Conflict Resolution is one of the most essential Soft Skills that can be developed in the workplace. Former President Ronald Reagan once said, “Peace is not the absence of conflict, it is the ability to handle conflict by peaceful means.” [i] Conflict, opinions, and change are unavoidable. We may find conflict arise within departments, coworker relationships, and perhaps even with customers.
Conflict in the workplace is inevitable, as we can’t expect everyone to always agree. However, conflict isn’t always negative. When handled in a respectful and productive way, conflict can provide truly positive outcomes. When the Soft Skills needed for successful Conflict Resolution are developed and reinforced, it allows for:
- Increased self-awareness around future conflict.
- A collaborative approach to resolving conflict.
- The promotion of a productive workplace that encourages respectful relationships.
Conflict Resolution in the Workplace
Conflict Resolution is a method used to facilitate the resolution of a disagreement. Essentially, team members work together to try and resolve the disagreement by communicating conflicting opinions or strategies and engaging in collective compromise.
Conflict Resolution requires a range of Soft Skills because there are multiple dimensions that must be addressed. There is:
- Cognitive Resolution is the way disputants understand and view the conflict, with beliefs, perspectives, understandings, and attitudes.
- Emotional Resolution is in the way disputants feel about a conflict, the emotional energy.
- Behavioral Resolution is reflective of how the disputant’s act, reflected in their behavior.
So in order to have successful Conflict Resolution, Soft Skills, such as empathy, communication, team-working, and problem-solving must be used. Because there are various aspects of Conflict Resolution there is ultimately a wide range of methods for resolving conflict. For example, there is negotiation, mediation, arbitration, and creative peacebuilding.[ii]
How to Develop Conflict Resolution in the Workplace
Conflict Resolution is a Soft Skill that can be taught and should be developed in the workplace. There are many ways to develop Conflict Resolution, and the approach taken can be through teachable moments. Typically resolution begins with acknowledging, clarifying and understanding the issue so that there is full transparency of the conflict.
Once the issue is defined, the underlying need should then be determined. A guide put out by UC Berkeley states, “The goal of conflict resolution is not to decide right or wrong; the goal is to reach a solution that everyone can live with. Looking first for needs, rather than solutions, is a powerful tool for generating win/win options. To discover needs, you must try to find out why people want the solutions they initially proposed. Once you understand the advantages their solutions have for them, you have discovered their needs.” [iii] Once the needs are determined, the solutions to satisfy those needs are constructed. The solutions must then be shared with the opposing parties and, hopefully, a real agreement can be achieved.
To manage conflict effectively, one must be both a skilled communicator and a skilled listener. When these Soft Skills are taught, developed, and put into action in the workplace positive results will transpire.
The Advantages of Workplace Conflict Resolution
The advantages of Conflict Resolution are vast; cultivating personal growth, increasing employee morale, improving communication, and producing better project outcomes. Conversely, the consequences of unresolved conflicts in the workplace can be detrimental to an organization if not effectively managed. By utilizing and developing Conflict Resolution principles, and learning approaches to conflict resolution, managers will be able to establish a workplace environment in which creativity and innovation are encouraged and project goals are accomplished.[iv] For more information on developing Soft Skills in the Workplace, visit our soft skills training page.
Is conflict or Conflict Resolution in the workplace something you’ve experienced? If so, how was it addressed? If your organization has never received conflict resolution training, then be sure to visit our page to see how our conflict resolution training can benefit your organization.
[i] “Ronald Reagan Quotes.” BrainyQuote, Xplore, www.brainyquote.com/authors/ronald_reagan
[ii] “Conflict Resolution.” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 10 Apr. 2018, en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Conflict_resolution
[iii] “Resolving Conflict Situations.” Resolving Conflict Situations | Human Resources, hr.berkeley.edu/hr-network/central-guide-managing-hr/managing-hr/interaction/conflict/resolving
[iv] “Conflict Resolution in Project Management, https://research.ncsu.edu/nctc/study-guide/project-administration/project-management/conflict-resolution-in-project-management/