Whether you are in charge of a group of workers or you simply want to be better able to handle conflicts when they come up, knowing the basic 5 rules for conflict management is something that will come in handy. The next time you face difficult people or a difficult situation, you’ll know exactly what to do.
- Keep Emotions in Check
More than likely, the person who is being difficult has emotions that are in overdrive. The best thing you can do is to remain calm and leave emotions out of it. Respond with rational, well thought out responses. Although it can be difficult, it is also important to keep tears in check and watch body language.
- Watch Semantics
While it might be true that the other party did something wrong, pointing it out and accusing him rarely has the result of resolving conflict. Instead, use “I” statements or ask open-ended questions that are not accusatory.
For example, you might say:
You took one of my colas out of the break room refrigerator. Please don’t repeat that mistake as I label my colas clearly with my name.
You’re a thief! You stole my cola.
- Be Careful Not to Attack the Person
In the heat of the moment, it is easy to attack the person instead of the behavior. For example, if an employee is always late and it impacts your work, you might be tempted to call them inconsiderate. However, that will only create additional conflict.
Instead, focus on the behavior that is problematic and use the non-inflammatory language as outlined in rule # 2 above.
- Put Yourself in the Other Person’s Shoes
Try to understand things from the other person’s perspective. This doesn’t mean that you accept the bad behavior, but it can help you understand the other person better and come up with a solution that is workable for you both.
If nothing else, she won’t feel you are judging her and will be more likely to realize you are simply looking for a solution that allows you to both do your jobs well.
- Don’t Be a Doormat
While you want to follow the rules above, there is no reason to be a doormat. If someone is taking advantage of you or doing something wrong, address the issue and be firm about what needs to change.
If this doesn’t result in a workable solution, don’t be afraid to call in a mediator, such as a higher up or even a company HR person.
Following these 5 rules for conflict management will result in a more peaceful and productive work environment.