WE DO not get to choose whom we work with. So, mix in a batch of differing work and communication styles, add a smattering of attitude and ego, sift in a few tablespoons of stress and deadlines and what can pop up? Conflict.

I have yet to run across an office handbook that guides office workers in dealing with conflict. That is probably a good thing. Given the variety of ingredients that combine to create conflict, let us take a look at five ways that conflict can be managed and handled in constructive ways:

Reframe it

Most people I know assign a negative connotation to conflict. Does it need to be that way? Despite its initial discomfort, conflict can push us into growth, new ways of doing things, and new levels of understanding one another.

What would happen if you reframe the sense of conflict into an opportunity for one of the positive outcomes above?

Seek agreement

Actively seek areas where you agree with another party with whom you are experiencing conflict. You may be surprised how much you have in common.

When you see that the current disagreement is a small portion of your work experience with the other person, you realise the disagreement and conflict need not create relational distance and dysfunction.

Insert civility

We know our daily lives are influenced by a variety of wide-ranging experiences that make up our own personal journey.

Could it be the person you are dealing with just had some bad news? Is it possible he had a fight with his wife before coming to work?

Giving people the benefit of the doubt and trying to understand their experience can inject civility into your approach and discussions.

Learn about one another

Much of the conflict we experience is less about each party intentionally trying to annoy the other and more about different work styles.

I am amazed at how quickly understanding, empathy, enhanced communication and listening can happen when teams learn about one another.

As teams use assessments and tools like the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, the Predictive Index or Strengthsfinders (among many others), they add to their understanding of personality “drivers” and increase their capability to “get along” and value differences in others.

Step away from your “position”

Conflicts often emerge from entrenched positions, which frequently mask underlying interests related to self-preservation or fear.

A favourite question I ask my clients is, “Would you rather be right or happy?” Think about that. It tends to focus people on the long-term aspects of how they want to live their lives, which battles are worth fighting and the choices they make versus the other person’s behaviour.

For those who would like to move toward mastery of conflict, I recommend the book Crucial Confrontations by Kerry Patterson, Joseph Grenny, Ron McMillan and Al Switzler.


Article by Evan Roth, a certified executive coach, Energy Leadership Index master practitioner and C-level executive. He enjoys helping people thrive in the corporate world. For more information, visit www.CoachEvanRoth.com. Article source: http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=Evan_Roth