that is appropriate for the situation. There are lots of different conflict management styles theories out there- but most have different names for the same basic concepts.
All conflict management theories are based on the concept that in any conflict situation, you place a certain amount of value on the importance of the relationship and the importance of the outcome. That is to say that you can put a high value on the importance of the relationship and do whatever it takes to get through the conflict while maintaining the relationship- or you can place a high value on the outcome of the conflict and do whatever it takes to get what you want out of the conflict. Let’s take a look at the 5 different styles that emerge out of this
The accomodator is essentially ‘losing’ the conflict- because they think that the relationship is more important than the outcome. There are a few times when this could be appropriate- when the other party really values the outcome, and the relationship is new and you want it to be good. An example would be a first encounter in a new job with a colleague who wants something done a certain way, and you acquiesce in order to start a good relationship. BUT-and this is important, be very careful about using the accommodate style. People may think that you are a ‘pushover’ and begin to bully you on all issues. If you are going to use the accommodate style for a first time encounter, and someone thanks you for letting them have their outcome- make sure you don’t say no problem. Say- You’re welcome- I’m sure you would do the same for me if our situations were reversed. You want to be clear that you are accommodating them and that this will not be the norm. The more often you accommodate, the more often people will seek to take advantage of you.
Lots of people use this style and it is not usually productive- it just postpones or prevents and often damages the relationship. It can be used in a time sensitive conflict- if for example, someone needs you to make a decision by a certain deadline and you do not want to- intentionally missing the deadline will avoid the conflict. But if the person thinks that you have done this intentionally, you may be doing irreversible damage to the relationship.
This means seeking to win your position at the expense of the other party losing theirs. This is appropriate when only one party can achieve their desired outcome. Think of buying a car for a salesman- you might not ever see the person again- so you set a outcome in your mind and only deal if they cave to your demands. Others think of parenting and having to use the control style with their children- you have to go to bed at 9. Be careful though- with kids, friends, co-workers or direct reports- this won’t work for long and will make the other party really dislike having conflict with you. Great you might think- I’ll win all the time. Not so fast- you may just find yourself isolated and things happening without your knowledge- like your child sneaking out at night through their window!
In a compromise situation, we both win and we both lose. Each side concedes on some of their issues in order to win others. Both parties must be flexible and willing to settle for a satisfactory resolution of their major issue.This is what most people are familiar with when they think of negotiations; and most people are happy with compromises. This is however, a better option than a compromise, because in a compromise both people are in fact losing something. Let’s take a look at our last option:
Cooperating with the other party to try to resolve a common problem to a mutually satisfying outcome.When you join with the other party to compete against the situation, instead of each other. This means setting aside any hostile or threatened emotions and focusing on the problem at hand from an objective viewpoint. Each side must feel that the outcomes gained through collaboration are better than they could achieve on their own.
So- of the five styles we just covered, avoid, accommodate, compromise, control and collaborate it’s easy to see how the collaborative style is best in almost all situations that matter to you in your personal and professional life.
it’s easy to see how the collaborative style is best in almost all situations that matter to you in your personal and professional life, and
this brings us to the 2nd step in our managing conflict model- which is choosing your conflict management style. So- after you have recognized you’re in a conflict and that this is okay, choose your conflict management style. Remember that collaborative is best most of the time, and that’s what you should aim to be. Sounds good, but how do you get there, right?
For the last part of this presentation, I’ll go over a few tips and techniques that will allow you to move to a more collaborative style of conflict management. This is by no means an exhaustive list, but rather a few basic things that help.
Active listening is a communication technique. Active listening requires the listener to understand, interpret, and evaluate what they hear. Suspending one’s own frame of reference and suspending judgment are important to fully attend to the speaker. It includes some of the techniques we are about to go over, but also subtle things like body language, eye contact and maintaining focus on the individual you are listening to. Active listening is very important, because it allows you to gain perspective on the other person’s viewpoint. Many conflicts are born out of misunderstanding, so it helps a lot if you understand what the other person is really saying.
Here is a list of techniques and tips that can be used to increase collaboration. Rather then go over them in more detail in this presentation, I’ve just posted their definitions with some basic examples on the next few slides. As with any tips and techniques- you have to practice them to get better at them and make them useful. In our training classes, we include sample exercises to become familiar with each of these techniques.
This brings us to our the end of our 3 step model for managing conflict. The last step is to use techniques to manage the conflict in a collaborative fashion. This means paying attention to the what the other person is saying, considering their perspective in an objective fashion while maintaining a future focus and moving towards a problem solving state. It sounds pretty simple, doesn’t it? While, all the simple things in life are simple in theory and hard in practice. The first step towards improvement is making the process more conscious for you, which I hope that this slidecast has helped with.
Thank you for taking the time to view this slidecast. I hope you enjoyed it. For more information on this topic, please visit my blog. I’ve disabled downloading of this presentation for now, but if you would like a copy, please leave me a comment on slideshare or on my blog with your email and I will send it to you. Also make sure to check out some of my other slideshare presentations, especially the one on listening that is very relevant to this topic.Have a great day!!
Managing Conflict<br /> Recognize you are in conflict<br />This is okay<br />Know you have several options for how you manage the conflict<br />Choose your conflict management style<br />Collaborative majority of time<br />
Managing Conflict<br /> Recognize you are in conflict<br />This is okay<br />Know you have several options for how you manage the conflict<br />Choose your conflict management style<br />Collaborative majority of time<br />Use tips and techniques to work in a collaborative fashion <br />Be an active listener<br />Consider other’s perspective and withhold judgment<br />Maintain a future focus; plan actions and solutions to win-win strategy<br />