We’re considering offering conflict resolution training to a team in our company facing a lot of pressure to perform. Can you share some sample content?
Sure, and thanks for the invitation.
As an instructional designer, I avoid the term “conflict resolution” because not all disagreements can be resolved. Most can be managed. Conflict management allows harmony to return after relationship disruption. When you get good at it, you influence conversation and change it from me vs. you to us vs. the problem. To come through disagreement better for having it, someone has to broach the subject positively and professionally. Trainees can be proud if, despite their anger or hurt, they’re skilled enough to open the discussion.
It’s a metamorphosis. Destructive emotional states evolve to constructive states through problem-solving. Both parties listen with opinions momentarily set aside. When I’m angry or hurt but ready to try to understand another’s point of view, I picture myself in the role of researcher, working to unearth information that may be foreign to me or hard to hear. I often fail, but personally, I’m celebrating baby steps toward higher EQ (emotional intelligence) every day.
Participants say that once they’ve successfully worked through an argument, the relationship grows stronger, more genuine, and future disagreements are more easily managed. I love to hear it. It’s never beneficial to have one’s name associated with drama. We can let that be a motivator to face conflict sooner. Many prefer to put it off, while others jump in with too much emotion. A steady, open-minded approach as soon as possible is much more useful.
During training, we dispel some myths, including:
“Something’s really wrong if we can’t get along.”
Conflict can be wonderfully functional. Growth occurs. The roughest waters we navigate, the things we don’t want in life that happen anyway teach truths and build communication skills.
“Avoid the conflict and it will go away.” or “They’re adults, they’ll figure it out.”
Rarely is this true. Most conflicts escalate if ignored. Instead, approach with “please tell me how you see this.” Listen with personal agendas set aside. Speak last – after you hear what you perhaps haven’t wanted to hear. Show respect for some part of the other’s opinion.
“It’s a personality conflict.”
It’s more likely a result of competing goals or lack of clear leadership, organizational change (even the good kind), or limited resources. Time, money, and space are common conflict seeds.
DO acknowledge possible positive intentions related to the other’s position. Prepare constructive statements before you bring up the issue.
DO give this conversation your undivided and uninterrupted attention.
DO clarify things. “Are you saying…?” “So your biggest concern is…?” You may find your assumptions are incorrect. Admit it (as I wish I did more often) and earn a rare level of respect.