How to handle conflict like a pro

There are many reasons you might have conflict in your business & you need to understand them Click To Tweet

The former US president Ronal Reagan is quoted as saying, “peace is not the absence of conflict, and it is the ability to handle conflict by peaceful means.” This means that conflict is inevitable: we have it at home, at work, and in our social circles. The moment you have more than one person in a group, the likelihood of confrontation arises. Why? Because of differing views, because of differences in interests etc.

If you are wondering if the conflict at your office is normal, wonder not, it is. What is not normal is the degrees to which it can go to as well as the irreparable damage it can cause if it is not dealt with accordingly. If you are a business owner or even an employee, the following tips can help you handle conflict better and foster a positive environment.

1. Understand why you have conflict

There are many different reasons you might have conflict in your business. These range from personality clashes; communication gaps; disputes over approaches as well as competition for limited resources.

Understanding the triggers from your environment is the most important thing you can do because only when you know what is causing something are you in a position to ‘fix it’.

2. Manage expectations

Do you over promise and under deliver? Managing expectations internally is important because people know what they can expect from you and the work environment. Often times in trying to get the ‘best’ talent through the door, business owners make promises that they cannot meet by the time they say they will.

This leads to resentment, which manifests in various problems that affect the business owner, colleagues and even customers, rather under promise and over deliver.

3. Draw up a conflict resolution guide

In the same way that you would have a code of conduct that you get every employee to sign when they come on board, so too should you have a conflict resolution guide.

The contents (and comprehensiveness) are dictated entirely by the anticipation of conflict in your company as well as the gravity of those conflicts. Start simple, put together questions that first and foremost facilitate a reflective purpose.

Drawing up a conflict resolution guide could help handle conflicts in the workplace effectively Click To Tweet

4. Set rules!

Over and above the standard policies and codes of conduct, have rules of engagement that you compile with your team. When they have had a say on for example how they will relate to each other in the office, they are more likely to keep their end compared to when it is a rule from the boss.

You can even take it a step further and develop shared values. Make sure you include how ‘we promise to deal with conflict in the office’.

5. Never take sides

Yes she may have started with you when you were still a struggling business owner, and she understands the company, but just like everyone else you’ve brought on board, she has a role to play.

Everyone who works with you makes a contribution and they all need to be treated fairly and with respect. That includes not being side-lined over another employee. Treat everyone the same.

6. Listen more and talk less

As the visionary and not executor, yours is to spend more time listening than talking. Listen to what is not said especially because it is herein that the truth is often times revealed. Listen not to answer but to understand.

When your approach is this, people will feel comfortable coming to you, be it for good or bad. And as a permanent effective strategy to conflict management, this accessibility is what you must aim towards.

When you take even one of these tips and put it into action, you will be amazed at how much more manageable conflict in your workplace becomes. Remember that peace is not the absence of conflict; it is rather the ability to handle conflict by peaceful means. Sometimes all it takes is being proactive and putting systems in place that support dealing with conflict when it arises.