Conflict Resolution or Resign?

One of the units that I am currently studying at university is dedicated to Persuasive communication. Within one of the lectures we were shown a video that demonstrated examples of conflict within the workplace and how they should be resolved correctly.

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Although the video was made a decade or two ago, the messages remain the same today. The narrator of the video, using freeze-frames and fly on the wall techniques, allowed you to feel part of the conflict. One of the main messages of the, somewhat dated video, was that conflict can be damaging if not dealt with properly. Two scenarios were the main subjects of the video: Two separate employees experiencing conflict with their managers. The effects were clear. They felt de-motivated, ignored, dissatisfied and stressed as a consequence.

So how should they deal with the situation? Cause havoc? Go into their bosses’ office – all guns blazing, and give them a piece of their mind? That’s one extreme. Or the other would be to ignore the conflict, hope it goes away and allow the effects to possibly worsen? The best way is to establish a mutual understanding…

Communication is key! The video identified a suitable step-by-step guide to resolving conflict appropriately:

  • Analyse conflict
    • Look past personalities clashes.
    • Identify YOUR needs and interests as well as THEIRS
    • Find a common ground
  • Prepare to meet
    • Arrange a meeting
    • What to say?
    • How will they react?
  • Manage meeting
    • Start positive and stay positive
    • Be assertive (use ‘I’ to start conversation)
    • Focus on the issue
    • Ask open, closed, probing and challenging questions to seek engagement
    • Avoid aggressive body language
    • Gain some agreement
    • Explore options together
  • Review outcome
    • Reflect to clarify (check what you both have said)
    • Summarise

Putting this into practice, using role-plays, was when we (students) were able to put ourselves into these employees’ positions. Its all well and good watching conflict be performed by bad actors with 90s hair and baggy patterned shirts, (elements that were distracting from the seriousness of the subject) but creating a scenario ourselves actually helped understand how frustrating and damaging conflict can be.

So lets put this into reality!

According to Alan Hall, a contributor to Forbes.com, “more than 2 million Americans are voluntarily leaving their jobs every month”. But why?

A recent study by Accenture reports:

  1.  They don’t like their boss (31%),
  2.  A lack of empowerment (31%),
  3.  Internal politics (35%) and
  4.  Lack of recognition (43%).

These are all examples of conflict in the workplace but as million people have left their jobs, it shows that conflict has defeated them. This supports the message of the video: Conflict can be damaging if not dealt with properly!

Have you experienced conflict in the workplace? I’d like to hear your story! How did you tackle the situation? Was it resolved?

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